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Daithí Develops Research Collaborations in Canada

06 November 2023

Dr Daithí Kearney, a lecturer in music and co-director of the Creative Arts Research Centre at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), has returned from a trip to Canada where he presented at one of the largest and most prestigious ethnomusicology conferences in the world.

The Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) Annual Conference took place in Ottawa this year and fittingly, Dr Kearney’s presentation was part of a session that examined Irish music in Canada. Along with colleagues Dr Rémy Tremblay from the Université TÉLUQ (Quebec) and Dr Jérémy Tétrault-Farber from Dawson College (Montreal), he presented on an examination of Irish pubs in Ottawa. Jérémy followed this with a presentation on the Irish music community in Montreal that drew on his recent PhD dissertation. Finally, Professor Peter Toner, Associate Vice-President (Research) at St Thomas University reflected on Irish music in St John, New Brunswick. The session was chaired by Dr Scott Spencer Assistant Professor of Musicology (World Music) at the Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California, who has conducted wide-ranging research on Irish traditional music in North America and who encouraged a rich conversation between and after the papers.

The conference also provided an opportunity for Daithí to liaise with colleagues in the Celtic Music Special Interest Group of the SEM. This group is an opportunity to develop collaborations, share recently published work and promote research in the area. The group identified a number of potential research projects and opportunities for publication, with some members working towards books in the field.

While in Ottawa, Daithí also engaged in performing. He and Dr Aaron Bittel, Director of the World Music Archives and Music Librarian at Wesleyan University, joined a session with the local community of Irish traditional musicians at Daniel O’Connell’s pub on Thursday night. There was a great mix of Irish, Quebecois, Newfoundland and other traditional musics. On Friday night, Daithí and Aaron were joined by Felix Morgenstern, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Ethnomusicology, University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz and Jérémy Tetrault-Farber for a session in Brigid’s Well, part of the Ottawa Irish Arts Centre.

Daithí also facilitated workshops for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, whose regional AGM was held while he was in Ottawa. Daithí’s workshop was attended by a range of local musicians with a keen interest in Irish traditional music and the banjo in particular. Located in the basement of a former Catholic church, there was a great sense of community with participants engaging in song and dance workshops and many participants demonstrating their fluency and interest in the Irish language. Daithí received a Ceannródaithe Bardic Award from Comhaltas at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann earlier this year for his contribution to Irish traditional music and he was delighted to meet with members from various branches in Canada while in Ottawa.

Daithí continues to develop links with colleagues in Canada. He was awarded a D’Arcy McGee Beacon Fellowship from the Irish Canada Universities Federation in 2021, for which he collaborated with Professor Heather Sparling of Cape Breton University. He and his students at DkIT previously engaged in a collaboration with staff and students from Cape Breton University and Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania on an undergraduate ethnomusicology programme. The trip to Ottawa has allowed him to share his insights and engage with others in planning future research projects and dissemination.

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