Bunting, Edward, (1773-1843)

Biography/History

Edward Bunting (1773-1843) is remembered as the foremost collector of Irish folk music of his age. A capable musician in his own right (he had, by the age of 11, begun to deputise as organist at St. Anne's Cathedral, Belfast), he was responsible for recording, for the first time, the repertoire of the traditional Irish harpist. Engaged on this service by the organisers of the Belfast Harper's Festival of 1792, he spent the next number of years touring the length and breadth of Ireland talking to the principal harpists of his generation, most notably Arthur O'Neill of Co Tyrone and Denis Hempson of Magilligan, Co. Derry, transcribing their sounds and songs for posterity. His seminal collection of Irish airs was then published in 1796 with subsequent revisions appearing in 1802 and 1840. Married in Belfast in 1819, Bunting shortly moved with his family to take up his responsibilities as organist of St. George's Church, Dublin. He died in that city on 21st Dec 1843 and is buried at the Cemetery of Mount Jerome. Publications: A general collection of the ancient Irish music (1st edition, 1796; 2nd ed., 1809, 3rd ed., 1840).