The evolution of Limerick City’s fife and drum band tradition 1840 to 1935
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This thesis examines the evolution and activity of fife and drum bands in Limerick city between 1840 and 1935. The topic was chosen because of the author’s involvement in St Mary’s Fife and Drum Band since 1976 and because of the cultural and social contribution the bands have made to the life of Limerick city, a subject with is virtually unexplored up to now. The stages of the development of the bands are discussed over a period of 95 years, from their foundation in the temperance movement of the 1840s, the period of O’Connell, to Parnell and on to the formation of the Free State. The changes in instrumentation, uniforms, accommodation and organisational ability is discussed, and how this has developed over the decades. Equally important is the growing political involvement of the bands, especially from the second half of the nineteenth century until they abandoned politics in 1935. The sources used are mainly newspapers, local and national, as the only band records are those of St Mary’s Band, which are very valuable in this thesis as they survive from 1922. Oral interviews, while pertaining mostly to the period after 1935, provide some valuable evidence, given as it is by people who have long experience of the fife and drum tradition in Limerick. The pride and passion involved in playing and supporting these bands, especially in discussion of competition and of past members is very evident in both the oral and documentary sources, and this alone is justification for the study.
KeywordsFife and drum bands
Limerick fife and drum bands