Last days of unique exhibition in Ballinamore

There are only a few days left to view a truly unique exhibition showcasing decades of meticulous recording of some of the countries little known musicians and singers.

There are only a few days left to view a truly unique exhibition showcasing decades of meticulous recording of some of the countries little known musicians and singers.

The exhibition ‘Captured by Song’ is a snapshot of the life’s work of Tom Munnelly (1944-2007) through both his photographic collection and his field diary records.

Tom was employed as a full-time song and music collector from September 1971 until his death in August 2007. Over the course of his 36-year career, Tom’s recordings of reel-to-reel, digital and cassette audio tapes of folk song, music and lore, make him one of the most important and fruitful collections Ireland has seen.

Now the County Library in Ballinamore is playing host to a display recording some of the travels that Tom undertook, showcasing images and excerpts from his writing and giving visitors a unique insight into a wealth of tradition that would otherwise have been lost to the people of Ireland.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is a listing of the work collected during Tom’s first year as a full-time collector when he recorded some 264 singers and musicians in 18 counties including Counties Leitrim, Roscommon and Cavan.

The names of those he recorded might not be household ones but they are recognisable despite the fact they were recorded over 40 years ago.

Names like Francie Grehan, recorded playing the banjo and mandolin at Grehan’s Pub, Boyle; Mrs Brigid Reilly who was recorded singing in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim or little Winne Stokes, aged 11, who was also recorded by Tom during the same visit.

Michael Moran who performed for Tom in Mohill. 62 year old Francis Cox who sang during Tom’s stop in Annaduff, and so many others who would have been forgotten but for the work of this truly visionary man.

‘Captured by Song’ however doesn’t just focus on Tom’s early years of recording but continues on cataloguing images and music right through to the new millennium.

The exhibition will be on show at Ballinamore Library until the end of October. From here it will be travelling to Wexford so this is the last chance that visitors in the North West will have to see ‘Captured by Song’.