Launch of The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland


L:R – President of DIT, Professor Brian Norton, Prof Barra Boydell, President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, Professor Harry White and Dr Kerry Houston

10 October 2013: The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, has launched a groundbreaking book, The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland, in which DIT played a key role.

The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland (or EMIR as it is known for short) is the most comprehensive publication on music ever to have been undertaken in Ireland and includes more than 2,000 articles reflecting Ireland’s musical culture in all its depth and variety, both in the past and today.


President Higgins gives his speech in the Freemasons’ Hall, Molesworth Street

The General Editors are Professor Barra Boydell (Professor in the Department of Music at NUI Maynooth until his retirement in 2010) and Prof Harry White (Professor of Music at UCD).

The Executive Editor is Dr Mark Fitzgerald of DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and Subject Editors are from across a number of Irish educational institutes. Subject Editors from DIT are Dr Maria McHale and Dr Kerry Houston, both of DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama.


L:R – Mairead Leary, David Mooney, both of DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama , and Una Hunt (DKIT)

The project received support from Atlantic Philanthropies, the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, NUI Maynooth and DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama.

EMIR was launched in the Freemasons’ Hall in Molesworth Street last Friday (4 October) by President Michael D Higgins. He was introduced by Professor Gerard Gillen, Professor Emeritus of Music at NUI Maynooth and a renowned organist. As an aside, President Higgins informed the audience that Prof Gillen had actually played the organ at his wedding to his wife Sabina.


Dr. Kerry Houston, Head of Academic Studies at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and a Subject Editor of The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland

“The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland is both a celebration of the artistic empathy for which we, as a nation, are renowned and an affirmation of the great wealth of musical talent that has always existed in this country,” said President Higgins.

“It is a great coming together of knowledge and musical scholarship that will allow us to reach a true understanding of the musical journey of a nation – of its continual evaluation and progression, its constant re-working and re-shaping and its reflection of the society with which it engages.”

President Higgins said that our pride in our rich cultural heritage has tended to focus on our great literary tradition and that where debate does focus on our musical journey, it tends to begin with the traditional music which is identified so strongly with our culture and tradition and to travel straight to the success of some Irish musical landmarks of recent decades.


President Higgins with musicians from DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama

He said that these, “are rightly regarded as having etched a new found confidence in ourselves as Europeans producing musical and cultural experiences. These volumes show how much has often been missed in the contemporary discourse.”

He called the book, “a valuable map that allows us to retrace our country’s musical passage, and to fully explore the people, the places, the performances, the genres, the societies, the ensembles and the many other factors which have left their footprint on the landscape of Ireland’s musical voyage.”

President Higgins also paid tribute to the collaboration between several Irish third level institutions in creating the book and said this was a real measure of educational endeavours, at a time when there was much debate about the value of university rankings.

Speaking on behalf of himself and Prof Barra Boydell, Prof Harry White paid tribute to the many people who had been involved in putting together the two volume book over several years. The initial idea for the book came 25 years ago but much of the work took place over the past 10 years.

Amongst the recognitions, Prof Harry White thanked DIT, who, as well as providing contributions through staff members, laterally had a role in hosting the project.

The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland is published by UCD Press and is available from the publisher and all good book shops.


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