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Irish Music


Archival Collections at BC

Library Research Guide

Irish Music Archives

The Irish Music Archives of John J. Burns Library documents the history of Irish music in America. Alongside published items such as books and commercial recordings, the collections include unpublished (archival) materials such as photographs, letters, and private recordings. A particular focus is traditional Irish music from the East Coast of the United States.

The Irish and Irish American collections of Burns Library are internationally recognized, and the library welcomes researchers from around the world by appointment. To schedule an appointment, please use our contact form

Search the library catalog to find both archival and published materials. We invite you to contact library staff with any questions.  

Finding archival materials

Burns Library invites you to try a new search tool called Search Burns ArchivesIt enables searching within a single archival collection or across many archival collections at once.

When you see an item you'd like to request, click the “Add to My Request List” button in the upper right corner.

From "My Request List" you can print your list for later, schedule a visit, or request a copy. 

For an alternative view of the full finding aid, use the "Print" button to download an easy-to-read PDF.

Search Burns Archives enables you to locate archival materials that are unpublished. If you are looking for books, commercial recordings or other published materials, these can be found and requested via the Libraries’ catalog


List of archival finding aids, A-Z

Archival content online

Online content from the Irish Music Archives includes:

Books, CDs, videos, journals, etc.

Most published items, such as books, sheet music, and recordings, are listed individually in the library catalog. For search tips, or to find something specific, please contact the library.

Featured collections of published material:


The Irish Music Archives were established at Burns Library with recordings from the 1990 Boston College Irish Fiddle Festival. The festival's organizer, visiting ethnomusicology professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, deposited these materials at Burns Library to encourage creation of an archives of Irish traditional music in the U.S. 

Today, the Irish Music Archives seeks to document achievements and values that have helped sustain communities, recognizing individuals and groups that have provided inspiration outside of mainstream commercial culture. Although documenting such contributions can be elusive, the effort to capture the music of ordinary life across decades will enable listeners and scholars to better understand today’s repertoire and style, and to better understand social developments in the Irish diaspora. 

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