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Travel back through 50 years of Irish Record covers with new exhibition ‘Green Sleeves’

Running in the National Print Museum from May 5 until October 1, ‘Green Sleeves’ takes a trip back in time, through over 50 years of Irish record covers.

The exhibition dates from the late 1950s to the present day, covering a wide range of musical and non-musical genres, it charts the increase in popularity of the humble record, the period of prosperity, the decline of the industry and modern resurgence in demand for vinyl.

The album cover developed first as a means of protecting and promoting the various record formats, whether 7 inch single, EP or LP. As the nature of albums changed so too did the album covers.

By the 1960s there were over 150 printers in Dublin alone, supported by a workforce of thousands. Apart from these, a smaller number of companies were involved in printing record sleeves, both of Irish and international musicians.

Most of these companies were based in Dublin or on the Irish eastern seaboard. The market for record sleeves started to grow. The 1980s brought about change in the printing industry, multinational computing corporations based in Ireland contracted local companies to produce their computer manuals.

So great was the demand that large parts of the printing industry were occupied with producing supply of manuals, leading to a reduced capacity for record sleeves printing, at a time when the record format itself was under threat from another direction.

By the mid 1980s sales of tape cassettes rivaled those of vinyl records. Then a newer format, the CD, arrived towards the end of the 1980s, marking another shift. The demand for vinyl records and album covers declined swiftly. Since then almost all album covers for Irish groups have been printed outside of Ireland.

The exhibition looks at tracking this saga, by selecting a number of significant sleeves from over the decades.

A fascinating piece of cultural history from our small island; ‘Green Sleeves’ is curated by Dr Ciarán Swan and Niall McCormack.

The exhibition runs from 5 May until 1 October 2017 and there are curated tours on the following dates:

  • Saturday 13 May, 14.30
  • Saturday 27 May, 14.30
  • Saturday 10 June, 14.30
  • Saturday 24 June, 14.30

Admission is free, however booking is essential, as places are limited.

Contact to reserve a place on one of the above tour dates. For more info, click here.



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