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International Music Resources by Country: Ireland

International Music Resources offers an array of online and physical resources both freely available and/or offered by the George F. DeVine Music Library. The information included in these guides may serve as a starting point for the study and research of

The Cliffs of Moher Panoramic photo

Citation (1)

Map of Ireland

Map of Ireland


Image Citation (5)

Facts in Brief

Ireland Flag


Ireland consists of 26 of the 32 historic counties that comprise the island of Ireland. The remaining six counties, in the north-east, form Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Ireland lies in the north-east Atlantic Ocean, about 80 km (50 miles) west of Great Britain. The climate is mild and equable. The warmest month is July, when the average temperature is 15°C (59°F), and the coldest is January, with an average temperature of 5.1°C (41°F). Irish (Gaeilge) is the official first language, but its use as the predominant vernacular is now restricted to certain areas, collectively known as the Gaeltacht, mainly in the west of Ireland. English is the second official language and is almost universally spoken. The majority of the inhabitants profess Christianity: some 78% of the population are Roman Catholics. The national flag (proportions 1 by 2) consists of three equal vertical stripes, of green, white and orange. The capital is Dublin. The vast majority of the population profess Christianity, some 78.3% being Roman Catholics and 2.7% Protestants.

Citation (3 and 4)

Listen to A Celtic Celebration

A Celtic Celebration Album Art

Citation (2)

Streaming Video: JVC Video Anthology of World Music-Ireland

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: Ireland

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Cover Art

Traditional Irish Music

Traditional Music

Traditional Irish music is of rural more than urban origin, a reflection of an earlier population distribution, but many items and forms of the repertory have come from towns and cities, or through them from abroad. The bulk of the current repertory, including that of Irish-language song, originated in the 18th and 19th centuries. A large body of songs in English were composed on English and Gaelic models, and texts were circulated on ballad sheets as well as orally. Being largely the music of non-professionals, traditional music is normally performed during leisure hours at night, weekends and during holiday periods.

Narrative and lyric songs are both plentifully supplied in the English language. The oldest form of these, the imported British classical ballad, has almost disappeared, but there is a large surviving body of later songs created in Ireland with distinct Hiberno-English roots that incorporate Gaelic features such as internal assonance. The songs of both languages are strophic, metrically uniform and in accented metres, often with an alternating verse and chorus. In performance both languages are sometimes heard on the same occasion, and there are a few macaronic songs that alternate between languages. Stylistic differences arise from regional and personal differences, not from languages or genres. 

Citation (6)

Instrumental Irish Music

Instrumental Music

Almost all types of Irish dance music share a common symmetrical structure. Tunes usually consist of two parts, one lower in pitch (the ‘tune’) followed by a higher (the ‘turn’). The main types of dance music in order of popularity are the reel, jig and hornpipe, all of which can be played for solo dancers, groups of dancers or for listeners. Less common are the polka and slide, which are played for group dancing, and the set dance, played for solo dancing. There is no musical connection between a tune and its title (or titles), if it is titled at all. Song airs are named from the title of the Irish or English song lyrics with which they are associated. The primary musical instruments are international melody instruments, some of which have developed specifically Irish forms: wind instruments, such as the pipes, whistle and flute; string instruments, especially the fiddle, but also the banjo and mandolin; and free-reed instruments, such as the accordion, concertina and harmonica. Percussion instruments were not played much until recently. 

Citation (7)

Irish Jigs, Reels & Hornpipes Album Art

Featured Artist

Cover of 'Carolan' by Donal Joseph O'Sullivan

Carolan; The Life, Times, and Music of an Irish Harper

Author: Donal Joseph O'Sullivan

Call Number: ML419.C35 O8


Memorial to Carolan in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland

Turlough Carolan (1670-1738)

Carolan was an Irish harper and composer. He was one of the numerous harpers who made their living as itinerant musicians; he was probably the last of them to compose, and is the only one about whom much is known.

Most of his music, much of which is in dance rhythm, is cheerful and lively, reflecting his own outgoing temperament. His pieces show influences of Irish folk melody, the traditional harp music of Ireland, and Italian art music. He was unusual among the Irish harpers in looking beyond the native tradition for musical inspiration.


Yeats, G.  (2001). Carolan [Carrallan, Carrollan, Carrollini, O'Carolan], Turlough. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 3 Nov. 2020, from

Image Citation: "St Patrick's Cathedral Dublin, Ireland ; This image highlights the centre of the memorial to the blind harper and composer Carolan" by Scríobhaí licensed for Creative Commons SA-BY 4.0

Featured Group

Group photo of the U2 band members


Indisputably one of the most popular rock acts in the world, this Irish quartet’s achievements since the late 70s have been extraordinarily cohesive and consistent. U2 began their musical career at school in Dublin in 1977. Bono (b. Paul David Hewson, 10 May 1960, Dublin, Eire; vocals), The Edge (b. David Evans, 8 August 1961, Barking, Essex, England; guitar), Adam Clayton (b. 13 March 1960, Chinnor, Oxfordshire, England; bass) and Larry Mullen Jnr. (b. Laurence Mullen, 31 October 1961, Dublin, Eire; drums) initially played Rolling Stones and Beach Boys cover versions in an outfit named Feedback. They then changed their name to the Hype before finally settling on U2 in 1978. After winning a talent contest in Limerick that year, they came under the wing of manager Paul McGuinness and were subsequently signed to CBS Records Ireland.

(2006). U2. In Larkin, C. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Popular Music. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 3 Nov. 2020, from

Image Citation: "U2 2015" by R. L. 68 licensed for Creative Commons SA-BY 4.0

Cover of 'U2: An Irish Phenomenon' by Višnja Cogan

U2 : An Irish Phenomenon

Call Number : ML421.U2. C64 2008

Cover art of the film 'U2: Let Them Be - The Second Chapter'

U2 : Let Them Be - The Second Chapter

From their humble beginnings in a Dublin classroom to becoming the most influential band on the planet, U2 are without doubt the most important rock act of the past twenty years. Still one of the biggest and most flamboyant bands in the world after 30 years of delighting their fans, U2 released one of their very finest albums with 1991's 'Achtung Baby', but by the mid 1990s the band were in danger of slipping into irrelevance. Instead of allowing themselves to fade away, the mighty U2 redoubled their efforts, reapplied for the job of 'best band in the world' and entered the new millennium with the explosive 'All That You Can't Leave Behind'.

Citation: Films Media Group. (2010). U2: Let them be-The second chapter, Part 1. Films On Demand.


(1): Suzanne Severns. [Photographer]. (2019). The Cliffs of Moher 2 [digital image]. Retrieved from Used under Public Domain Mark 1.0.

(2): A Celtic Celebration [Streaming Audio]. (2004). Da Camera. (2004). Retrieved from Music Online: Classical Music Library database. 

(3): Image Citation: Country Flag (Ireland), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 08 October 2020 from

(4): Text Citation: Country Profile (Ireland), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 08 October 2020 from

(5): Country Map (Ireland), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 08 October 2020 from

(6): White, Harry, and Nicholas Carolan. "Ireland." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 12 Oct. 2020.

(7): White, Harry, and Nicholas Carolan. "Ireland." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 12 Oct. 2020.