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Mick Moloney Irish-American Music and Popular Culture Commercial Recordings Collection

Call Number



circa 1903-1999, inclusive
; 1910-1995, bulk


Moloney, Mick, 1944-


50.09 Linear Feet in 3 record cartons, 1 manuscript box, 5 flat boxes, 1 oversized flat box, and 3 LP boxes
3640 sound discs
242 audiocassettes
19 item empty LP sleeves

Language of Materials

Materials are in English and Irish.


The Mick Moloney Irish-American Music and Popular Culture Collection documents nearly a century of Irish and Irish-American music in all its permutations from Tin Pan Alley through the folk revival and beyond. The collection is comprised of 78 RPM records, 33 1/3 RPM LPs, 45 RPM records, and audio cassettes collected by Mick Moloney over the course of four decades. While the majority of the discs are commercial recordings of Irish music released on American labels, the collection also contains releases on Irish, English and Scottish labels representing both Irish music and closely related musical traditions in those countries. A small number of non-commercial acetates and privately made recordings are also found in the collection.

Historical/Biographical Note

Dr. Mick Moloney (1944-2022) was a native of Limerick, Ireland, and was a Global Distinguished Professor of Music and Irish Studies at New York University. He immigrated to the United States in 1973 and was based in Philadelphia until moving to New York City in 2006. A musician and folklorist, he recorded and produced over forty albums of traditional music and acted as advisor for scores of festivals and concerts, as well as being artistic director for the musical ensemble The Green Fields of America. In 1999 Mick Moloney was awarded the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest official honor a traditional artist can receive in the United States. He was the author of the book and CD Far from the Shamrock Shore (2002), the author of numerous essays on Irish music and musical culture, and a co-editor of Close to the Floor: Irish Dance from the Boreen to Broadway (2009). Dr. Moloney received his Ph.D. in folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania.

For further biographical information, see:

Steve Winnick, "From Limerick Rake to Solid Man: The Musical Life of Mick Moloney," Dirty Linen, No. 48 (October/November 1993)

1999 NEA National Heritage Fellowships online at

Mick Moloney, Musician and Folklorist at


The materials in this collection are organized into four series:

Series I: 78 RPM Records

Series II: 33 1/3 RPM Records

Series III: 45 RPM Records

Series IV: Cassettes

All series are arranged alphabetically by artist.

Scope and Content Note

This section of the Moloney Collection is made up of sound recordings on disc collected by Mick Moloney over the course of four decades. The majority of the recordings are commercial releases although there is small number of non-commercial acetates and privately made recordings. The collection, which began as Moloney's personal LP collection, mushroomed in 1978 when he acquired the record library of the Irish Hour, the longest running Irish radio show in Philadelphia, PA, hosted by Pat Stanton (See Patrick Stanton Papers, Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, Philadelphia, PA.). These 542 78 RPM records inspired Moloney to seek out other early and hard-to-find Irish and Irish-related recordings. By scouring record shops, participating in record auctions and collaborating with record dealers, Moloney increased the collection over the next thirty years to its current size of 2301 78 RPM records. Over the same period, Moloney continued to acquire LPs and 45s for use as teaching resources, as a byproduct of his roles as producer and promoter, and for his own enjoyment, resulting in an eclectic mix of titles across many genres. The 718 LPs and 51 45s of particular Irish interest are included in Part II, while the remainder has been integrated into the Avery Fisher Center main collection at Bobst Library. An inventory of the original collection is available at the repository.

Taken as a whole, the discs in Part I of the Moloney collection document nearly a century of Irish and Irish-American music in all its recorded permutations from Tin Pan Alley through the folk revival and beyond. While the focus is on commercial recordings released on major and independent labels in the United States, the collection also features a sizeable number of releases on Irish, English and Scottish labels representing both Irish and closely related musical traditions in those countries. Part I is particularly noteworthy for its coverage of Irish music with broad popular appeal as compared to Part II, which is more focused on traditional instrumental Irish music.

Series I: 78 RPM Records, includes discs representing over fifty years of recorded Irish music from the early years of the format to its obsolescence in the 1950s. The vaudeville/Tin Pan Alley tradition is well represented in major label releases of Irish-themed songs performed by the first recording stars of the twentieth century such as Henry Burr, Billy Murray, Ada Jones and Nora Bayes. Sheet music for many of these titles, such as "Killarney and You," "If I Knock the 'L' Out of Kelly," and "Are You the O'Reilly?" may be found in Part IV of the Moloney collection. Humorous skits from the Irish-American stage of this period can also be found in this series such as "A Backyard Conversation between Two Jealous Irish Washwomen."

