Sweeney To Lead Irish Music Center

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Burns Librarian Robert O'Neill has announced the appointment of O'Neill Library Cataloger Elizabeth Sweeney as librarian of the newly-established Irish Music Center, effective Dec. 14.

Sweeney will be responsible for cataloging recordings and other materials donated to the University's Irish music collection, O'Neill said. She also will be involved in outreach for the center, which since its founding as an archive in 1990 has obtained hundreds of recordings of Irish music, some of them extremely rare and dating to the turn of the century.

"Beth is a great choice to head the Irish Music Center," said O'Neill. "She has considerable experience as a librarian and as a musician in the Irish tradition. I am confident that under her leadership the Irish Music Center will grow and flourish."

"This job combines my professional and personal interests in a very special way," said Sweeney, a performer on fiddle and piano. "I've been involved with music my whole life, so this is certainly a great opportunity to put these skills to work. I want to create a space where people can sample both the older and more contemporary material, so they may get a full perspective of the Irish tradition."

The center seeks to collect, preserve and make accessible a complete record of Irish music as performed in America, and document the history of traditional Irish music. Besides audio recordings and music videos, the center will house printed music, manuscripts, music-related photographs, posters, musical instruments, ephemera and memorabilia. It also will keep archival records of organizations, groups and individuals related to Irish music as performed in America. In addition, the center will record important and unique performances, and will sponsor events that recognize and promote greater awareness of Irish music.

"Boston College has made a commitment to preserving the Irish legacy and I'm happy to be part of that effort," said Sweeney.

Elizabeth Sweeney. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Sweeney joined O'Neill Library in 1989, and over the past few years has cataloged the University's Irish music collection and served as a bibliographer for the Irish Studies Program. Prior to arriving at Boston College, Sweeney worked from 1986-89 as a monographs cataloger for University of Georgia Libraries.

Her Irish music experience includes stints as a member of the Cape Cod Fiddlers band and the duo Shorten the Road. She has recorded an album with the Cape Cod Fiddlers and played on the soundtrack for the film "Out of the Ashes: Northern Ireland's Fragile Peace," produced and directed by Prof. John Michalczyk (Fine Arts). Sweeney also has studied fiddle under Irish Studies Music Programs Director Seamus Connolly.

She earned a bachelor's degree in English literature in 1984 and a master's degree in 1985 from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Sweeney also has done coursework in the Irish Studies Program and the International Graduate Summer School of the College of Librarianship in Wales.

The archive which provided a basis for the Irish Music Center was founded following the 1990 musical festival "My Love Is in America: The Boston College Fiddle Festival," and formally created a year later at Burns in conjunction with the Music Department and Irish Studies Program.

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