The Handed Down Sliabh Luachra Archive.
Photo and Biographies Section.
Funded with the help of the Kerry County Library Cultural Archive Award 2017 and 2018 Creative Ireland and Kerry County Council Community Funding Grant 2018 , The Project Traditional Arts Award 2020 from the Arts Council of Ireland .
We are preparing a list, with brief biographies, of musicians,and other significant figures in Sliabh Luachra. The aim of this section is to help younger musicians interested in Sliabh Luachra and allow them a window into the past to those who played a part in the survival of the music of Sliabh Luachra . It is never going to be definite or complete as new information and materials donated here constantly alter a story or myth and this adds to the mystery of Sliabh Luachra .We have appealed publicly since 2013 for photos , Bios , stories and what you have here is a collection of what we received .Our thanks to all who donated photos and to Paul de Grae , John Reidy , Raymond O Sullivan, Timmy Connors ,Joe Thoma , P.J Teahan for their written work on this page. Paul de Grae wishes to thank Anthony Buffery for sharing his remarkable store of research into Sliabh Luachra music. We acknowledge all sources of photos on this page and recommend that anyone using them have the courtesy and feel obliged to do likewise.
All material is the work of the group and there for the benefit of the Sliabh Luachra music lovers and community. If reproduced, you are required to credit the source page and the donor of the photo and respect the work that has gone into this Archive .
P.J. Teahan, founder.
Johnny Mickey Barry
Pete Bradley. Tin whistle and fiddle player from Knocknaboul Cross, Ballydesmond. Pupil of Tom Billy Murphy. Played often in the Monday night sessions in Scully’s, Newmarket, with Timmy O’Connor and others.
Denis Brooks (Piper). Born Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., 1938. Started playing the Uilleann Pipes in 1952. Self taught but influenced by ‘78’ recordings of Leo Rowsome. Moved to Newmarket in 1975 where he became part of the local musical community.
John Brosnan(“Johnny the Tailor”). Scartaglin. Founded O’Rahilly Céili Band in late 1940s, including Willie Reidy (accordion), Jerry McCarthy (fiddle), Timmy Spillane, Dan Cronin (tin whistle), Mary (Maida) McQuinn (singer) and the Tailor on drums. In 1950s the band repertoire and personnel changed, becoming The Radiant Showband.
John Brosnan (b.1958). Accordion player and technician, originally from Lyreacrompane in North Kerry, long resident in Kilcummin. Very accomplished player, equally at home in B/C or C#/D, can adapt to whatever style is required; has vast repertoire, but will happily play well-known tunes to accommodate visiting musicians. Had long-running session in the Arbutus in Killarney, where the other musicians often included Paddy Cronin and Jimmy Doyle. Highly regarded, nationally as well as locally, for his business in tuning, repairing and dealing in accordions. Has composed at least one tune, “John Brosnan’s Reel”, which has been recorded several times, including on his own album “The Cook in the Kitchen” (1996); the album features John on a variety of accordions, joined by various Kerry musicians.
Broadcaster , Collector and Piper
Peter was born in Dublin in 1953 and commenced playing traditional music at the age of 6. He received tuition in the playing of the uilleann pipes from three of the great players of modern times; Séamus Ennis, Leo Rowsome and Willie Clancy and on reaching his ‘teens was already acknowledged as a leading player of that instrument. In his youth he visited Lisheen, Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry staying in the home of Denis Murphy the famous Sliabh Luachra fiddle player who was a family friend and also remembers hearing Pádraig O Keeffe in Lyons of Scartaglin . These memories shaped his musical path and he produced some groundbreaking programmes on O Keeffe and later Denis Murphy which were released as CDs by RTÉ . His contribution to Sliabh Luachra has been immense and instrumental in the setting up of the annual Patrick O Keeffe Festival in Castleisland. He is a frequent visitor to Scartaglin and presenter at the Handed Down Sliabh Luachra Lecture Series.
Tim Browne. (Fiddle, Bazouki, Mandolin). Born in Greenana, Kanturk, 1958. Played tin whistle in school and took up Bazouki and mandolin when he went to sea as a radio operator in the late 70s. Later took up the fiddle and played at Scully;s session. Early mentor Raymond O’Sullivan. Recorded with Dan Herlihy, Monks of the Screw and his own C.D, ;Crossing the Waves. Also played with Cosamar.
Mike Buckley(c.1920-c.1945). Fiddler from Cnoc na Gaoithe, pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe. Played regularly for Sunday night dances in Lacka hall along with O’Keeffe, Denis Murphy and John Clifford. Regarded as a gifted player, he died young from TB. Two tunes named for him in the Johnny O’Leary book.
Danny Buckley (1891-1918). From Ballydesmond, generally credited with composing the song “Sweet Kingwilliamstown”, the old name for Ballydesmond (though others attribute it to the Rathmore poet Joe Dinneen, 1870-1928). He survived the sinking of the Titanic, but was killed on the last day of World War I, the last recorded soldier of the American army to die in action in France.
Denis Buckley. Fiddler from Caherbarna, near Rathmore. Johnny O’Leary learned tunes from him.
Thade Janey Buckley. Accordion player from Caherbarna, near Rathmore. Johnny O’Leary learned tunes from him.
