Previous Roy Palmer Lectures

2019, Belfast
Dr John Moulden – The Worlds of Sam Henry


Sam Henry is known world-wide for the newspaper series ‘Songs of the People’ and the singers and publications that draw on it. However, he was much more than that. He allowed himself to be distracted into the fields of journalism, broadcasting, topography, photography, genealogy, archaeology and others. This talk will explore and delineate these diversions to indicate that these diffuse strands of his activity can be drawn together to build a compelling context for the songs, the singers and life in north Ulster in the first half of the 20th century.


Dr John Moulden is a lifelong singer and student, more concerned with the location of songs and singers within their communities than with mere words and music. A former Primary School Principal he is, like Roy Palmer, an advocate of the use of traditional songs in schools; but recent work, led by his doctoral thesis ‘The printed ballad in Ireland’, has been more academic; principally concerned with persuading historians that vernacular songs, properly questioned, are vital components in reaching into the lives of the ordinary people of the past and that literary scholars should appreciate that such songs have qualities not reached by the poetry of the formally educated classes.



2018, Newcastle
Dr Sandra Joyce - He Travelled East and He Travelled West: The Contribution of Travelers to Irish Traditional Song


In ‘He Travelled East and he Travelled West: The Contribution of Travelers to Irish Traditional Song’ Sandra Joyce will discuss the legacy of Travelers to the song tradition of Ireland in the twenty-first century, considering the place of the medieval ballad as well as popular song styles.


Dr Sandra Joyce is Director of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, which has twenty programmes of study from BA to PhD level. Together with Niall Keegan and Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, she founded the BA Irish Music and Dance and MA Irish Traditional Music Performance at the university and has been the course director for both of these programmes.  She has also led the development of many other programmes at the Academy. She is a founding member of the TradSong research cluster, and has supervised a number of PhDs in the area of traditional song. Sandra is a traditional singer and bodhrán player.  Her CD, produced by legendary musician Dónal Lunny and entitled Since You and I have Been: Songs of Love and Loss from the Irish Tradition will be released in 2018.  Her research interests include the Irish song tradition, the Irish harp tradition, and historical sources of Irish traditional music.  Her co-edited volume, Harp Studies: Perspectives on the Irish Harp (with Helen Lawlor) was published by Four Courts Press, Dublin, in 2016.



2017, Sheffield
Prof Ian Russell – Why Study Traditional Song and Singing? A Personal Quest for Meaning


‘In this lecture, I will embark on an exploration of the life journey I have made documenting traditional songs and singing, trying to make sense of the changing landscape, identifying the key moments and encounters, and reflecting on the experiences of fieldwork and scholarship. Along the way, I will be noting significant connections, identifying creativity, sharing transformative experiences, and evaluating my ‘progress’. Ultimately we are all trying to understand an aspect of human expression and it is the people who share and nurture their cultural traditions and with whom we build relationships that provide us with the key, the content and the vision. Fear not, this lecture is not about theory or navel gazing but people, songs and singing’.


Emeritus Professor Ian Russell is the former Director of the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen (1999-2014). This institute specialises in the ethnology and folklore of the North and North East of Scotland. His current research is focused on the traditional culture of NE Scotland, including singing traditions, instrumental traditions, and festivalisation. Since 1969 he has conducted extensive fieldwork into singing traditions in the English Pennines, especially Christmas carolling – and has published The Sheffield Book of Village Carols (2011) and The Derbyshire Book of Village Carols (2012). He is the founder and Director of the Festival of Village Carols, and the President of the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention, which has held meetings in St. John’s in Newfoundland, Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland, Cape Breton Island and Aberdeen. His most recent publication, co-edited with Catherine Ingram, is Taking Part in Music: Case Studies in Ethnomusicology (Aberdeen University Press, 2013). He is Principal Investigator in the AHRC/NAFCo Networking Project ‘Memory, Music and Movement’.



2016, Stroud
Steve Roud – English Folk Song, Some More Conclusions

Steve Roud is one of England’s leading writers on folklore and folk song and his ‘Roud Index of Songs’ has become an essential tool for those interested in exploring the roots of traditional English song. His Introduction to the recent New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs outlined current thinking on English folk song in the 21st Century and set many myths about it to rest. He is now working on a new book for Faber, called Folk Song in England. His talk, ‘English Folk Song, Some More Conclusions’, will describe the latest thinking about English traditional song.

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