Skip to content

1901 Dr Annie Patterson


Dr Annie Patterson

Thomas Rankin Patterson, bakery owner, and Martha Macaulay Patterson (née Wilson), a distant relative of Lord Macaulay lived in No.2 Mount Street Upper circa 1901. Notable amongst their children was Dr Annie Wilson Patterson.

She was born in County Armagh, but her family appears to have moved to No2, Upper Mount Street, Dublin when she was a young child. She composed and taught music, and wrote books and articles about music, but her greatest achievement is probably the founding of the Feis Ceoil. Despite the fact that she was so influential and her work spanned so many facets of Irish music she remains mostly unknown today.

Dr Annie Patterson – organist, music educator, writer, composer, and arranger

She made her debut as a solo organist at the age of 15 and was the organist at several Dublin churches (1887–97). She acted as an examiner in music at the RUI (1892–5) and at TCD (1892–5). During the 1890s she became interested in the Irish language, taking classes and joining the Gaelic League. She encouraged the notion that the development of the language should be accompanied by a revival in Irish music. She published Six original Gaelic songs (1896) and was the prime mover behind the first Feis Ceoil, which met in Dublin, 18 May 1897. 

She was on the organising committee of the first Oireachtas, held in the Round Room of the Rotunda, Dublin, on the day following the Feis Ceoil. She conducted a choir which had been especially assembled to sing Gaelic songs for the occasion, and composed the music for ‘Go mairidh ár nGaedhilg slán’, an anthem for the Gaelic League, the words of which were written by Dermot Foley. Her commitment to fusing classical music with the Irish cultural revival is reflected in her composition of two operas, ‘The high-king’s daughter’ and ‘Oisín’.

‘Lights of Literature’, Irish Independent (3 May 1910).
Click to view larger image


Dr. Annie Wilson Patterson – founder of the Feis Ceoil

Through the influence of Annie W. Patterson (1869-1934) the Feis Ceoil Association was founded on 29 June 1897. Its aims were to promote the study of Irish music, to encourage the cultivation of music in Ireland, to hold an annual music festival and to collect and publish Irish traditional music.

Feis Ceoil owes its existence to the fact that, almost 120 years ago, a Mr. T. O’Neill wrote to the Evening Telegraph complaining of the neglect of Irish music and musicians. As result, a committee was set up by Dr. Annie Patterson to run one music festival in 1897.

The profile of Feis Ceoil has changed dramatically over the course of its existence. The first Feis Ceoil had 32 competitions, 12 of which were for composition, 6 for vocal ensemble and the rest for solo performance. This year’s Feis Ceoil – the 118th had 185 competitions, 7 for composition, 1 for Conducting and the rest for performances which include Choirs, Orchestras, Ensembles and Soloists. The festival goes from strength to strength and last year, we had performances from almost 5,000 young musicians, right across all categories of instruments, including voice.