In 1848 a number of musical enthusiasts in Dublin formed an association to found an Academy to “provide systematic instruction in instrumental music.”Among them were John Stanford, father of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, RM Levey (the leading Dublin violinist of the time), the Rev Charles Graves and Joseph Robinson.


The Academy held its first classes in the Ancient Concert Rooms in Pearse Street before moving to No 18 St Stephen’s Green. In 1871 the Academy moved to its present home at 36 Westland Row, acquiring the two neighboring houses of Nos 37 and 38 in 1911.


Although it became “Royal” in 1872, it did not receive its present constitution until 1889 when, as the beneficiary of Elizabeth Strean Coulson, it received over £17,000. Together with another significant bequest from J Ormsby Vandeleur, this enabled an Order in Council to be effected under the Educational Endowments (Ireland) Act of 1885, which bestowed stability and structure on the institution.


More recently a major change in the Academy’s constitution was the decision in the 1980s to appoint a Director. This positive step made it possible to restructure the administration of the Academy and to introduce a series of management strategies which have ensured the Academy’s unmistakable vibrancy and future health.
In 1998, as part of the celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the Academy’s foundation, the definitive history of the RIAM appeared. This extensively researched volume To talent alone: the Royal Irish Academy of Music, 1848 – 1998 was edited by Charles Acton and Richard Pine.

To order a copy of  To talent alone (€20 + €5 P&P) please send an email to library@riam.ie or contact us at 01-6325318.


For more on the history of the Academy, please view The Academy Remembers, an online exhibition space which brings the rich history of the institution into the present by highlighting materials from the historic collections of the library and archives of the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

Click on the link below for more information about the history and architecture of 36 Westland Row, home of the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

36 Westland Row