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The ITMA is curating an exhibition of Scrapbook Images from the Ballad Boom, 1950’s–1970’s. The ballad boom, was a period of about twelve years which began at the end of the 1950’s. There was a movement in Ireland for the singing of (mostly) Irish songs in English by ballad groups: small vocal groups accompanying themselves with guitar, banjo and mandolin, and sometimes including a whistle player or other melody instrumentalist. This was the Irish expression of a wider folk movement where mainly English speaking people rediscovered their own folk music and began to make their own music for themselves in what would become known as the folk revival, it was anti-Tin Pan alley and anti-commercial in its initial stages.

The ITMA website tells us that the boom was inspired by the robust and dramatic LP recordings and live performances of a singing group formed 1958–59 in New York by the actors Paddy, Tom and Liam Clancy from Waterford and Tommy Makem from Armagh (who were themselves influenced by the concurrent American folk revival and its musical norms), hundreds of ballad groups rediscovered an almost forgotten heritage of traditional song and the pleasure of making live music. The improving Irish economy of the 1960’s enabled some of the more talented groups to become professional or semi-professional, performing for audiences who could afford to attend concerts and clubs, or travel to competitions and festivals. By about 1970 the trend had run its course. While some singers continued with successful careers, the ballad audiences and the amateur groups turned to other forms of music, including Irish traditional instrumental music. The images in the exhibition are from Irish newspaper and magazine clippings preserved in scrapbooks and compiled by Breandán Breathnach from the late 1950’s and donated to the ITMA by the Breathnach family in 1987.

ITMA is open on Saturdays over the summer months. The following are the opening dates. Saturday 16th July, 2011, Saturday 20th August, 2011 and Saturday 17th September, 2011.

Permalink - Posted: June 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm