Dr Karol Mullaney-Dignam, BA, HDIH, PhD, completed her doctoral thesis in 2008 under the supervision of Professor R.V. Comerford at NUI Maynooth. Her thesis, ‘State, nation and music in independent Ireland 1922-51', examined the role of music in the creation of the Irish nation and the role of the newly independent state in directing developments in musical activity in Ireland. Since 2008, Karol has been affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates (CSHIHE) in the Department of History. Her current research centres on social activity, particularly music and dancing, in the Irish country house.
Karol is currently an IRCHSS Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow at the National University of Ireland Maynooth, under the auspices of the Department of Music and the Department of History.
Research Project: 'Music in the Irish Country House'
funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS)
The objectives of this interdisciplinary project are:
- to identify and catalogue the music collections of selected country houses in Ireland;
- to interpret the historical context within which these collections were assembled, utilised and maintained in Ireland;
- to create knowledge of and digital access to these primary sources through their catalogues;
- to work to preserve, interpret and present these sources for public consumption in collaboration with house owners and custodians.
Using selected country houses in private ownership as case studies, the measure and range of musical activity in these aristocratic and landed-family homes, as well as the functionality of music as an aspect of domesticity or sociability, will be investigated. Historical accounts of musical activity, repertory and performance practice will be constructed and will include descriptions of:
- surviving music collections (including all manuscript, printed and published documentation containing musical notation, references to or representations of musical activity; musical artefacts, including mechanical instruments and electronic apparatus);
- social events, such as parties and balls, held at the houses which required the use of music;
- physical spaces within which musical sociability took place: ballroom, music salon, nursery.
Musical iconography (representations of musical activity in paintings, furnishings or architectural features) and examples of compositions characteristic of the time will be examined. Where possible musical works expressly dedicated to, or played by, certain members of the family members will be identified.
This project will undoubtedly enrich our understanding of musical and social history in Ireland. It will also provide new, relevant and reliable information which can be used to attract new audiences and visitors to the selected properties. This underlines the potential for and crucial value of collaboration between academic researchers and those involved with Ireland's built heritage sector. It also points to the practical ways in which research that retrieves information and reconstructs narratives of the past can function in modern Irish society.
Conference and seminar presentations
- ‘Music in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Irish country house'. Music Department Research Seminar, National University of Ireland Maynooth (November 2010).
- ‘Entertainment in the Irish country house'. Irish Georgian Society Study Day for the Art Teachers Association of Ireland, Castletown House, Celbridge, Co. Kildare (October 2010).
- ‘The "Music in the Irish Country House" project: origins and objectives'. History Department Research Seminar, NUI Maynooth (October 2010).
- ‘Music and dancing at Carton: the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries'. Carton and the Fitzgeralds Conference, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare (August 2010)
- ‘Music and dancing at Castletown, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, 1759-1821'. Eighth Annual Historic Houses of Ireland Conference, NUI Maynooth (June 2010).
- ‘Representations of musical activity in the Retrospections of Dorothea Herbert (1770-1829)'. Women and Music in Ireland Conference, NUI Maynooth (April 2010).
- ‘Music in the Irish Country House: an interdisciplinary research initiative'. Seventh Annual Historic Houses of Ireland Conference, Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates, NUI Maynooth (June 2009).
- ‘Challenging the future: The Music in the Irish Country House project'. Humanities challenging the future: An Foras Feasa Annual Conference, Department of Music & Creative Media, Dundalk Institute of Technology (June 2009).
- ‘La Musica in Irlanda: una breve introduzione/Music in Ireland: a brief introduction' Aspetti di alcune piccole regioni del mondo: International Ireland-Sicily Colloqium, NUI Maynooth (May 2009).
- ‘Trinity College Dublin and the Irish National Anthem, 1929'. Irish History Students' Association (IHSA) Annual Conference, Queen's University, Belfast (March 2007).
- The political context for and location of developments in musical activity, 1922-32'. New Directions in Music Studies: National Graduate Conference for Ethnomusicology, Music Faculty, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (July 2006).
- ‘Forging a musical culture: state, nation and music in Ireland, 1922-1932'. Musical culture and memory: Eighth International Symposium of the Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology, Faculty of Music, University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia (April 2006).
- The case of the Cork school of music, 1923-30'. Research Seminar, Department of History, NUI Maynooth (April 2005).
- ‘State, nation and music in Ireland: the Cork School of Music, 1923-1930'. IHSA Annual Conference, Trinity College Dublin (February 2005).
- 'Music and dancing in the Irish country house in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries'. Lecture 5, Strokestown Park House Winter Lecture Series 2010-11, Strokestown Park House, Co. Roscommon (March 2011).
- 'A brief history of musical activity at Castletown House'. Lecture 5, CSHIHE-OPW Castletown Winter Lecture Series 2009-10, Castletown, Celbridge, Co. Kildare (March 2010).
- 'Music in Ireland: an introduction'. Five-week public lecture series delivered at the County Museum, Dundalk, Co. Louth (February-March 2009).
- Articles in the forthcoming Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland (EMIR)
- Music and dancing at Castletown, Co. Kildare, 1759-1821 (Maynooth Local History Series, forthcoming, 2011).
- ‘The Music in the Irish Country House project: origins and objectives' in Terence Dooley and Christopher Ridgway (eds), The Irish country house: its past, present and future (forthcoming, 2011).
- ‘Forging a musical culture: state, nation and music in Ireland, 1922-1932' in Tatjana Marković and Vesna Mikić (eds), Musical Culture and Memory (Belgrade, 2008).
- 2010-12: Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship. Project title: ‘Music in the Irish country house’
- 2009-10: Office of Public Works. Project title: ‘The historical context for musical activity in historic properties managed by the.’ Case studies: Castletown, Farmleigh & Kilkenny Castle
- 2008: Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates. Project title: ‘Music in the Irish Country House: Pilot study at Birr Castle, Birr, Co Offaly’
- Member of Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM) Ireland, Working Group 2010-
- Member of the Society for Musicology in Ireland (SMI), 2010-
- Conference and events co-ordinator at Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates, Department of History, NUI Maynooth, 2008-10.