The Folk Music Society of Ireland was set up in 1971 as a voluntary society by a committee consisting of Dr Seóirse Bodley (chairman), Tom Munnelly (treasurer), Aoileann Ní Éigeartaigh (secretary) and committee members including Breandán Breathnach, Alf MacLochlainn, Máire Áine Ní Dhonncha, Seán Ó Baoill, Proinsias Ó Conluain, Dr Hugh Shields and Caitlín Uí Éigeartaigh. Its aim was ‘to encourage an informed interest in traditional music, to preserve this music and to sustain its traditions, and to promote the study of traditional music’. Its founders felt that the then recent revival of traditional music performance had not been accompanied by an equivalent growth in traditional music study and analysis.
The Society was the Irish national committee of International Folk Music Council since 1973. The longest-serving secretary of FMSI was Nicholas Carolan (1977–1992). Over thirty years FMSI organized an annual series of free lectures and recitals, and a number of seminars, funded from the 1980s by the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaion (see Activities). It also published a journal, newsletter, books and cassettes (see Publications for details). However, by the year 2003 the traditional music scene in Ireland had undergone extraordinary changes on all fronts – academic research, university degree courses, summer schools and festivals – and there had been an enormous increase in the publishing of traditional music. The committee considered then that its aims had largely been accomplished, and closed down most of the society’s activities (see the chairman’s letter to members). But it still continues in its publishing capacity.