The Evolution of Irish Folk Theatre

​This ongoing project focuses on the emergence and development of folk theatre in Ireland with particular reference to Siamsa Tíre, The National Folk Theatre of Ireland. As well as engaging with the material presented on stage, the project considers the impact of tourism on Irish culture and cultural production, changing concepts of folk culture in an increasingly urbanized state and the potential of folk theatre to create as well as reflect a community and society. Papers draw selectively on the repertoire of performances devised by Siamsa Tíre over the past half century, highlighting themes and developments that inform an understanding of the art form and changes in Irish society more generally.

To date, publications include:

  • Kearney, D. 'From Tralee to Times Square: Siamsa Tíre on Broadway', How Popular Culture Travels: Cultural Exchanges between Ireland and the United States. Eds. Sylvie Mikowski and Yann Philippe. Reims: EPURE 2019.

  • Kearney, D. ‘Reliving Island Life: Staging Stories of the Blasket Islands’ Estudios Irlandeses 2017, 12(2), pp.73-90. 

  • Kearney, D.  ‘Revisiting Samhain: Two Directions on a Theme’ in New Crops, Old Fields: (Re)imagining Irish Folklore ed. Conor Caldwell and Eamon Byers (Peter Lang, 2016).

  • Kearney, D.   ‘Pioneer of Folk Theatre, Pat Ahern of North Kerry’ in Irish Music Magazine No. 237, March 2015, p. 41.

  • Kearney, D. ‘The evolution of Irish folk theatre’ In: R. Amoêda, S. Lira and C. Pinheiro (Eds) Sharing Cultures 2013: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Intangible Heritage (Lisbon: Greenlines Institute, 2013).

Conference Presentations include:

  • ‘Folklore on Stage: Fifty Years of Summer Productions by Siamsa Tíre’, Béaloideas Na hÉireann / Irish Folklore Seimineáir Iarchéime / Graduate Seminars 2018-2019, University College Dublin, 20 November 2018. 

  • ‘Entertainment of the Land: Community and Regionality in Irish Folk Theatre’. ISTR Annual Conference: Regions, Ruins and Regeneration, University of Lincoln, 5 June 2018. 

  • ‘Tourism, Touring and Staged Folklore: Constructing an Identity for Consumers’ Éisitigí. Dundalk Institute of Technology, 17 May 2018. 

  •  ‘Tourism, Touring and Staged Folklore: Constructing an Identity for Consumers’ Staged Folklore - The National Folk Theatre of Ireland 1968 - 1998. Siamsa Tíre / Institute of Technology Tralee, 11 May 2018. 

  • ‘A quest for meaning in Irish folk traditions: the legacy of Fr Pat Ahern’ 44th ICTM World Conference, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, 13-19 
July 2017 

  • ‘Beyond Traditional: Engaging with the Diversity of Music in the Work of Pat Ahern’ Society for Musicology in Ireland Annual Plenary, Queens University, Belfast, 17 June 2017. 

  • ‘From Tralee to Times Square: Irish Folk Theatre on Broadway’ CIRLEP, University of Reims Champagne Ardenne, 17 June 2016. 

  • ‘From Ballymac to Broadway: Irish Folk Theatre on the American Stage’ Society for Musicology in Ireland Annual Plenary, Dublin City University, 12 June 2016. 

  • ‘What about Danny Boy?: The challenging of American perceptions of Irishness by Siamsa Tíre in 1976’ 22nd Music Research Colloquium, Dundalk Institute of Technology, 19 May 2016. 

  • 'Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann': Music and Commemoration in Irish Folk Theatre’ ICTM Ireland Annual Conference ‘Music and Commemoration’, St Patrick’s College, DCU, 27 February to 28 February 2016. 

  •  ‘Seeking Inspiration, Reliving Lives: The Role of Archives in Irish Folk Theatre’ Performing the Archive, International Conference NUI Galway, 22-24 July 2015. 

  • 'Staging Place: Encountering North Kerry through Irish traditional music, song, dance and mime' Music, Place and Community - ICTM Ireland Annual Conference, NUI Galway, 22 February 2014 

  • 'Revisiting Samhain: Two Directions on a Theme' New Crops, Old Fields – (Re)Imagining Irish Folklore Old McMordie Hall, School of Music, Queen's University Belfast 6 September 2013 

  •  ‘Stepping into the Otherworld: Representations of Irish folk culture’, 17th Music Research Colloquium, Dundalk Institute of Technology. 16 December 2013 

  • 'The Evolution of Irish Folk Theatre' Sharing Cultures 3rd International Conference on Intangible Heritage Greenlines Institute, Aveiro, Portugal, July 2013  

  • 'Cultural trustees and the inheritance of tradition: Presenting the music, song and dance of Kerry and Cork' Clonakilty Dúchas Heritage Public Lecture, Clonakilty, Co Cork 12 June 2013  

  • 'Seeing Frankenstein in the west of Ireland: Presenting Irish culture to tourist audiences' Society for Musicology in Ireland Annual Conference NUI Maynooth 23 June 2013 

  • ‘From the altar to the stage: the role of Fr Pat Ahern in the representation of Irish music, song, dance and story on the Irish stage’ at The First International Conference on Irish Music and Musicians, University of Durham, 12th – 15th July, 2010.