Billy Clifford (b.1943). Flute, whistle and fiddle player, London-born, Tipperary-resident, but Lisheen by nature. Son of John and Julia Clifford. Learned his first tune on whistle from grandmother, Mainie Murphy, in Lisheen. In London, played flute and recorded with John & Julia as The Star of Munster trio. Moved to Tipperary in 1970, soon after formed a trio with Catherine Ryan (drums – they later married) and Matt Hayes (accordion); Billy’s 1977 Topic album was with this trio. Won All-Ireland on flute in Listowel in 1970. Also played frequently with Julia when she was in Lisheen; recorded “Ceol as Sliabh Luachra” (1982) with her. Other recordings include solo album “Echoes of Sliabh Luachra” (2010) and “Now She’s Purring” (2018) with Gerry Harrington. Flute is comparatively rare in Sliabh Luachra, but Billy is a perfect embodiment of the local tradition, and has a great store of tunes and knowledge.
John Clifford(1916-1981). Accordion player from Lisheen, neighbour of the musical Murphys. From a musical family himself: father (John) was a dancer and also played jew’s harp, brother Timmy played harmonica, whistle and accordion, sister Eileen was a dancer and singer. John played tin whistle in Bill Murphy’s Lisheen fife & drum band, before learning accordion, initially from Timmy, then from Pádraig O’Keeffe. Formed musical partnership with his friend and neighbour Denis Murphy. Often played with Denis, Pádraig O’Keeffe, Mike Buckley and others in Thady Willie O’Connor’s dance hall, before emigration to London in 1938, where he met and later married Denis’s sister, Julia Murphy. Regarded by Johnny O’Leary and others as an outstanding performer on the 2-row button accordion in the classic Sliabh Luachra press-&-draw style, but he soon found it necessary to switch to piano accordion, which better suited the repertoire and keys demanded in the London dance hall scene where he and Julia were stalwarts for a considerable time. Returned to Ireland in 1953 and formed Star of Munster Ceili Band with Julia, their son Billy and the Moloney family of Newcastle West; but moved back to London in 1958. Recordings include “The Star of Munster Trio” (1976) with Julia and Billy, and “The Humours of Lisheen” (1976) with Julia.
Julia Clifford, née Murphy (1914-1997). Fiddler from Lisheen, Gneeveguilla. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe. Along with her brother Denis, widely regarded as one of the greatest Irish traditional musicians. Emigrated to London in 1935, where she later married and played music with John Clifford. Visited home frequently, and settled in Newcastle West for several years in the 1950s, before returning to London, and later Norfolk. Played in ceili bands with husband John and son Billy. Recordings include “Kerry Fiddles” (1976) with brother Denis and Pádraig O’Keeffe; “The Star Above the Garter” (1968) with Denis; “The Humours of Lisheen” (1976) with John; “The Star of Munster Trio” (1976) with John and Billy; and “Ceol as Sliabh Luachra” (1982) with Billy.
John Coakley is from near Bantry Co Cork. He studied music under Sean O’ Riada at University College Cork and spent some time afterwards collecting fiddle and accordion music of the Sliabh Luachra area on the Cork/Kerry border, which had a deep influence on his style of playing. Well known as collector of music from Julia Clifford and Maurice O Keeffe and a great source for info on the same . Has played internationally and nationally with many groups and can be heard at all good festival events . Regular visitor and supporter of Sliabh Luachra events.
A fiddle player and pupil of Pádraig O Keeffe’s. Ger played for many years with Willie O’Connell and we’re regulars on the Sliabh Luachra session scene. From a musical family who have donated a large amount of O Keeffe manuscripts to the ITMA Archive . Ger also contributed to RTÉ programmes by Pat Feely and Peter Browne where he told of O Keeffe’s abilities and humour.
Aidan is a leading fiddle player of the current wave of great Irish Traditional music He has inherited his love of Sliabh Luachra music from his mother Eileen who hails from Gneeveguilla and Aidan has closely studied both Paddy Cronin and Denis Murphy and is acknowledged as an expert on both styles now. A frequent and welcome visitor to Scartaglin where he has contributed greatly both to World Fiddle Day Celebrations and also to the Handed Down Lecture Series. He has a few CDs on release and is currently based in Spain where he works.
Joe Conway. Accordion player from Knocknagullane, on the Cork side of Rathmore. He played a 2-reed two-row accordion, one of three local small farmers who all played small boxes, the others being Jack Dennehy and Johnny Sullivan. In the latter 1920s, Joe Conway played with Jerome O’Sullivan at Hickey’s dance hall in Gneeveguilla.
Matt Cranitch (b.1948). Fiddler and music teacher from Cork. From an Irish-speaking and musical family, he was immersed in the music from an early age. Has played and recorded with many other musicians and groups, including Na Filí, Any Old Time, Sliabh Notes, and most recently with Jackie Daly; uniquely, he recorded an album of slow airs, “Éistigh Seal” (1984). Has researched deeply into Sliabh Luachra music, and has taught, lectured and written widely on the subject, and on fiddle music in general; his “The Irish Fiddle Book” (1st ed. 1988, 4th ed. 2001) is regarded as definitive; also published “Irish Fiddle Tunes” (2013). Received UCC Hall of Fame award in 2003 for his contributions to Irish traditional music. Frequent contributor and supporter of the “Handed Down” series.
