NUI Galway Celebrates One of its Most Remarkable Graduates

Anne Byrne who graduated from NUI Galway in 1936, pictured here in the Quadrangle with her daughter Úna Byrne, who graduated here in 1976.
Oct 25 2016 Posted: 12:38 IST

NUI Galway’s oldest living alumna, Anne Byrne, née Gannon, is being honoured by her alma mater on Thursday, 3 November at 6pm with a public interview about her time spent at the University, her life in America and her music. Not only is Anne celebrating 80 years since her graduation in 1936, but she has also been recognised as the first private individual to make tape recordings of Irish traditional music in Ireland.

Her collection, which she first began in 1954, is now a unique archival treasure and one which she has donated to the Irish State where it is being digitised and preserved by the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin. During the celebrations pieces from the archive will be played in a fully restored format and one of Ireland’s most respected and loved musicians, Máirtín O’Connor, will also perform some of Anne’s favourite tracks live on the night.

Aisling Nolan, Alumni Relations Officer at NUI Galway, said: “Anne is not only remarkable for her position as our oldest alumna; but her wonderful life story and achievements are such that warrants celebration. Anne’s many vivid memories of her time at NUI Galway in the 1930’s will be fascinating for the wider alumni community. It has been a pleasure getting to know Anne over the past few years and we are delighted she is able to join us back in her alma mater for such a special occasion.”

Dr Méabh Ní Fhuartháin, Acting Co-Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies, will conduct the interview. Dr Ní Fhuartháin said: “Anne’s importance to Irish traditional music collection in the mid-twentieth century is only now being given due credit and it is a real honour to be part of the celebration of that cultural contribution. We will get to hear Anne tell her story, and also get to listen to some of the archive recordings of the music she collected. Her experience as the daughter of an emigrant to Ireland and as an emigrant herself, raises fascinating questions about received notions of the Irish emigrant experience.”

The event will take place with a pre-interview reception in Áras na Mac Léinn, NUI Galway, followed by the public interview and music in The Cube. The event, which will be co-hosted by the University’s Alumni Relations and the Centre for Irish Studies, is free and open to all alumni and friends of NUI Galway as well as the wider Galway community. RSVP to Aisling on 091 494310 or by email at


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