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Irish Arts Festivals Archive: Introduction


Irish Arts Festivals Archive logo

The Irish Arts Festivals Archive captures and preserves the rich and diverse landscape of festivals held across Ireland.

This central repository for festival archives will become a resource of national scope and significance, ensuring current and future generations can appreciate and better understand the ecology of festivals across Ireland.

The Irish Arts Festivals Archive will be held in UCD Archives, and will be part of the UCD Heritage Collection.

What is in a festival archive?

Archives may be made up of a mix of paper and digital material, and hold: 

  • programmes and posters published by the organisation each year; 
  • film footage and photographs taken at festival events; 
  • business plans, strategic plans and award applications; 
  • minutes of board meetings (signed); 
  • correspondence from and to the festival; and press coverage. 

Having your festival represented in the archive

The Irish Arts Festivals Archive, which is an ongoing initiative of UCD Library, includes materials from current and past arts festivals in Ireland. We are happy to talk to festival organisers based anywhere on the island of Ireland about the possibility of adding their archives to this central repository.

Many festival archives are held in unsuitable conditions - in multiple locations or in temporary storage or domestic settings. These archives often contain fragile materials that are at extreme risk of being damaged or lost over time. 

To have your festival archive preserved and included in the Irish Arts Festivals Archive contact,

The UCD Cultural Heritage Collection

UCD holds a rich variety of heritage collections made up of unique materials spanning four centuries of Irish history and culture, encompassing such diverse subjects as literature, Gaelic language and folklore, music, genealogy and political history.

The majority of archival collections are held in UCD Archives. Literary archives are held in UCD Special Collections.

Can a festival exist in a time of lockdown?

Many Irish Arts festivals have been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.  We are working with festival makers to capture a record of the terrible loss being suffered by artists and communities across the country. This collection will reveal the creative agility with which festival makers, working under huge constraints, are responding to the crisis, and in so doing fulfilling their commitment to the artists and public they serve. 

This sub collection will include correspondence from festival directors, printed, designed but unprinted and draft programmes of festivals that have been cancelled, postponed or transformed into online experiences. 
See the recent Irish Times article 16th May 2020.

Photograph by Bryan O'Brien The Irish Times

If you would like your 2020 Festival to be represented in this new COVID-19 collection, including the impact on planning, the artists, the community, etc., please contact Dr David Teevan at

Just arrived

Festival handover event

Peadar Ó Fionnáin, Noirin Fanning, Rachel Fanning, and Mossy Ó Fionnáin brought the Féile na Bealtaine archive to UCD in December, 2019. This very successful Dingle based festival was founded in 1993 by their father / grandfather, Dr Micheál Fanning.  

Why bring festival archives together?

Creating a central repository for festival archives will ensure they are preserved and made accessible to the public.

These arts festivals are key platforms for cultural expression and creative output and contributors to both the financial prosperity and identity of communities.

This collection will provide researchers from multiple disciplines, including art history, cultural studies, history or geography, with a single destination where they can have access to the extraordinarily rich world of late 20th century and early 21st century Irish arts festivals.


Launched in 2020, the Irish Arts Festivals Archive is created and managed by UCD Archives and UCD Library.

David Teevan, Arts Consultant and Researcher, has been pivotal to developing the vision of this archive which will help strengthen direct links between teaching and research, and foster popular interest in festival organisation and arts initiatives.

UCD Library has worked in partnership with the UCD School of English, Drama and Film, and collaborated with the Irish Arts Council to develop this collection.

We are grateful for the opportunity to work with festival organisers, County Councils, and community and voluntary organisations.

We look forward to developing new partnerships as part of this initiative.

It all started with the Clifden Arts Festival Archive

In 2017 the substantial paper and digital archive of the Clifden Arts Festival was entrusted to University College Dublin, and is held under the care of UCD Library. This archive charts the history of the Clifden Community Arts Festival over the last 42 years.

Preserving Digital Archives - UCD Digital Library

UCD Library provides national leadership in capturing and preserving digital expressions of our culture and our heritage.

The UCD Digital Library holds the “Data Seal of Approval”, an accreditation, recognised by the European Commission, which ensures that a sustainable infrastructure is provided for these cultural heritage collections. The expertise of Library staff helps to ensure that these materials are available for teaching and research both at home and abroad, increasing public engagement and creating new opportunities for artists.