Sounds of St. Patrick: Preserving Ireland’s Rich Oral History with Audio Archives

Not all records of national and cultural value are papers.  Some records are, well, records…

What if you wanted to get in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit by listening to a super-rare, one-of-a-kind 1910 performance of Patty Touhey singing about “The Humours of Whiskey?” There’s only one or two small problems –  it was recorded on a wax cylinder phonograph, and you don’t happen to have a working Victrola handy!


Thanks to digital technology, and The Irish Traditional Music Archive – (Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann),  you can listen to it on your iPhone.  From anywhere.  Right now.

Click here to listen to the recording!

Not all history is recorded on paper.  And in Ireland, where so much of the culture is embodied in its iconic sounds – language, storytelling, poetry, and music – capturing and preserving audio records is a vital part of preserving their heritage.  Digitizing audio archives may be even more relevant than capturing paper.  In fact, if the recordings were lost, a vital part of their history would be gone forever.  Thus, the creation of The Irish Traditional Music Archive:  “the first body to be exclusively concerned with the making of a comprehensive multimedia collection of materials – sound recordings, books and serials, sheet music and ballad sheets, photographs, videos and DVDs, etc. – for the appreciation and study of Irish traditional music.”

There are literally thousands of archives dedicated to preserving the history of Ireland through digital audio.  So, go be Irish for a day and immerse yourself in the sounds of Ireland, thanks to digital audio archival technology.

Here are a few more audio archives specifically dedicated to preserving Ireland’s oral history:

  • National Museum of Northern Ireland’s Sound Archive:  “The only purpose-built facility of it type in Northern Ireland. Recordings relating to transport, industry, crafts, folklore, language, traditional music and song are only a few of the topics embraced. Oral history interviews are drawn from a wide cross-section of the local community and often give detailed accounts of cultural and historical value.”
  • The Internet Archive Community Audio Archive – Fairy and Folk Tales of Ireland: Over 50 recorded readings (available as mp3 files) of “two books of Irish folklore collected and edited by William Butler Yeats: Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, first published in 1888, and Irish Fairy Tales, published in 1892. In this delightful gathering of legend and song,the familiar characters of Irish myth come to life.”
  • Irish Life & Lore, An Archive of Irish Voices:  “Through decades of work in audio recordings and books, thousands of rare voices have been captured. In rich accents from all regions of Ireland, we document the country’s local, national and social history as well as her unique culture, customs, beliefs and traditions.”  (Note:  This is a fee-based site; the downloads are not free for public access, but the collection is extensive.)


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2 Responses to Sounds of St. Patrick: Preserving Ireland’s Rich Oral History with Audio Archives

  1. Thanks for including Irish Life and Lore – An Archive of Irish Voices Since 1990, over 3,000 hours of recordings have been compiled in the counties of Ireland by ourselves, Maurice and Jane O’Keeffe from our base in Tralee, Co. Kerry.. Six books relating to various oral history collections have also been written and published.
    Thank you BizDocs, and a very happy St. Patrick’s Day from Tralee, Co. Kerry.. La le Phadraig Shona Duibh go leir! (Irish greeting)

    • eBizDocs says:

      Thanks for sharing with us as well! We love seeing the different ways that companies use digital asset management tools and archival technologies to benefit their own business’ bottom line and while providing truly valuable services to their customers!

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