The National Library of Ireland’s collection of music includes both printed and manuscript material.
Printed music comprises mainly printed scores, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as broadsheet ballads and popular music printed for general circulation. The NLI’s manuscript holdings include the papers of many figures and organisations in Irish music such as the critic Charles Acton and the Music Association of Ireland.
Printed and manuscript music can be located in the online catalogue and consulted in the Manuscripts Reading Room. You will need a reader’s ticket to access these collections.
Joly music collection: this collection forms the core of the Library’s music collection and contains over 6,000 items dating from the late 18th century to the early 19th century. It includes vocal music, popular songs like those by MW Balfe and Thomas Moore, produced for domestic and entertainment purposes. The collection also contains instrumental music relevant to the army (quadrilles, etc.), instrumental music for piano and harp, collections and arrangements of Irish airs and variations.
Additional music collection: this collection contains over 13,000 items and dates from the mid-19th century to early 20th century. It includes printed sheet music, vocal music, 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.
Bryden Thomson collection: this collection consists of 700 items and includes music scores with personal notes and details of recordings and performances by the late conductor Bryden Thomson (1928-1991).
Peggy Dell collection: this 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. The 500 items include printed sheet music, vocal music, arrangements (some with instrumental parts included), ballads, instrumental music for piano and miscellaneous items.