Reference Code: IE 2135 N29

Title: The Patricia Mulholland Papers

Dates of Creation: 1929-c. 1990s (predominantly 1951-1979)

Level of Description: Fonds

Extent and Medium: 2 boxes (81 files)



Name of Creator(s): Graham, Thomas and MacCafferty, Joyce Ann.

Biographical History: Thomas Graham and Joyce Ann MacCafferty were former pupils and dancers of the Belfast-born Patricia Mulholland (1915-1992).  Mulholland was the founder of the Irish Ballet School in Belfast and of the Irish Ballet Company, which made its debut in 1951 during the Festival of Britain in the Empire Theatre, Belfast.  In 1953, at the request of CEMA, Mulholland devised and produced the first Irish folk ballet, Cuchulain.  A further group of ballets was sponsored by CEMA, including The PiperThe Dream of Angus Óg, and Follow Me Down to Carlow.  Other works in her extensive choreography, strongly influenced by Irish legends and folklore, include The Mother of OisínThe Black Roguethe Oul’ Lammas Fair in 1900The Children of LírPhil the Fluter’s Ball, and The Hound of Culann. Mulholland’s choreographies were not ballet in the classical sense but a form of folk ballet – Irish mythology interpreted by Irish dancers to Irish music and song.  Patricia Mulholland is regarded as one of the most influential figures of twentieth-century Irish traditional dancing and the founder of Festival Dance, a specialised form of Irish dancing which focuses on the individuality of each dancer’s style, thus breaking away from the more rigid and formulaic ‘Feis’ style.

Immediate Source of Acquisition: Files N29/1/1-9 were donated by Thomas Graham and the remainder by Joyce Ann MacCafferty to the National Dance Archive of Ireland on 8 September 2011.




Scope and Content: Mainly photocopies or photographic copies of programmes, press cuttings, photographs, and stage sets donated by Thomas Graham and Joyce Ann MacCafferty to illustrate Patricia Mulholland’s career as a dancer and choreographer and the activities of her Irish Ballet Company.

Appraisal, Destruction and Scheduling Information: All records have been retained.

Accruals: No accruals are expected.

System of Arrangement: The material has been divided into two series according to the donor.  Within Series 1, items have been arranged chronologically by date.  Within Series 2, items have been arranged thematically by their form (e.g. programmes) and thereunder chronologically by date.  It should be noted that as accurate dating of photographs was not possible, they have been listed according to the year of the first performance of the dance work to which they relate.




Conditions Governing Access: Unrestricted access to all items.

Conditions Governing Reproduction: Standard copyright regulations apply to all items.  For photocopying or reproducing material, please consult with the staff.

Language/ Scripts of Material: Predominantly English.  Items 2/1/1 and 2/1/9 are in Irish.  Item 2/6/1 is in French.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements: Paper documents and photographs in good condition.

Finding Aids: A hard copy of the descriptive catalogue is available at the Special Collections and Archives Department, Glucksman Library, University of Limerick.




Existence and Location of Originals: The photographs and stage sets in Sections 2/3 and 2/4 are copies of originals from the private collections of the following individuals: Margot Brown (2/3/7), Kevin Campbell (2/3/132/3/15), Brendan Carson (2/3/22/3/42/3/82/3/162/3/24-25), Valerie Hamill (2/3/142/3/17), Stella Logan (2/3/6), Joyce Ann MacCafferty (2/3/52/3/11-122/3/21-22), Maeve McGahon (2/3/1), and Audrey Clark Walker (2/3/3).  Colour stills 2/3/9-10 and 2/3/18 are from a video in the possession of Maire Bunting.  Stage sets 2/4/1-7 are in the possession of Sheelagh McRandall.  Images 2/3/19-20 and 2/3/23, originally in the possession of Brian Bunting, are now in the Brian Bunting Papers as N78/2/4/8-9 and N78/2/5/1.

Related Units of Description: Patricia Mulholland’s personal papers are held by her nieces and nephews, primarily by Stella Logan, Maeve MacGahan, and Patricia O’Neill.  For additional material relating to Patricia Mulholland held in the National Dance Archive of Ireland, see N65 (Norman Maen Papers) and N78 (Brian Bunting Papers).

Publication Note: The material in Series 2 was used by Joyce Ann MacCafferty for her biography of Patricia Mulholland, The Deep Green Pool (Derry: Guildhall Press, 2007).  A copy of this book is available at the Glucksman Library, University of Limerick.




Archivist’s Note: Papers arranged and described by Anna-Maria Hajba.

Rules or Conventions: This description follows guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd edition, 2000, Irish Guidelines for Archival Description, 2009, National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997, and EAP Guidance on Data Protection for Archive Services, 2018.

Date of Description: August 2012.  Revised June 2020.


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