The 1916 Song Project was a national research and  performance project devised and produced by Michael Fortune and Aileen Lambert for the 2016 Commemoration Programme and features some of the country's most respected traditional singers and songwriters. The project was supported by the National Library of Ireland, the Arts Council of Ireland, the Irish Traditional Music Archive and local authorities in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, Meath and Wexford and Galway City.

The 1916 Song Project was based around the principles of shared knowledge, support and co-operation and work began on the project in late 2014. In 2015, the selected singers first met in the National Library where they began research on a particular themes, events and figures connected to The Easter Rising.

Singers meeting in the NLI, October 2015


Song has always been a vehicle to remember the past in Ireland. We had a huge body of 1798 songs written in 1898 at the Centenary of the 1798 Rising. However, with the War of Independence and ensuing Civil War, the body of 1916 Rising related songs was small. So the project used the 2016 Centenary as an opportunity for singers to write new songs in the traditional style that would help us reflect, challenge and introduce us to previously unsung heroes and stories from the period.

Song was a huge element in the lives of the Volunteers in 1916. At the time, songs and the act of singing were used to boost morale but most of all they were used to remember historical events and spread political beliefs. The Witness Statements are littered with references to songs and the role they played in promoting political ideals of the time, from the 1798 songs of Wexford to actual accounts of songs sung at that time. For example, we learned that the night before the Fingal Volunteers attacked Ashbourne RIC barracks in Meath they had a singing session and we have a record of the songs sung,

Singers at the final concert in tour in The Athenaeum in Enniscorthy, May 2016

This was Ireland’s premier traditional song event for the 2016 Commemorations and through the vision of Lambert and Fortune, combined with the skills of the singers involved, the project launched a new body of songs into the traditional song repertoire for decades and centuries to come.

Between April and May 2016, the project toured to six locations around Ireland: The National Library of Ireland (Dublin), The LexIcon (Dún Laoghaire), The Séamus Ennis Centre (Fingal), Saint James's COI Church (Meath), Galway Arts Centre (Galway) and The Athenaeum (Enniscorthy).

Since then the project has been included in many public seminars and events where the songs and the research presented. The Arts Council of Ireland have awarded a grant for a CD of the songs to be produced and this is currently in production. Click here to download the programme from concert in The Athenaeum in Enniscorthy.

Public Talks

In addition to the production of new songs, Oral Historian Thérèse McIntyre presented a public talk at each of the six venues, while author Terry Moylan delivered a once-off presentation in National Library in May 2016. Thérèse McIntyre researched and presented a unique talk for each area focusing on local songs from the area prior to and following the Easter Rising. Each of these talks were recorded and are available to download from this site.


You can also follow the project updates on Facebook 


This project has received support from all of the partners below.

Without their support, this project would simply not have happened.

All images by Michael Fortune. Website compiled and designed by Lambert/Fortune.

Athenaeum photograph on Home Page and Background Page by Michael Duggan.

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