Edward Bunting (1773–1843), the first systematic collector of Irish folksongs, was educated as an organ and piano player in Belfast. His life's work fell upon him at nineteen years old, when he was commissioned as a scribe to notate performances at a gathering of traditional harp players in Belfast in July 1792. He was so inspired by the music that, aided by some of the harpers, he embarked immediately upon travels around northwest Ireland to collect some of the old songs already close to disappearing. He published his first collection of Irish music four years later. In that volume and two later ones, he published almost 300 airs—some of them, according to tradition, dating as far back as the tenth century—and practically single-handedly rescued his country's ancient music from oblivion.
The present collection, the last of Bunting's three such gatherings, contains 151 Irish airs arranged for piano, with the Irish names of the airs, their authors, and (where known) their dates of composition. Hard to find elsewhere, this is an indispensable book not only for students or lovers of Irish music, but also for students of general music history.Reprint of the Hodges and Smith, Dublin, 1840 edition.