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Library lunchtime lecture: Vivid Voices: Tomás Ó Máille and Sound Recording in the Modern Irish State


Tuesday, March 14, 2023, 13:00 - 14:00


The Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2


Free no booking required

Dr Deirdre Ní Chonghaile, New York University will speak of Prof. Ó Máille’s contribution to Ireland's audio heritage.

Tomás Ó Máille (1880-1938) was the inaugural Professor of Irish at University College Galway. Born in 1880 in the Maam Valley in Connemara into a prosperous, Irish-speaking family, Tomás trained in Dublin, Manchester, Liverpool, Baden, Berlin, and Freiburg where he was awarded his doctorate in 1909. He was associated with the West Connemara flying column, and his brother Pádraic (1876–1946) was a member of the first Dáil. Belonging to the coterie of radical intellectuals and political and cultural leaders of the War of Independence, Ó Máille’s achievements are rightly considered alongside those of his fellow revolutionaries, his friend Patrick Pearse and fellow academics Thomas McDonagh and Éamon de Valera.

A folklore and song collector, newspaper editor, linguist, and teacher, Ó Máille was in a pioneer in many ways. His greatest foresight was his commitment to the newest technology of his day – audio recording. From 1928, he created over 500 recordings of speech, storytelling, and song from Irish speakers throughout Connacht and Clare, which can now be heard at Ó Máille also assisted the recording work of other collectors and scholars including Wilhelm Doegen whose Irish recordings are hosted by the Royal Irish Academy at

This lecture marks Prof. Ó Máille’s contribution - unparalleled in scale and ambition - to the audio heritage of Ireland and coincides with the bilingual exhibition Culture & Citizenship: Tomás Ó Máille running at the Royal Irish Academy from 7 February to 21 April 2023.

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