In 1987, I received a fellowship from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation for a year of independent field research into the ballad traditions of Ireland and Scotland. I travelled extensively in both countries, meeting and recording traditional singers of all kinds—street buskers, farmers, and Travellers (tinkers), collecting songs in English, Irish and Scots Gaelic, and in genres from the Child ballad to the sentimental chestnut. Since then, I have returned several times for shorter bouts of collecting in both countries, as well as doing a bit on this side of the Atlantic, in New Brunswick, where I recorded ballads in English and French.


The texts and audio clips in this section constitute a virtual archive of this fieldwork. It is far from complete, and in many cases so far consists of nothing more than the name of the singer and date of the recording. But some transcriptions are in place, as well as a few audio samples. This material is free and open to all researchers and students, as it would be in any brick and mortar archive. The limitations on its use are also what they would be in any brick and mortar archive. Most of the songs are in the public domain. Those that are not belong to their authors. The texts here are transcriptions of particular performances. The performances belong to the singers, and the work of collection, transcription, and the construction of this archive belong to me. The archive and its contents may be used for any legitimate scholarly purpose, but don't sell them or put your name to them. You may download files for your own use, but please don't post them on another website; you are welcome, of course, to link to this page from another site.


Links to maps showing dates and places of collection:

Ireland  Scotland  New Brunswick

Skip the map—just show me a list of singers:

Ireland  Scotland  New Brunswick


A page about the Watson Foundation


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