Seamus Creagh (1946-2009). Fiddler and singer from Killucan, Westmeath, later resident in County Cork. Active in the “ballad boom” in Dublin in the 1960s, including a spell as guitarist in a ballad group. Focused on traditional music after moving to Cork in 1968. Teamed up with Jackie Daly in 1973; their self-titled duo recording (1977) was spread appreciation of Sliabh Luachra music. Influenced by singers of Cúil Aodha area, he became an outstanding interpreter of traditional song, a trait which carried over into his slow air playing. Popular and respected wherever his wanderings took him, including Newfoundland, where Féile Seamus Creagh is annual event since 2010. Other recordings: “Came the Dawn” (1993); “Seamus Creagh & Aidan Coffey” (1999); “It’s No Secret” (2001) with Con Ó Drisceoil, Hammy Hamilton and Pat Aherne; “Island to Island” (2003) with musicians from Ireland and Newfoundland; and tutor CD for learners, “Tunes for Practice” (2009).
Christy Cronin (b.1943). Singer, from Maughantourig, Gneeveguilla. Learned songs from his father, Pat Thady Mick Cronin, an excellent singer. Also inspired by local church choir and by singers at Knocknagree fair. Highly regarded as an interpreter of songs, with a talent for tasteful ornamentation, he has a vast repertoire of songs, in Irish and English, many very local. Christy has won eight Kerry county championship medals for singing.
Con Cronin (Con Thadhgo). Concertina player, source of three tunes in the Johnny O’Leary collection. Not to be confused with the fiddler of the same name.
Con Cronin and Denis Cronin. Fiddler brothers from Knockscovane, Meelin, in north Cork. Denis founded the Duhallow Orchestra in 1929, a grandly titled six piece céilí band.
Maureen Cronin (née O’Carroll) (b.1917). Fiddle, accordion and organ player, music teacher, schoolteacher and author, originally from Rockchapel, now resident in Ennis. Made history by defying the 1933 ban on women continuing to teach school after marriage. After the ban was lifted in 1958, she taught in Rockchapel until her retirement. Has published eight books of poetry, donating the proceeds to charity.
Johnny Cronin(1934-1991). Fiddler from Reaboy, Gneeveguilla. Learned indirectly from Pádraig O’Keeffe, listening to his brother Paddy’s lessons from the master. Emigrated to Boston in 1956, moving later to Chicago before finally settling in New York. As with Paddy in Boston, he found little interest in Sliabh Luachra music in his new environment, and perforce changed to a more mainstream Sligo style, especially under the influence of Andy McGann, with whom he played frequently (Denis Murphy also admired McGann’s fiddling). Recorded album “Cronin & Burke” (1977) with Joe “Banjo” Burke, and also features on “The Boston College Irish Fiddle Festival – My Love Is in America” album (1990), with brother Paddy and other fiddlers.
John Cronin(1955-2008). Accordion player from Aghadoe, Killarney. Born into musical family: father played fiddle, and mother’s family (Twomeys from Kilgarvan) were also musicians. Emigrated to New York in 1983, where he played frequently with his fiddler namesake Johnny Cronin, Andy McGann, Jack Coen, Joe “Banjo” Burke and others. Like Denis Murphy and Paddy Cronin before him, he learned to fit into the dominant Sligo style in the US without neglecting his Sliabh Luahra roots. Married Aileen O’Connell, daughter of Dan O’Connell of Knocknagree, central figure in the revival of set dancing. Returned to Killarney in 1996 and was regular performer in sessions and festivals, while also continuing to visit America.
Mick Cronin. Flute and tin whistle player from Reaboy, Gneeveguilla; brother of Paddy and Johnny. Unlike his brothers, Mick did not emigrate, and Alan Ward wrote in 1976 that he “still plays in a fine old country style which owes little to modern recorded music and is fast disappearing.”
Paddy Cronin(1925-2014). Fiddle and flute player from Reaboy, Gneeveguilla. Learned music initially from his mother, Hannie (Nagle), who played concertina and sang, and also from Pádraig O’Keeffe. Brothers Johnny (fiddle) and Mick (whistle) also played. Shortly before Paddy’s emigration to Boston in 1949, he was recorded for Raidiό Éireann by Seamus Ennis, playing in wonderful Sliabh Luachra style. During his 40 or so years in America, finding little welcome for polkas and slides, Paddy adopted and became highly proficient in a more mainstream Sligo style of fiddling; like Denis Murphy and other Sliabh Luachra musicians, he was genuinely interested in that style anyway. When Paddy returned to Kerry in the 1990s, he soon took up the Sliabh Luachra repertoire again, and was a frequent performer at sessions and concerts in the area, influencing a younger generation of musicians such as Con Moynihan and others. Awarded Gradam Ceoil by TG4 in 2007. Recordings include eight 78rpm records and one EP for the Copley label in Boston in the 1950s; the LPs “Music in the Glen” and “The House in the Glen” in the early 1970s; “Rakish Paddy” (1975), and “Kerry’s Own Paddy Cronin” (1977). Paddy performed frequently on radio and TV, and many of these performances can be found on YouTube.