Particularly early recordings in Series I include the pre-1905 Zon-O-Phone discs, "The Mick That Threw the Brick" by Mr. John Terrell and Ed Favor's "Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder?" Of some interest is a mini collection of seventeen 5 1/2" Little Wonder discs from the 1910s and a sizeable number of Irish-themed Edison Diamond Discs. A quarter inch thick and requiring an alternate playback technology, Diamond Discs were produced between 1912 and 1929 when they were discontinued.

Later iterations of the Irish-American popular song tradition are abundant in Series I, exemplified by the 1930s and 1940s Decca recordings of the McNulty Family and the 1940s and 1950s recordings of Mickey and Mary Carton, Ruthie Morrissey, and Connie Foley. Examples of a parallel popular tradition in Ireland and Britain is evidenced in the many recordings of Delia Murphy for His Master's Voice, Jack Daly for Regal Zonophone and Joe Lynch for Glenside, among others.

Series I is also rich in examples of the Irish art song tradition featuring a wealth of recordings by Irish tenors such as Charles Harrison, Seamus O'Doherty, William Kennedy and John McCormack and their British counterparts Father Sydney MacEwan, Robert Wilson and Michael Duffy. Baritones, Robert Irwin and Michael O'Higgins also feature strongly while fewer examples of the trained female voice appear.

A broad sampling of Irish traditional instrumental music is also a feature of Series I. Transformations in style and performance can be readily traced from the earthy 1916 banjo and accordion duets of Edward Herborn and James Wheeler on Columbia to Sean Maguire's polished 1950s records on the London label. While original recordings by virtuoso instrumentalists Michael Coleman, Hugh Gillespie and Paddy Cronin (violin), John Kimmel and Joe Derrane (accordion) and Leo Rowsome and Tom Ennis (pipes) appear in Series I, there is also a broad array of instrumental music by lesser known traditional artists. The sound of the urban Irish-American dance halls of the 1920s and 1930s is preserved in the many recordings of Paddy Killoran's various ensembles, O'Leary's Irish Minstrels and Dan Sullivan's Shamrock Band. In addition, the Ceili Band tradition is well represented, with recordings by the Aughrim Slopes, the Austin Stack, the Ballinakill, and Frank Lee's Tara Ceilidhe Band to name a few.

While major labels, Columbia, Victor and Decca dominate the series, Bluebird, Brunswick, Okeh and Vocalion releases are also numerous, as are discs from smaller independent labels, particularly the small ethnic labels, Copley and Celtic. Foreign labels include Glenside, Irish, and Tara from Ireland and His Master's Voice, London, Regal Zonophone and Rex from England, while Scotland is represented by a host of releases on the Beltona and Parlophone labels. In fact, a distinctive feature of Series I is a strong Scottish presence. Twentieth century Philadelphia attracted immigrants mainly from the north of Ireland, particularly Donegal, a county with strong cultural ties to Scotland. As a result, the city's Irish community retained a close affinity for Scottish music. The roughly 542 78s in Series I that originated as the record library of Philadelphia's largest Irish radio show reflect this Scottish bias, with large holdings of music by such artists as Jimmy Shand and the Scots Guards Pipes and Drums.

Series II: 33 1/3 RPM Records continues to document recorded Irish music from the demise of the 78 through the ascendance of the CD in the 1990s. Some of the earliest discs in this series are 28 LPs on New York's Avoca label from the 1950s and 1960s, featuring such artists as fiddler Jackie Roche and balladeers Anne Greehy and Willy Brady.

While the popular tastes of mainstream Irish America are well evidenced in discs released on Columbia, RCA and Rego, Series II is particularly strong in documenting the renewed interest in folk and traditional music in the 1970s and 1980s. The majority of Series II consists of traditional instrumental and vocal music released on such Irish labels as Mulligan, Claddagh, Tara and Outlet and on American labels, Shanachie and Green Linnet, many of which have not to date been reissued on CD. The series also contains many Irish-language recordings on the Gael-linn label.

