Poster showing B/W image of Thomas O Maile

Vivid Voices: Tomás Ó Máille and Sound Recording in the Modern Irish State

6:00pm - 7:30pm / Thursday 9th May 2024 / Venue: LT7 Rendall Building
Type: Lecture / Category: Department
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The Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, is delighted to host Deirdre Ní Chonghaile for a talk on Tomás Ó Máille, first professor of Irish at the University of Galway. This lecture marks Prof. Ó Máille’s contribution — unparalleled in scale and ambition — to the audio heritage of Ireland and coincides with the bilingual exhibition Culture & Citizenship: Tomás Ó Máille running at the Sidney Jones Library, University of Liverpool, from16 April and until 31 May.

Tomás Ó Máille (1880-1938) was the inaugural Professor of Irish at University College Galway. Born in 1880 in the Maam Valley in Connemara into a prosperous, Irish-speaking family, Tomás trained in Dublin, Manchester, Liverpool, Baden, Berlin, and Freiburg where he was awarded his doctorate in 1909. He was associated with the West Connemara flying column, and his brother Pádraic (1876–1946) was a member of the first Dáil. Belonging to the coterie of radical intellectuals and political and cultural leaders of the War of Independence, Ó Máille’s achievements are rightly considered alongside those of his fellow revolutionaries, his friend Patrick Pearse and fellow academics Thomas McDonagh and Éamon de Valera. A folklore and song collector, newspaper editor, linguist, and teacher, Ó Máille was in a pioneer in many ways. His greatest foresight was his commitment to the newest technology of his day — audio recording. From 1928, he created over 500 recordings of speech, storytelling, and song from Irish speakers throughout Connacht and Clare, which can now be heard at

Deirdre Ní Chonghaile is a musician, broadcaster, and author of Collecting Music in the Aran Islands (2021). As an independent digital curator, she is supporting the development of the Tomás Ó Máille audio recordings at the University of Galway Library.