The essays below provide background on Séamus Connolly’s musical life, and shed light on his process for developing this digital collection.

A Message from Séamus Connolly

Essay by Séamus Connolly 

Connolly describes his fifteen-year journey to develop an extensive music collection for publication, expressing deep gratitude to musicians, friends, and family who helped him along the way.

A 2013 NEA National Heritage Fellow, Séamus Connolly served as Sullivan Artist in Residence in Irish Music at Boston College from 2004 to 2015. For an overview of Connolly’s musical career, see the companion essay by Dr. Earle Hitchner. 


Séamus Connolly: A Living Legend in Irish Traditional Music

Essay by Dr. Earle Hitchner

In this biographical essay, Earle Hitchner chronicles Connolly’s musical influences, achievements, and lifelong dedication to Irish traditional music.

Critic and commentator Earle Hitchner earned a doctorate with distinction from Drew University in 2015. His writings, published in major newspapers, magazines, and liner notes, have established him as a leading commentator on Irish music internationally. 


Merging the Past with the Present: The ​Séamus ​Connolly Collection of Irish Music

Essay by Dr. Sally K. Sommers Smith Wells 

Sally K. Sommers Smith Wells highlights ways in which Connolly’s multidimensional collection invites the learner to experiment, to imagine new settings, and to “picture” the tunes in different ways. 

Sally K. Sommers Smith Wells is Associate Professor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the College of General Studies, Boston University. She is a fiddler in the Irish and Cape Breton traditions, and publishes widely on the evolution of traditional music in North America.


New Settings, Old Sources

Essay by Elizabeth Sweeney

Elizabeth Sweeney offers a bird’s-eye view of the repertoire in The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music, illustrating Connolly’s selection process with audio clips of older source recordings. 

Elizabeth Sweeney is Irish Music Librarian for the John J. Burns Library’s Irish Music Archives.  From 2013 to 2016, she served on the Boston College Libraries’ project team for The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music.


The Legacy

Essay by Mick Moloney was published in the Boston College Magazine (Winter 2017)

Mick Moloney is a folklorist, musician, and professor of music and Irish studies at New York University. He is the author of Far From the Shamrock Shore: The Story of Irish Immigration Through Song (2002) and Across the Western Ocean: Songs of Leaving and Arriving (2016).