Mick Culloty (b.1967). Accordion/Melodeon player and composer from Currow. Learned in the traditional manner (by ear) from Johnny O’Leary, Dan Jeremiah O’Connor, Ned O’Connor and other musicians, and has developed his own distinctive and empathetic style, much in demand for sessions. Has a great store of rare tunes, with valuable knowledge of where they came from. Also has for years performed an unsung but vital role in driving older car-less musicians to sessions and festivals. Founder member of the “Handed Down”/World Fiddle Day Scartaglin team, alongside P J Teahan.
Jackie Daly (b.1945). Accordion, concertina and melodeon player, and composer, from Kanturk. Mother was a singer, father played melodeon. At an early age played for Knocknacolan platform dances, where he learned much from Jim O’Keeffe (pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe) and other musicians. Won All-Ireland on accordion, 1974. Self-titled album with Seamus Creagh (1977) was highly influential in spreading appreciation of Sliabh Luachra music and the “press-&-draw” C#/D accordion method. Played and recorded with, among others, De Danann, Buttons & Bows, Arcady, Patrick Street, Kevin Burke, and most recently with Matt Cranitch; also has two solo albums. Awards include “Ceoltόir na Bliana” (Musician of the Year) in the 2005 TG4 Gradam Ceoil awards, and Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival in Castleisland.
Matt Dálaigh. Fiddle player from Scartaglin. Pádraig O’Keeffe got music from him, including a slide that is named for him in the Johnny O’Leary book. Not to be confused with Muiris Ó Dálaigh of Dún Chaoin, who also has tune attributions.
Paul de Grae (b.1953). Guitarist from Dun Laoghaire, in Kerry since 1981. Introduced to the Kerry traditional music scene by his wife, fiddler and singer Deirdre Sullivan. Recorded with Jackie Daly and Matt Cranitch, The Smoky Chimney, Aoife Ní Chaoimh & Paudie O’Connor, Eoin Duignan and others. Published “Traditional Irish Guitar” (1989, revised 1996), the first such tutor. Has particular interest in the music of Sliabh Luachra. Has written for “The Companion to Irish Traditional Music”, “An Píobaire” and other publications. Has ongoing research project on the music collector Francis O’Neill. Formed duo Amala, with harpist Reidun Schlesinger; debut album, “resonance” (2016).
Jack Dennehy. Accordion player from Knocknagullane, on the Cork side of Rathmore. He played a 2-reed two-row accordion, one of three local small farmers who all played small boxes, the others being Joe Conway and Johnny Sullivan.
Johnny Dennehy(?-1982). Fiddle and tin whistle player and singer from Rossanean, Currow; a pupil of Tom Billy Murphy. Regarded as an outstanding all-round player, equally adept with slow airs and dance tunes; was known to sing and play an air at the same time. Some of his music was passed on to Maurice O’Keeffe.
Denis Doody(1937-2007). Accordion and melodeon player from Ballinahulla, on the Kerry side of Ballydesmond. Learned much of his music from the lilting of his mother, and from neighbour Biddy Lenihan (concertina); also learned from Pádraig O’Keeffe. Was nephew of Din Tarrant. Emigrated to London in 1954, and became involved in the vibrant Irish music scene there. Settled in County Clare in 1964 and formed musical partnership with fiddler Donal O’Connor; both were also members of Brosna Céilí Band. Had great store of unusual tunes, including some learned from “Cuz” Teahan on a visit to Chicago. Recorded solo album, “Kerry Music” (1979), probably unique among traditional Irish recordings in containing no reels.
Jimmy Doyle(b.1944). Accordion and melodeon. His family home at Maulykevane (Jib), west of Gneeveguilla, was a well-known “rambling house” where music was played for listening rather than dancing. His father, Pat, was a fiddler and his mother Julia was a singer. Jimmy is widely acknowledged to be a master on the C#/D Paolo Soprani; he was in the Desmond Céilí Band and is still very active in sessions. A great source of tunes, there is a score or more polkas that have “Jimmy Doyle’s” as one of their titles. At the 2009 Patrick O’Keeffe Festival in Castleisland he was presented with the Patrick O’ Keeffe Award for dedication to Sliabh Luachra music.
Corney Drew(1832-?). Fiddler and music teacher, born in Dromtariffe (between Millstreet and Kanturk, County Cork); also settled near Kiskeam, and in Drumoltan, near Scartaglin. A key figure in the history of Sliabh Luachra music. Partially or fully blind. Pupils included Margaret and Cal O’Callaghan (mother and uncle, respectively, of Pádraig O’Keeffe), Tadhg Ó Buachalla (Timothy Buckley, “Taidhgín an Asail”), William Fitzgerald and John Lenihan, all of whom were influential on later generations of Sliabh Luachra musicians (Ó Buachalla taught Tom Billy Murphy and Din Tarrant, Lenihan taught Maurice O’Keeffe). Probably learned his music from Tipperary fiddle and dancing master Timothy O’Grady, who moved to Rockchapel, in north Cork; O’Grady (who died in the 1840s) had been a big house retainer, and may have been one of the people involved in the adaptation of the formal quadrille to local taste in the early 19th century, resulting in the “polka sets” for which Sliabh Luachra is renowned.
