University of Limerick
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‘Music, maps and mavericks: an investigation into traditional Irish music festivals and cultural tourism in Ireland’

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posted on 2024-01-12, 20:22 authored by Fiana Ní ChonaillFiana Ní Chonaill

This research explores the phenomenon of traditional Irish music festivals (TIMFs) and whether they can be considered catalysts for cultural tourism activities. Music has developed ‘from being an adjunct to tourism’ in the 1960s, ‘to occupying a central role as a motivation for travel’ in Ireland in this millennium (Gibson & Connell 2005, p.7). In doing so, music, and specifically TIMFs, offer a basis to develop tourism experiences with which visitors will engage when they attend festivals. However, despite numerous attempts to establish a music strategy within the Irish tourism offering (Failte Ireland 2014, 2015, 2019), the integration of TIMFs into the cultural tourism framework remains elusive, exhibiting a need for the current study. The research questions ask: What are the stakeholder motivations for creating and engaging with traditional Irish music festivals? How can traditional Irish music festivals become a catalyst for cultural tourism activities?

The study draws on music, cultural tourism and Irish studies literature, offering insight into culture, heritage and entertainment as a significant tourism subsector (Deane & Doyle, 1997; Laventhol & Horvath, 1986; McKerrell & Hornabrook, 2018). It places people and motivation at the heart of the tourism process which justifies the focus on motivation alongside cultural tourism. Preliminary observations, interviews with festival organisers and the compilation of a catalogue of TIMFs helped to determine a single ethnographic case study of Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy (SSWC) as the appropriate research focus. Analysing SSWC as a site of study contributes to its recognition, articulation and measurement within the interdisciplinary fields of music, cultural tourism and Irish studies. Pivotal findings demonstrate that Traditional Irish Music (TIM) can be considered as a hybrid of cultural and creative tourism and also indicate that music is a cultural heritage asset which is consumed by tourists in the context of TIMFs. Conclusions also emerge from field research that illustrate how TIMFs can become a catalyst for the purposes of cultural tourism activities. This study contributes a catalogue of TIMFs. It also contributes to the aforementioned discourses, adding to the literature in an Irish context



  • Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Sandra Joyce

Department or School

  • Irish World Academy of Music & Dance

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