The Archive has four main aims:


To collect all the materials of Irish traditional music and to make a representative collection of the traditional music of other countries. It does this through the donation, copying and purchase of materials, and by a programme of audio and video recording in the field and in the Archive’s recording studio. This programme has recorded over 1,300 singers, instrumentalists and dancers since 1993, and in addition has recorded lectures, public recitals and concerts, and other traditional music events.


To preserve these materials indefinitely for present use and for future generations. It does this by such techniques as digitising, binding, security copying on paper and different digital formats, and by specialised archival and digital storage. The Archive has won a Gulbenkian Museums and Archives award for ‘Best Collections Care’.


To organise the information and materials held by the Archive. It does this by such library techniques as accessioning, classifying, stock-listing, cataloguing and indexing. Since its foundation the Archive has taken advantage of the development of information technology, and its holdings are organised on a networked computer system to a degree of detail not found elsewhere.


To make the materials and information held as widely available as possible to the general public, consistent with the preservation of material and within the limitations of copyright law and Archive resources. It does this by giving full direct reference access; by giving limited remote access by phone, fax, post and Internet; by extensive broadcasting and lecturing, exhibiting and publishing activities; and by cooperating with a wide range of other organisations engaged in performance, teaching, broadcasting, publishing, and archiving. This is in support of the living tradition and contemporary traditional artists and audiences. The Archive’s secondary aim, of collecting traditional music from other countries in a representative way, is to provide a national access point to those musics and to the world of ethnomusicology. It has a particular coverage of those traditions closest to the Irish: the Scottish, Manx, English, Welsh, and North American.