Edward Bunting

Eighteenth century Belfast organist and recorder of Irish traditional music

Born in Armagh, Edward Bunting arrived in Belfast around 1784 when he was appointed sub-organist in St Anne’s Church. He stayed in Belfast for the next 30 years, becoming an important figure in the burgeoning cultural life of the contemporary town. Bunting lodged with the McCracken family on High St while in Belfast.

‘Atty’ Bunting is known as the premier scribe of Irish traditional music, the first to put down on the page the tunes and words sung in Ireland during the previous centuries. He came to traditional music when appointed scribe to the Belfast Harper Festival of 1792. Bunting was inspired to tour Ireland taking down the tunes of such musical luminaries as Denis Hempson, the last of the blind wire harp players.

Edward Bunting moved to Dublin in 1819, but revisited Belfast on many occasions. Often accused of modulating and changing the tunes he transcribed, there is no doubt that he made a major contribution to the popularisation of Irish music throughout the world.

Edward Bunting died in 1843 and is buried in Dublin's Mount Jerome Cemetery.