Herbert Hughes

(16/05/1882 - 21/02/1937)

Hughes Road in Walkinstown is named for Herbert Hughes (1882–1937), a musician, critic, and folk song arranger, who was born in Belfast to Frederick Patrick Hughes and Mary Hughes. His upbringing in a musically inclined family influenced his early interest in traditional Irish music. Hughes demonstrated musical aptitude at an early age, becoming the organist at St. Peter’s parish church in Belfast at just 14 years old.

In 1903, Hughes played a pivotal role in founding the Irish Folk Song Society of London and served as a co-editor for its journal. Alongside his family, he contributed to the transcription and preservation of traditional Irish melodies, particularly those from Donegal and other regions. Despite his involvement, Hughes’s association with the society waned after 1905.

He embarked on a successful career in London as a music journalist, notably serving as the music critic for the Daily Telegraph from 1911 to 1932. His contributions to musical journalism extended beyond newspapers, as he also edited the Saturday Review during the early 1930s.

During World War I, Hughes served in the Artists’ Rifles and later worked in intelligence for General Allenby in the Middle East. Following the war, he ventured to the United States, where he married Suzanne McKernan and had two daughters.

Throughout his life, Hughes remained dedicated to collecting and arranging Irish traditional music. His arrangements, notably the four volumes of Irish Country Songs, published between 1909 and 1936, gained widespread popularity. Collaborating with figures like Padraic Colum, Hughes ensured the preservation and adaptation of traditional Irish songs for broader audiences.

Hughes’s arrangements, characterised by their impressionistic qualities, became staples in the drawing-room-ballad market, bolstered by the advocacy of performers like Harry Plunket Greene and John McCormack.

Person Photo
Connection with area: Musician, critic, and folksong arranger that Hughes Road Walkinstown are names after.