Irish Music

This is a new magazine (launched August 1995), devoted to Irish traditional and folk music, about to be launched in early August. It sounds like it could be a real winner, based on the contents of the first few issues (see reviews below), and the remarkable lack of any other generally available magazine devoted to Irish music.

Subscription Details

Cost for 1 year/12 issue subscription

Subscription address

Irish Music Magazine
Marne Ltd
PO Box 25
Co Wicklow
ph. +353-1-286-2603
fax +353-1-286-1426
email: (Ronan Nolan, editor)
US Distributors
Ossian USA,
118 Beck Road,
New Hampshire 03301,


The new traditional music magazine "Irish Music" has now produced three issues, so I thought it time to post a review. This magazine fills an important gap in the celtic music publishing world, which is dominated by two general folk/roots publications, Folk Roots from England, and Dirty Linen from the US, as well as one magazine, The Living Tradition, focussed on Scottish traditional music.

Irish Music is monthly, A4 size, on glossy stock, 34 pages long. It typically has about a dozen 2-3 page articles, an events calendar and has just introduced a CD review section. Advertising is light, but growing.

The main articles are a relvation - in any issue, at least half of them are absolutely required reading for me, and overall, I'd say I get at least three times more out of it than any other magazine. Being Irish myself, I do have bias towards the Irish music, but that aside, there is a great deal of information in each issue. The articles cover profiles of current musicians (Ronnie Drew, Mick Moloney and Mairtin O'Connor in the latest issue), historical pieces (a piece on Francis O'Neill of "O'Neill's" fame, antique instuments in the Irish National Museum), topical issues (the liberal vs. conservative debate) and other background on musical styles, resources etc. I've listed the contents of the past three issues below to give a better flavour of the coverage. There is also always one article in Irish, which serves as a good practice ground for those who know a bit of the language, but is useless to those who don't. Given the links between traditional music and language, I for one am very glad to see the magazine at least a little bilingual.

The writing is generally very good. There is a bias towards interviews, and a few don't really get below the surface, but there are also some real gems. So far it has been free from the soapbox style of personal comment that seems widespread in The Living Tradition and goes into some more depth than most articles in Dirty Linen or Folk Roots, though it lacks some of their flair and self-assurance.

The downsides are few: with the abundance of features, there is little space for snippets of news and gossip. The reviews and calendar section are short and have a long way to go before they catch up with the competition. As with most new publications, it has its share of typos and other small errors; the layout is not outstanding, but it is certainly satisfactory.

Is it worth buying? For anyone who is interested in and wants to learn more about Irish traditional music, it's just what the doctor ordered. If your interest is in celtic music in general, it will still be very valuable. If you are just interested in Scottish music, Living Tradition is the one to go for, and if you are more broadly into folk, then check out Folk Roots or Dirty Linen. In price, Irish Music generally undercuts the other celtic music magazines, and though it is significantly shorter than Dirty Linen or Folk Roots, it carries more on celtic music. The current lack of good reviews/calendar sections is about the only thing that holds it back in my mind, but that is expected to evolve with time.





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Gerard Manning