First Phase of the RISM Ireland Database Launched

RISM Ireland is delighted to announce the launch of a new Irish-focused free-to-access database of pre-twentieth century musical materials held in repositories throughout the island of Ireland:

The new Irish-focused RISM Ireland database and website was established by Dr Catherine Ferris (RISM Ireland/DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama) with the generous assistance of Dr Laurent Pugin (Swiss RISM Office), Dr Sandra Tuppen and Richard Chesser (RISM (UK) Trust/British Library) and Eoin Kilfeather (DIT Digital Media Centre).

Ireland’s contribution to the RISM project has historically been linked with the work of RISM UK and prior to the development of this new resource, all Irish records were incorporated within RISM UK's free-to-access website. This new Irish-focused resource highlights the contents of Ireland’s collections in a national context. In addition, records from the RISM Ireland catalogue are shared with the RISM Zentralredaktion in Frankfurt, which publishes the collective work of RISM groups in thirty-five countries throughout the world, thereby placing the Irish sources in a worldwide context.

The work of RISM Ireland is project-based, focusing on diverse areas of Irish musical life and individual institutional holdings. These projects highlight the numerous previously unknown, forgotten or lost musical manuscripts and scores lying dormant in repositories throughout the island of Ireland and provide access to source documents invaluable to musicologists and performers. This launch highlights the first major research project to be published in the database: The Mercer’s Hospital Music Collection. This project, undertaken in collaboration with RISM Ireland and RISM UK, resulted from a DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama research scholarship. The scholarship to carry out doctoral research on the collection was awarded to Tríona O’Hanlon and supervised by Dr Kerry Houston.

Mercer's Hospital was opened on Stephen Street, Dublin in 1734 to deliver medical care to the city's poor and destitute. The contents of the Mercer's Hospital Music Collection provide primary evidence for the type of repertoire performed at the Mercer’s Hospital benefit concerts, established in April 1736 to provide important financial support to the hospital. The collection, currently on deposit at the Manuscripts and Archives Research Library, Trinity College, Dublin, is probably the largest surviving Irish collection of eighteenth-century music apart from those of St Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedrals, Dublin. It contains fifty manuscript and seven printed volumes of music containing works by the following composers; George Frideric Handel, Maurice Greene, William Boyce, Henry Purcell, Arcangelo Corelli, Pelham Humfrey, Charles Avison, Francesco Barsanti, John Stanley and Michael Christian Festing. The inclusion of these sources in the RISM Ireland database provides researchers and musicologists worldwide with access to information about this collection of Irish sources. Further information on the Mercer’s Hospital Music Collection is available on the RISM Ireland website: or by contacting Dr Tríona O’Hanlon.

The work of RISM Ireland is ongoing and more data will be added over the coming months and years. Current projects include Dr Karol Mullaney-Dignam’s ‘Music in the Irish Country House’ and Dr Catherine Ferris’ ‘Music at the National Library of Ireland’. All interested persons and institutions wishing to become involved in RISM Ireland projects are welcomed to apply through any member of the RISM Ireland Steering Committee.

For further information about the RISM Ireland database, contact Dr Catherine Ferris

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