Scripts Worth the Wait; Monday Books: Tunes from the Munster Pipers, Irish Traditional Music from the James Goodman Manuscripts. (Irish Traditional Music Archive, Dublin)

By Stewart, Trevor | The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), September 21, 1998 | Go to article overview

Scripts Worth the Wait; Monday Books: Tunes from the Munster Pipers, Irish Traditional Music from the James Goodman Manuscripts. (Irish Traditional Music Archive, Dublin)


Stewart, Trevor, The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)


THE work of a Protestant clergyman who spent many years of his life collecting traditional music in south-west Ireland has finally been published - more than 100 years after his death.

James Goodman compiled more than 2,000 melodies, many from people he met during his ministry in counties Kerry and Cork from the 1840s until 1866.

After his death in 1896, Goodman's family deposited the handwritten manuscripts in Trinity College, Dublin, where, in his later years, he had been professor of Irish. It was not until the 1980s that music scholar Breandan Breathnach, an admirer of Goodman's work, began preparing the collection for publication.

Although many of Goodman's melodies came from the oral tradition, some were borrowed from other collections, in common with 19th-century collectors, and Breathnach's task was to separate the two strands. He died in 1985, but Hugh Shields carried on the work and finally fulfilled Breathnach's hopes with this book, which contains about 500 tunes, including jigs, reels, hornpipes and slow airs.

Goodman, of English descent and born near Dingle, Co Kerry in 1826, was a fluent Irish speaker from infancy and became a Church of Ireland minister in his 20s. …

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