Sam Henry Collection

Sam Henry (1870-1952) was born in Coleraine. He worked as an Excise Officer. Henry was a recognised authority on the folklore of Northern Ireland. He is best known for his collection of ballads and songs in "Songs of the people". These were originally published in the 'Northern Constitution' newspaper between 1923 and 1939. The collection, with alphabetical index and commentary by Sean O'Boyle, held at Belfast Central Library was assembled and edited by Sam Henry. The eight hundred and fifty songs in two volumes are complete with melodies and were written in a letter notation known as 'tonic sol fa', whose symbols, unlike standard staff notation, are more easily replicated. The ballads and songs in "Songs of the people" were collected within twenty miles of Coleraine and reflect the history of the region. A large number are Irish songs of English or Scottish origin brought to North Ulster by the Jacobean settlements. Sam Henry of Sandelford, Coleraine was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and a leading authority on Irish folklore, natural history and folk music.


The importance of this collection cannot be over estimated, it is by far the largest and most comprehensive single collection of folk-songs from Ulster between the wars.

Physical characteristics

The Sam Henry Collection consists of 4 bound volumes.

Description or Catalogue

Alphabetical index available


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Associated Collection
Added by Libraries NI | Last updated on: 24 May 2018