Michael (Mikey) Duggan. Knockrour Scartaglin
Mikey 1921 ~2012 was a fiddle player and pupil of Pádraig O Keeffe also learned from his parents both Concertina players and was greatly influenced by a neighbour Eileen Spillane a concertina and fiddle player . He was a member of the Desmond Céili Band for many years and he won the Pádraig O Keeffe Fiddle competition at the first Scartaglin Féile Cheoil in 1967. He played for many years with Johnny O Leary in Dan O’Connell’s and features on the 1977 Topic records recording .Was a major influence on fiddle player Matt Cranitch.Had great store of tunes, which he shared generously. Recipient of 2006 Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival Award for services to Sliabh Luachra music.
Broadcaster and Collector
Séamus Ennis, Uilleann Piper, Folklore and Music Collector, was born on May 5th 1919 in Dublin. A collector for the Irish Folklore Commission and later for Radio Eireann we can thank him for recording Pádraig O Keeffe , Denis Murphy and many others. As a result of his work young people today can hear these recordings and treasure them . In 2019 a reel to reel recording of Seamus talking and playing with Denis Murphy found in the attic in Denis’s house in Lisheen was donated to the Handed Down Sliabh Luachra Archive and is another treasure left behind by Seamus Ennis for the people of Sliabh Luachra
William Fitzgerald. Travelling fiddle master from Conrea, Ballydesmond. Pupil of Corney Drew. A manuscript of his, dated 1866, survives, the contents of which give an insight into the mid-19th century Sliabh Luachra repertoire: quadrille sets, waltzes, continental style polkas, and a few unaltered English Morris tunes (possibly picked up from immigrant Cornish miners), and just a small number of jigs, reels and hornpipes. Pádraig O’Keeffe is known to have studied this manuscript.
Eamon Flynn. Mountcollins Co Limerick
Eamon, a fiddle and boxplayer and composer is a former member of the Brosna Céili Band .He learned music from Martin Ward of Tournafulla and also from his parents who also played .He emigrated to the USA in 1959 and spent many decades there playing and teaching music and made three recordings there. He is now back in Mountcollins and can be heard playing locally .
Paudie Gleeson ( 1933- 2014). Fiddler from Mountrodger, Gneeveguilla. Mother Katie (O’Leary) played concertina, but it was lost when the home was destroyed by fire when Paudie was a baby. Renowned fiddler Johnny “Mick Dinny” Cronin (brother of Paddy Cronin), persuaded Paudie to buy a fiddle and brought him to Pádraig O’Keeffe for tuition, which continued for some time. Paudie played for dances with O’Keeffe, Cronin and others, but with the decline of traditional dancing in the late 1950s, and the departure of Johnny Cronin to America, Paudie stopped playing, and in 1959 himself emigrated to New York and later Chicago. In 1970 married Agnes Duffy, whose US-born parents were both fiddle players; her influence, and a honeymoon in Gneeveguilla, revived Paudie’s interest in music. Returned home in 1977 and became a frequent and welcome player at sessions and festivals, often with son-in-law Joe O’Sullivan and Jimmy Doyle.
William F. (Billy) Hanafin (1875-1924) and Michael Hanafin (1880-1970). Brothers from Callinfercy, near Milltown. Parents Bessie and Cornelius were noted dancers, and the family farmhouse was a centre of music and dancing activity. Billy and Michael both learned dancing from their father. Billy learned tin whistle from local flute player and dancing master Florence Hartnett, and fiddle from Mike Hurley, of Keel. Both brothers emigrated to Boston at a young age. On a visit home, Billy met and played with Dick Stephenson, famous piper from Clonakilty, and thereafter took up the pipes himself. As a duet, the brothers were much involved in the Irish music scene in Boston. Francis O’Neill made four cylinder recordings of Billy, now in the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin; his pipes are now in the possession of Christy O’Leary of Kenmare; the well-known reel, “The Bird in the Bush”, is believed to have been composed by Billy. Michael played and recorded with Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band. A plaque to the two brothers was erected in 2003 in Milltown by Kerry CCÉ. O’Neill’s “Irish Minstrels and Musicians” has much information on the brothers, especially Billy.
Gerry Harrington (b.1959). Fiddler and composer from Kenmare, now living in Leitrim. Deeply involved in Sliabh Luachra music from early on, and besides his own recordings – solo (“At Home”, 2011) and with others, including Eoghan O’Sullivan, The Smoky Chimney, Nancy Conescu, Peter Horan, Charlie Piggott and Billy Clifford – has also produced recordings of Timmy O’Connor (“As it was in Toureendarby”, 2008) and Billy Clifford (“Echoes of Sliabh Luachra”, 2010).
Michael Hartnett. Dancer and whistler from north-west Cork, much admired by Francis O’Neill, to whom he gave many old tunes. O’Neill did not use the term “Sliabh Luachra”, but it is apparent that he refers to the area in this passage from “Irish Minstrels and Musicians” (1913): “..even in our own day in the cosmopolitan city of Chicago, such noted dancers of the old school as Richard Sullivan, Officer Timothy M Dillon, Sergeants Michael Hartnett and Garret Stack, were born and brought up within a radius of a dozen miles or so of where the Counties of Kerry, Cork, and Limerick come together.”
