Crossing the River: Exploring the Geography of Irish Traditional Music


  • Daithí Kearney



Ireland, Irish, Irishness, Irish traditional


Geographical interest in music has developed dramatically in the last decade. Musicology, and ethnomusicology in particular, is already intensely geographical. The two subjects can inform each other to create a better understanding of the role of music in society. In this article, the relationship between politics in the performance of music, particularly in consideration of national identity, is examined in an Irish context. Just as Irishness has become a global entity, Irish traditional music has become a global commodity. Attempts at constructing the narrative of Irish traditional music as an essentially Irish music is bound up in the institutionalization of Irish traditional music through local government, universities and organisations such as Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Irish traditional music has rarely been independent of politics in the last two decades. It is a connection that has intensely geographical implications for the performance of Irish traditional music.

Author Biography

Daithí Kearney

Daithí Kearney (BA, HDipEd) is a graduate of University College Cork. He has toured regularly with a number of groups including Siamsa Tíre, The National Folk Theatre of Ireland, and was Artistic Director of The Cork International Folk Dance Festival 2005. He has also recorded with a number of bands including Nuada. His research concentrates on the construction of geographies and regional identities in Irish traditional music. It focuses both on the differences in musical practices and also on the creation of spaces of performance and memory in the Irish music tradition. Daithí has lectured and published nationally and internationally on Irish traditional music. He is also a Government of Ireland Scholar supported by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences.




How to Cite

Kearney, D. (2008). Crossing the River: Exploring the Geography of Irish Traditional Music. Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland, 3, 127–139.