Thomas Joseph Walsh (Wexford)

Thomas Joseph Walsh (20 November 1911 – 8 November 1988) was an Irish doctor, writer, and founder and director of the Wexford Opera Festival.[1]


Walsh was born in Wexford, Ireland, and graduated in medicine from University College Dublin in 1944.[1] During his years in Dublin he took singing lessons from Adelio Viani at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. In 1972, he completed a Ph.D. at Trinity College, Dublin, the thesis becoming the basis for his 1973 book on Opera in Dublin.[2]

He became chairman and artistic director of the Wexford Festival in 1951[3] and established its international recognition over 15 years while still working as an anaesthetist at Wexford County Hospital.[1][4] Known locally as "Doctor Tom" he "inspired great affection, admiration, and, given his great learning, even a measure of awe".[5]


Walsh wrote several books relating to opera, covering 18th century Dublin, opera in Monte Carlo and the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris:

  • Opera in Old Dublin, 1819–1838 (Wexford: The Free Press, 1952)
  • Opera in Dublin, 1705-1797: the Social Scene (Dublin: Allen Figgis, 1973)
  • Monte Carlo Opera, 1879–1909 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1975); ISBN 978-0-7171-0725-4
  • Second Empire Opera: The Théâtre Lyrique Paris 1851–1870 (London: John Calder & New York: Riverrun Press, 1981); ISBN 0-7145-3659-8
  • Opera in Dublin, 1798–1820: Frederick Jones and the Crow Street Theatre (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993); ISBN 0-19-816397-5


  1. ^ a b c Boydell, B.: "Walsh, T(homas) J(oseph)", in: New Grove Dictionary of Opera (London and New York: Macmillan, 1997).
  2. ^ Barra Boydell: "Walsh, Thomas J.", in: The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland, ed. Harry White & Barra Boydell (Dublin: UCD Press, 2013), p. 1042–3.
  3. ^ Wexford Festival Opera. 62nd Festival 23 October - 3 November 2013, p. 5.
  4. ^ Karina Daly: Tom Walsh's Opera. A History of the Wexford Festival, 1951–2004 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2004); ISBN 1-85182-878-8.
  5. ^ Obituary in Opera magazine, January 1989, p. 38.