Ellen Healy (O’Leary).Tin whistle player from Gneeveguilla. Born into a musical family: mother Lil played concertina, father was the renowned Johnny O’Leary. Also learned music from Nicky McAuliffe. Since childhood, played with her father (helping to fill the void left by the death of Denis Murphy) and other musicians in Dan O’Connell’s in Knocknagree and elsewhere, and as a result possesses an unrivalled store of Sliabh Luachra music and lore. Played on Johnny O’Leary’s 1977 album, “Music for the Set”.
Mallow and New York
(from Bill Horan) “My dad a flute player was born in US but moved back to Mallow area when he was about 3. His dads family was from Caherbarnagh (up the mountain from Rathmore). He spent a lot of summers in Caherbarnagh. His mom was Nellie Murphy of the famous “ Waivers” Murphys of Lisheen a fiddle player and he also spent a lot of time in Lisheen learning to play flute and tin whistle from Denis, Julia and others in the area. Had a great great fondness for all of those people and the Sliabh Luachra music.”
Paddy Jones.Fiddler and music teacher from Kilcusnan, Castleisland. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe (1957-60); also learned tunes from Paddy and Willie O’Connell, and eventually from many of the older generation of Sliabh Luachra musicians. Has travelled, played and taught music in many different countries, while also learning learning about other cultures and styles of music. Has a broad and deep interest in music and culture generally, which gives a depth of feeling to his playing, especially in slow airs.
Bridgie Kelleher, née Murphy (1894-1993). Concertina and fiddle player, from Lisheen; eldest of the family of Bill “The Weaver” and Mainie Murphy. Learned concertina when young, but gave it up due to family responsibilities; later played fiddle. She was recorded by Peter Browne for the RTÉ radio programme Airneánin January 1988, with her sister Julia Clifford and Johnny O’Leary.
Maurice Leane. From Annagh, Castleisland. Learned fiddle from Tom Billy Murphy. Emigrated to London and in late 1940s and 1950s, ran All-Ireland Social Club at The Stadium, Cricklewood, where John and Julia Clifford played in the “ceilidh” band (alternating 20-minute sets with an all-female popular music dance band led by Betty Jackson).
John Lenihan (1860-1932). Fiddler and music teacher from Kiskeam. Learned from Corney Drew, which links him – and by extension his pupils, such as Maurice O’Keeffe – with the earliest stages of the development of Sliabh Luachra music as we know it today. He was a strict teacher, and taught scales and staff notation as well as repertoire. Some of his manuscripts appear in Dan Herlihy’s “Sliabh Luachra Music Masters: Volume 2”; they include Scottish tunes, ballroom dances and popular song airs as well as polkas and slides.
Paddy Lyons. Fiddler and (possibly) dancing master, friend of Pádraig O’Keeffe, at whose house in Glountane he stayed when in the area. Played frequently with O’Keeffe and Din Tarrant in Knocknagree. “He was a travelling man who used to play the fiddle behind his back” (Johnny O’Leary). Source of several tunes, named for him, in the Sliabh Luachra repertoire.
Tomás is a fiddle player and fiddle teacher in Dublin . Of North Kerry stock he first visited Sliabh Luachra in 1989 and was greatly influenced by the older fiddle players he met at Scartaglin Féile Cheoil and a love of the music and area has continued since . A valued member of the World Fiddle Day Scartaglin team it was Tomás who spearheaded the website and video section to ensure footage and repertoire are preserved for future generations.
John Mahinney. Barnard, Gneeveguilla. Neighbour and friend of Bill “The Waiver” Murphy, Gneevegullia. A musician, but it is uncertain what instrument he played. Source of several tunes, named for him, in the Sliabh Luachra repertoire.
Maurice Manley. Fiddle player and music teacher (and tailor). Had a dancing platform at Tureenglanhee, Knocknagree. Later he settled in Vaughan’s dance hall, Ballydesmond; his daughter Julia played there after him (Vaughan’s dance hall was the first in the area, opening in 1924 and closing in 1985).
Anne McAuliffe(née Sheehy) (b. 1946). Flute, fiddle, accordion and concertina player and teacher, from Glenoe, Lixnaw. Became involved in music through Comhaltas Ceoltόirí Éireann. All-Ireland under-18 accordion winner, 1964, and senior whistle winner, 1967. Played with the Desmond Céili Band and the Brosna Céili Band. Founder member of Siamsa Tíre (National Folk Theatre of Ireland), and played in the “house band” with husband Nicky. Nicky and Anne toured North America with CCÉ in 1975. Hugely influential in teaching and mentoring young musicians in Kerry and further afield. Nicky and Anne were jointly awarded the Gradam Saoil (Lifetime Achievement Award) in the TG4 Gradam Ceoil 2019 (“the Oscars” for Irish traditional music, presented by the Irish language TV station TG4).
