One of Ireland's oldest record companies, Claddagh Records, has signed a licensing agreement with Universal Music Ireland for global access to one of the most extensive collections of Irish music, song and poetry.

Claddagh was founded in 1959 by the late Garech Browne and his friend, Ivor Browne, to record and preserve Irish cultural heritage. Both were pupils of master piper Leo Rowsome whose King of the Pipers album became the first release on the Claddagh label in 1959.

Some of the most important Irish recordings of the 20th century were commissioned by Browne, who died in March 2018, and released on the Claddagh label. 

The Claddagh catalogue includes recordings by The Chieftains, Sean O' Riada, Seamus Heaney, Liam O'Flynn, Jack MacGowran, Patrick Kavanagh, Samuel Beckett, Tommy Potts, Seamus Ennis, Dolly McMahon, Thomas Kinsella and John Montague.

James Morriseey, Chairman, Claddagh Records said Garech Browne's lifelong wish was for Claddagh recordings to be accessible nationally and internationally to those interested in Ireland's cultural history. 

"This agreement with Universal Music Ireland is a most significant development as it signals a very exciting new chapter for Claddagh and for Ireland's cultural past," Mr Morrissey said.

Nick Younger, COO Universal Music Ireland, said it is an honour to begin this exciting partnership with Claddagh Records.

 "We also understand the enormous responsibility that comes with it, Claddagh isn't just a record label but is a home for musicians, poets and artists who have both historic and real cultural significance for Ireland.  In partnership with Claddagh Records, we want not only to reignite a famous catalogue but to pay homage to Garech and make Claddagh Records the home for new Irish artists," he said.

As part of the agreement Claddagh plans to re-issue recordings, some of  which date back to the 1950s, and to sign new young artists to the label.

Many of the Claddagh recordings are available on the Claddagh website.