As well as commercial recordings, the collection contains field recordings made in Ireland, Britain and the US, featuring artists such as Paddy Fahy, Andy McGann and Seán Maguire. Currently, there are over 300 hours of recordings already digitised from the collection, with much more on reel-to-reel and audio-cassette tape.
The collection also contains over 1,300 paper items, including photographs, letters and promotional material. The library will house the collection under the official title The Joe Burke Archive Collection.
Joe Burke, accompanied by his wife Anne Conroy, were guests of honour at a special celebration on campus to mark the occasion. In his opening address at the event, Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, described Joe as, "The maestro of Kilnadeema, a man whose music brings people to their senses".
Professor Ó Tuathaigh continued, "Joe Burke is one of a generation of musicians who presided over dramatic changes in traditional Irish music as it shifted from the domestic to the public domain, in Ireland and overseas. In this regard, Joe Burke's archive is of critical importance for future research into the transformation that has taken place in the performance and reception of Irish traditional music. The University is demonstrating its commitment to act as a regional repository for material of national and international significance."
The Centre for Irish Studies, in conjunction with the James Hardiman Library, has been facilitating the acquisition of this important archive collection since 2004. The collection will be available to scholars worldwide through NUI Galway.