Nicholas (Nicky) McAuliffe(b.1945). Fiddler, flute player and music teacher from Cordal, Castleisland. Father played accordion. Nicky went to school in Knocknagoshel, an area rich in traditional music, which he absorbed readily, along with recordings of “the greats” of Irish music. Played with the Desmond Céili Band and the Brosna Céili Band, and with the “house band” of Siamsa Tíre (National Folk Theatre of Ireland). All-Ireland senior whistle winner, 1971. Possesses great store of knowledge of traditional music in general and Sliabh Luachra music in particular, and is much sought after for information. With wife Anne Sheehy, has been hugely influential in teaching and mentoring young musicians in Kerry and further afield. Nicky and Anne were jointly awarded the Gradam Saoil (Lifetime Achievement Award) in the TG4 Gradam Ceoil 2019 (“the Oscars” for Irish traditional music, presented by the Irish language TV station TG4).
Jerry McCarthy(1926-1995). Fiddler from Gortglass, Cordal, Castleisland. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe at age 8. Father and five maternal aunts were concertina players. Spent several years in England and New York in the 1960s; was active in Irish music scene in New York, and performed five times in Carnegie Hall. Later returned to Ireland, settling in Dublin in 1979. Frequently performed on RTÉ radio and television; won the Oireachtas Gold Medal on fiddle in 1947. Specialist in slow airs.
Denis McMahon(1941-2018). Fiddler and accordion player from Ballyhar; learned fiddle from Jerry McCarthy and accordion from Pádraig O’Keeffe. A member of both the Brosna Céilí Band and the Desmond Céilí Band; also played regularly with Connie O’Connell. Frequently appeared on TV and radio. Featured on two tracks of the 1968 album “Paddy in the Smoke”, playing with Julia Clifford and Con Curtin; and with Connie O’Connell on three tracks of “The County Bounds” album. Also recorded on Volumes 2 to 5 of ‘Set Dances of Ireland’, a series of recordings to accompany Larry Lynch’s book, ‘Set Dances of Ireland, Tradition and Evolution’. Received award for dedication to the music of Sliabh Luachra at the 2010 Patrick O’Keeffe Festival.
Sonny McSweeney. Gneeveguilla
Sonny McSweeney was a fiddle player and a pupil of Tom Billy’s and possibly O’Keeffe as well . Great recordings of him that exist in the Handed Down Sliabh Luachra Archive of his playing from the mid seventies show his style was different and well suited to dancers . He worked on the building of Denis Murphy’s house and was captured in the great photo taken outside the Listowel Arms in Listowel above with , Denis Murphy , Pádraig Ó Keeffe, Willie Clancy . Radio Eireann recordings also exist of Sonny which broadcaster Peter Browne used for a talk in the Pipers Club in 2017 .
Thomas Moran. Scartaglin Co Kerry
Thomas Moran is a singer and multi instrumentalist from Scartaglin , he learned whistle initially from John the Tailor Brosnan and competed on whistle and flute at Kerry and Cork Feile Cheoil in the early seventies winning many titles . He has a number of rare local tunes and in our archive are samples of Thomas’s playing . He is now better known as a fantastic solo singer and guitar player and can be found playing in all good venues locally attracting large crowds .
Con Moynihan(b.1967). Fiddler from Gneeveguilla. Absorbed music from his father Paddy (accordion) and sisters Eileen (tin whistle) and Jane (accordion). Pupil of Nicky McAuliffe. Has studied closely and learned from several of the older generation, including Jerry McCarthy, Mikey Duggan and Paddy Cronin. Recorded CD, “Sunday After Mass” (2003), with Denis O’Connor (banjo).
Paddy Moynihan.Accordion player from Gneeveguilla; played in Thady Willie O’Connor’s dance hall with Johnny O’Leary. Father of fiddler Con Moynihan.
Bill “The Weaver” Murphy(?–1947) and Mainie Murphy (née Corbett). Parents of the famously talented siblings, Julia (Clifford) (q.v.) and Denis (q.v.). Bill (from Lisheen) played fife, flute, whistle and fiddle; organised the Lisheen fife-&-drum band; often played with John Mahinney Barnard. According to Julia, he learned much music from travelling musicians like Tadhg Ó Buachalla (Taidhgín an Asail) and Phil Walsh. Mainie was from about two miles away, between Quarry Lodge and Lisheen; she was a singer. The couple had nine children: Bridgie (q.v.), Nell (Horan), Mary (q.v.), Dan (q.v.), Taidy, Hannie (q.v.), Denis and Julia. All were musical and learned the fiddle; and except for Bridgie, all emigrated to America or Britain.
Dan Murphy.Fiddler, from Lisheen. Son of Bill “The Waiver” and Mainie Murphy. Regarded locally as an outstanding fiddler, but emigrated young to New York, where he played with all the leading Irish musicians; at one time had a radio show with Paddy Killoran.
Denis Murphy (1910-1974). Fiddler from Lisheen, Gneeveguilla. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe. Along with his sister Julia Clifford, widely regarded as one of the greatest Irish traditional musicians. Emigrated to New York in 1949, returning home at intervals, and permanently in 1964. Had long musical partnership with Johnny O’Leary. Recordings include “Kerry Fiddles” with his sister Julia Clifford and Pádraig O’Keeffe; “The Star Above the Garter” with Julia; and “Denis Murphy: Music from Sliabh Luachra”.