Contemporary folk revivals in England and America are also well represented in Series II through the releases on Topic/Free Reed and Folkways respectively, as are related vocal and instrumental traditions from Scotland, Canada, Brittany and Wales on a smaller scale. From field recordings to festival compilations to releases by major label acts, the discs in this category invariably contain at least one selection related to the Irish tradition in more or less overt ways, providing an interesting insight into the impact and evolution of Irish music and the interconnectedness of Celtic traditions on a more global scale.

Series III: 45 RPM Records achieves many of the same goals as Series II. Items of note are a multi-disc set of traditional dance music by fiddler Eugene O'Donnell and EPs by harpist/actor Christopher Casson, entertainer Pete McNulty and accordionist John Whelan.

Series IV: Cassettes includes several hundred commercially issued cassettes of Irish and Irish-American music (1980-1999), as well as some audiobooks. Artists in this series include U2, Mick Moloney, the Pogues, and more.

Access Restrictions

Open for research without restrictions.

Use Restrictions

Copyright of the items in the collection are either held by their creators or in the public domain, depending on publication date, publication country, and whether or not the work was registered with a copyright notice. Users need not secure permission from the Tamiment library to publish or reproduce materials in this collection in the public domain; permission to publish or reproduce materials to which original creators hold copyright must be secured from the copyright holder. Please contact the Tamiment Library for assistance with contacting donor.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date; Mick Moloney Irish-American Music and Popular Culture Collection, Part I: Commercial Recordings; box number; folder number; Archives of Irish America; Tamiment Library New York University Libraries.

Custodial History

New York University's Division of Libraries, in conjunction with Glucksman Ireland House at New York University, purchased the Mick Moloney Collection for the Archives of Irish America in 2006. Until the Collection was transferred to New York University, under the supervision of Dr. Michael Nash, Head of the Tamiment Library, the materials were stored in Dr. Moloney's house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The accession numbers associated with this collection are 2006.071, 2010.019, and 2010.073.

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Access to some audiovisual materials in this collection is available through digitized access copies. Researchers may view an item's original container, but the media themselves are not available for playback because of preservation concerns. Materials that have already been digitized are noted in the collection's finding aid and can be requested in our reading room. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Mick Moloney Irish American Music and Popular Culture Collection, Part II: Field Recordings. (AIA.031.002)

Mick Moloney Irish American Music and Popular Culture Collection, Part III: Mick Moloney Papers. (AIA.031.003)

Mick Moloney Irish American Music and Popular Culture Collection, Part IV: Irish Americana. (AIA.031.004)

Dorothy Hayden Cudahy Irish Memories Collection. (AIA.001)

Collection processed by

Brendan Dolan

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 16:29:05 -0400.
Language: Description is in English

Processing Information

In February 2022, the two record cartons containing 200+ audiocassette tapes were processed by an archivist. The tapes were rehoused into archival flatboxes, cassette cases were replaced when needed, unique AV identifiers were assigned to each tape, and the cassettes were arranged in alphabetical order by artist. It should be noted that at the time of processing, some audiocassette tapes were sent to preservation for mold and rust treatment. In March 2022, the finding aid was updated to reflect the addition of these processed audiocassette tapes.

63 audio cassette tapes, which are now housed in Box 5 (31142067195050) and Box 6 (31142067164718), were identified as moldy February 2022. These items are currently isolated from other items by housing them in a polyethylene bag with a desiccated board and RH monitor strip. If this strip indicates an RH greater than 50%, the Preservation Department should be contacted ASAP. Do not open this packaging without contacting the Preservation Department.

In summer 2022, 76 78 RPM record discs and 15 phonodiscs were treated for mold by New York University's Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department and added as an accretion to this collection. Additionally, 19 empty LP sleeves were also added to the collection as an accretion. Although the provenance of these materials is largely unknown, beyond their affiliation with Mick Moloney, the archivist felt it appropriate to integrate these additional records into this collection. The finding aid was updated to reflect the addition of these materials. The 78 RPM record discs and 19 empty LP sleeves were packed according to professional standards and sent offsite. The broken phonodiscs, which were stabilized by the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department, were kept on site.

Revisions to this Guide

March 2022: Updated by Aki Snyder to include unprocessed audiocassettes
August 2022: Updated by Aki Snyder to include 76 78 RPM record discs and 15 phono discs that were treated for mold by New York University's Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department.
August 2022: Updated by Aki Snyder to include 19 empty LP sleeves
June 2023: Updated by Olivija Liepa to state that audio materials have been digitized and are accessible to patrons.


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012