This page gives information about some of the major printed music collections. See the Accessing Music section to find out how to consult thes collections.
The Joly collection (JM)
The Joly Music collection forms the core of the Library’s music collection and contains approx 6,000 items. The collection spans music written between the latter years of the eighteenth century and the first decades of the nineteenth century. It includes vocal music, mostly popular songs, including songs by M.W. Balfe and Thomas Moore, produced for domestic and entertainment purposes, instrumental music pertinent to the army (quadrilles etc.), instrumental music for piano and harp, collections and arrangements of Irish airs and variations, and miscellaneous material. The collection includes material relating to little known Irish composers. A multitude of fascinating detail, such as personal notes, elaborate cover pages or notes on performances can enable researchers to paint a picture of the musical tastes and the cultural environment of previous generations, particularly in Dublin where many of the items were published. It is important to note, that few of these items can be found in other Irish and British libraries.
Additional Music Collection (AM)
The Additional Music collection contains approx 13,000 items. This collection is complementary to the Joly Music collection, but much of it dates from later, and includes a small amount of material dating from the early twentieth century. It consists of printed sheet music, vocal music (mostly popular songs), piano music, ballads, piano arrangements of opera numbers, instrumental music for piano and harp, Irish country dances, collections and arrangements of Irish airs and variations and miscellaneous material. The Additional Music collection also contains material relating to little known Irish composers.
The Bryden Thomson Collection
The Bryden Thomson collection comprises approx [700 items]. The majority of these are music scores and contain performance annotations, personal notes and details of performances and recordings made by the late conductor Bryden Thomson (1928-1991). The rest of the collection contains a number of texts on music, music publishers’ catalogues and a number of biographies of contemporary composers, many of whose works he conducted. The collection as a whole is hugely beneficial to music students, young conductors and composers, in addition to scholars and researchers in many areas such as performance practice and history, concert life and social history in Ireland. The collection was presented to the Library in 2003 by Bryden Thomson’s widow Mary Ellison Thomson.
Irish Countrywomen’s Association collection (MU/ICA)
This collection of music scores [53 items], is part of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association’s archives held by the National Library.
Peggy Dell Collection (MU/PD)
The Peggy Dell music collection [513 items], consists of printed sheet music, vocal music (mostly popular songs), arrangements (some with instrumental parts included), ballads, instrumental music for piano and some miscellaneous items. The collection was gathered by Margaret Tisdall (1906-1979), better known by her stage name Peggy Dell, during her long career as a pianist, singer, and music hall entertainer. It is a useful collection in historical terms, in particular from a social history perspective, and gives an insight into the development of popular music culture in Ireland during the 20th century.