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Boston College Gaelic Roots Festival records

Collection IM-M070-1993: Boston College Gaelic Roots Festival records


  • Creation: 1993 - 2003

Scope and Contents

Boston College Gaelic Roots Festival is primarily documented through audio and video recordings of music and dance performances and lectures. There are also extensive color snapshot photographs of the festival, and these include classes and workshops as well as concerts and lectures. A smaller amount of paper and born-digital files from Séamus Connolly and Chrysandra Walter capture event planning through correspondence, class descriptions, evaluations, press releases, artist schedules, performer head shots and biographies, radio spot scripts, newspaper clippings, and drafts of the festival programs. The records also include a finalized program for each year.

Recordings become more robust over the years. The first festival was only captured in audio but by the 2000s documented on audio plus two different video feeds, with an "A" and "B" camera capturing different angles of the stage (often "A" was fixed and "B" was roving).

Printed programs were produced in small newspaper format and published in advance of the festival and include festival highlights, letters from the festival director and Boston College president, instructor biographies, registration forms, and a full schedule listing performers.

Boston College Gaelic Roots Music, Song, Dance, Workshop, and Lecture Series materials are described separately from the Festival materials.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Audiovisual recordings have been digitally copied; all original media were retained, but may not be played due to format. Multitrack audio recordings (DTRS and ADAT) cannot be reformatted by Burns Library at this time and are not available for playback due to format impermanence. In a few instances for which audio was exclusively recorded in one of these formats, migration was outsourced.

Original digital text and image files in this collection have also been migrated from source media.

Digital use copies for all audiovisual and digital content can only be accessed in the Burns Library Reading Room.

Conditions Governing Use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Historical Note

Boston College Gaelic Roots Festival was launched in 1993 as "Gaelic Roots: The Music, Song and Dance of Ireland, Cape Breton and Scotland." It was sponsored by Boston College's Irish Studies Program and organized by faculty member Séamus Connolly.

The first festival spanned a long weekend in October and included instructional workshops, concerts, and lectures, as well as the Uilleann Pipers Tionól (gathering or conference). It brought master musicians in the Celtic tradition from North America, Ireland, and the British Isles. It featured an opening evening Céilí Dance, a full day of workshops punctuated with concerts and lectures, and concluded with Sunday afternoon and evening masters concerts, which became a feature of all subsequent festivals. In 1995 "Gaelic Roots II" followed a similar format to the first festival, presented on a fall weekend and comprising similar events. In 1996, spearheaded by Connolly, the Irish Studies Program produced a CD of music from the two weekend festivals.

In 1997 "Gaelic Roots III: A Music and Dance Summer School and Festival Week" expanded the program. With the longer format, students at all levels could take classes across several days as well as single workshops, participate in informal sessions, and perform in a student recital on the closing weekend. A mid-week evening dance boat cruise and a pub night with further opportunities to perform also became standing features of the summer festival. Concerts and recitals by master musicians continued to be a key feature of the week, open to the public as well as the summer school students.

Beginning in 1998 the program was called "Gaelic Roots: A Music, Song and Dance Summer School and Festival" and was produced annually rather than biennially. The Boston College Music Department, long a participant in the program, formally became a co-sponsor alongside the Irish Studies Program for 1998 and 1999. Séamus Connolly trademarked the name "Gaelic Roots" in the fall of 1998, and he continued to direct the festival throughout its summer school iterations. Although not formally a festival staff member, Connolly's wife, Chrysandra (Sandy) Walter, who was also a co-founder of the Lowell National Folk Festival, contributed extensive organizational assistance to the festival. Planning and promoting the week-long festivals also relied on the work of a paid year-round graduate student and a dedicated group of volunteers.

After the 2003 festival, Connolly reconfigured the program again, this time more substantially. The new Boston College Gaelic Roots Music, Song, Dance, Workshop, and Lecture Series became part of the Irish Studies Program academic year programming.


Buckley, Rebecca. "Culture, dance, with Gaelic Roots BC's little-known Irish events deserve acclaim." The Heights, Volume LXXXVIII, Number 36, 15 October 2007

Gaelic Roots programs, Box 7, Folders 1-4, Boston College Gaelic Roots Festival records, IM.M070.1993, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Smith, Sean. "Gaelic Roots Music and Dance Festival to Use Expanded Format Again This Year." Boston College Chronicle, Vol. 6, No. 13, 12 March 1998.


12.75 Linear Feet (17 containers)

3429 Gigabytes (966 files, including approximately 360 hours of audiovisual recordings)

Language of Materials



Boston College Gaelic Roots Festival records document lectures and performances on Irish, Scottish, and Cape Breton traditional music, song and dance produced by the Irish Studies Program under the coordination of faculty member Séamus Connolly. The collection primarily consists of audio and video recordings of events, complemented by brochures, correspondence, photographs, and planning documents, from the time of the festival's inception as a weekend event in 1993 through the end of its time as a weeklong summer school in 2003.


Arranged by festival year. Within each year event photographs and planning materials precede recordings, which are in chronological order.

Other Finding Aids

This index is intended to assist in identifying which faculty, performers, and presenters participated each year of the Gaelic Roots Festival. Many of the individuals were recorded on audio and/or video during one or more public-facing events. The index was compiled from festival brochures, media labels, and other sources by Boston College Irish music librarian Beth Sweeney in 2022.

Permanent link:


Transferred from Gaelic Roots Festival staff in multiple accessions 1993-2003.

Existence and Location of Copies

Select recordings and clips of Gaelic Roots Festival events have been posted on the Burns Library Irish Music Archives YouTube channel.

Related Materials

Boston College Gaelic Roots Music, Song, Dance, Workshop, and Lecture Series recordings, IM.M071.2003, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Boston College "My Love Is in America" Irish fiddle festival records, IM.M003.1990, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Séamus Connolly Papers, IM.M064.1999, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Boston College Gaelic Roots Festival Records
Lynn Moulton
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States