In 1974, the Department of Education transferred to University College Dublin, the large collection of music and song assembled by the late Breandán Breathnach. This led to the creation of the Irish Folk Music Section of the Department of Irish Folklore.
The Irish Folk Music Section has inherited a number of other collections of music and song assembled by the Irish Folklore Commission. The range and depth of recorded folk music and song material has been extended considerably since the 1970s through the work of the specialist music and song collector, Tom Munnelly, and other members of the Department of Irish Folklore.
In addition to sound recordings, the Irish Folk Music Section houses a large collection of manuscripts and books dealing with almost every aspect of music, song and dance. Among the most interesting of these is a set of English-language songbooks dating from the 18th century, and an important collection of broadsheet ballads.
The collection includes first editions of major works on music and dance by Edward Bunting, George Petrie, and Francis O’Neill; the collected papers of music scholars and collectors such as Fionán Mac Coluim and Dónall Ó Súilleabháin; and a large collection of commercially-released recordings, mostly concerned with Irish traditional music, 78-rpm records, LPs, cassettes and CDs.
NOTE A sample selection of songs recorded by Tom Munnelly will feature shortly on this page, which is currently being upgraded, to coincide with the recent publication of The singing will never be done: Tom Munnelly, Collected Essays and Lectures, 1990–2007, edited by Anne Clune, published by the Old Kilfarboy Society, August 2014.