In May 1984, Dublin born song collector found himself in Buncrana, in the home of Jimmy McBride surrounded by among others Corney McDaid, Colm Toland and Jim MacFarland. Visiting the area to record on behalf of the Department of Irish Folklore, University College Dublin, the gathering was to open a door to a lifetime of friendship and support for Inishowen songs & singers.
The documentary follows Tom's life through interviews with family, friends, singers, and colleagues and is richly interwoven with archival recordings, including his annual trip to the Inishowen Singing Weekend. It was Tom who encouraged Jimmy McBride to record and document the singers of Inishowen and to found the Inishowen International Folk Song & Ballad Seminar in 1990. Each year at the festival, he delivered the opening lecture on a song research topic, and did so until his death in 2007.
Inishowen like many singers, and song communities across the island of Ireland is indebted to Tom's passion and professionalism in archiving over 20,000 songs during his lifetime. His influence echoes through his writing, the organisations he founded and worked for, and in the continued singing of songs.
ITSC was honoured to take part in Fear na nAmhrán, and to gather together Jimmy, Jim & Colm 39 years after their first meeting with Tom back in 1984 for a night of songs to celebrate and remember Fear na nAmhrán, Tom Munnelly (1944-2007).
The hour long documentary produced and directed by Sorcha Glackin was broadcast on Christmas Eve, 2023, and is now available to watch on the TG4 player here:
To keep up to date with all that's going on at ITSC
Follow us on