The Ward Irish Music Archives, part of Irish Festivals Inc., is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization and is dedicated to the preservation of Irish and Irish-American music in all its forms. It is a year-round educational arm of CelticMKE, home of Milwaukee Irish Fest.
Established in 1992 and named after John J. Ward, father of Irish Fest's founder Ed Ward, the Ward Irish Music Archives houses one of the largest public collection of Irish music in America. The entire collection ranges from the early 19th century to modern singers and bands including Bing Crosby and U2. The archives consists of more than 50,000 pieces, including Irish recordings; paper ephemera such as postcards, sheet music and song books; instruments,; photos; concert memorabilia; rare 78s, 45s and LPs; and even music recorded on wax cylinders!
All music items donated to the Archives are catalogued and entered into a comprehensive computer database. The collection will be open to the general public, but items will not be removed from the archives.