Diarmuid Murphy. Gneeveguilla Co Kerry
Diarmuid Murphy was a fiddle player and a playing partner of Sonny Riordan and Mick Cronin . We are not sure if he was a pupil of P O Keeffe’s but Sonny Riordan is on record as saying he was a nice player . He worked locally in the waterworks and in our Archive are recordings of Diarmuid playing with Sonny and Mick.
Hannie Murphy. Fiddler, from Lisheen; daughter of Bill “The Waiver” and Mainie Murphy. Emigrated to New York.
James T Murphy. Dromina, Charelivlle, Co. Cork
Jim was born on Feb 19 1940 in Castletownroche Co.Cork., lived in Birmingham 1945-1949.. started on fiddle by a Miss Steepe from Ballyorgan in Co.Limerick.I was 11. This was not traditional music..Didn’t play much for years.Scully’s Newmarket 1978 was my first.I thank Con Herbert for this.I went regularly there for about 10 years also Dan Connells.I used to go Friday and Sunday nights, 32 miles from our back door.Pete Bradley took an interest in my progress and would say”You’re coming on at the Jigs “That said a lot about the reels! I look forward to the Willie Clancy week each July. The Cibeal Cincíse that was held in Kenmare in 80’s was also fab.There are many others but i look forward to World fiddle day in Scartaglin.”
Mary Murphy. Fiddler, from Lisheen; daughter of Bill “The Waiver” and Mainie Murphy. A fine fiddler, dances at her house were among the best locally, according to her sister Julia (Clifford). Emigrated to Oregon and later New York, where for a time she ran an all-female band called “The Maids of Erin”.
Molly Murphy, née Myers (1916-2002). Fiddler, from Killeagh, Farranfore. Pupil of Tom Billy Murphy, married his nephew Willie Murphy and settled in Glencollins. Had large collection of Tom Billy’s music, written out by herself, containing many rare tunes. Highly valued as a source by Breandán Breathnach, who included tunes from her in Ceol Rince na hÉireann 2; many more are in Cnuasach an Bhreathnaigh(BB’s personal archive) in the Irish Traditional Music Archive, Dublin. Was interviewed in and played on RTÉ Radio documentary on Tom Billy made by Pat Feeley in 1980 (available on RTÉ Radio website).
Nell Murphy Lisheen. Lisheen Gneeveguilla, Mallow Co Cork
Nell like all of Bill the waivers children played the fiddle . She spent time in New York but returned to live in Mallow Co Cork . At least one of her children played.
Tom Billy Murphy (1875-1943). Fiddler and music teacher from Glencollins, Ballydesmond; along with Pádraig O’Keeffe, one of the key figures in Sliabh Luachra music. Contracted polio at age eight, leaving him blind and partially disabled. Learned music from Tadhg Buckley (“Taidhgín an Asail”), whose ABC system of notation he used himself in dictating tunes to pupils, including Molly Myers Murphy, Pete Bradley, Jack “The Lighthouse” Connell, Johnny Mickey Barry, and many others. Travelled about Sliabh Luachra on a donkey, and was renowned as storyteller and wit, as well as a musician. Possessed great store of old and rare tunes, but unfortunately was never recorded himself, though much of his repertoire (and an indication of his style) was later gathered from Molly Myers Murphy and others. Many Tom Billy manuscripts are stored in Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin.
Kate Mulcahy (b.1959). Fiddler from Camp. Learned music from Mickey Dunne and from her mother Brigid (a fine singer from Connemara), as well as being influenced by Seamus Creagh and others in the Sliabh Luachra revival. Flowing style of playing and vast repertoire make her a valued addition to sessions throughout Kerry and Cork.
Aoife Ní Chaoimh(b.1977). Fiddler from Tralee, youngest of a musical family. Learned from Nicky McAuliffe and Anne Sheehy, as well as her sister Máire (Ní Chaoimh/O’Keeffe). With husband Paudie O’Connor, recorded album, “Didn’t She Dance and Dance” (2014).
Tadhg Ó Buachalla(“Taidhgín an Asail”), in English, Timothy Buckley (“Timmy of the donkey”). Travelling fiddle master, active in the late 19th century. He learned from Corney Drew, and his own pupils included Tom Billy Murphy (1875-1944) and Din Tarrant (1871-1957). Lived in Park, Knocknagree, but at different times also in Kiskeam and Scartaglin. He travelled around on a donkey, mending shoes and teaching music. He taught using a form of ABC notation, as did his pupil Tom Billy Murphy.
Cal O’Callaghan. Fiddler from Doon, near Kiskeam, County Cork. Learned music from the famous Corney Drew, who in turn was taught by blind travelling fiddle master Timothy O’Grady, from Tipperary. Cal lived in Ohio c.1860-1880 in a mainly Scottish community, but returned to Doon. Many Sliabh Luachra polkas and slides derive from Scottish tunes, and Cal is likely to have introduced some of these (there are other likely sources, such as fife-and-drum bands, printed collections, etc.); he may also be the source of American tune books such as “Ryan’s Mammoth Collection” and the George Saunders violin tutor, both of which were in use in Sliabh Luachra. Cal may have brought back the technique of octave bassing as used by rural fiddlers in America. He taught music to his sister Margaret’s son, Pádraig O’Keeffe, who was fostered out, as was common custom, to the O’Callaghan family home in Doon; Pádraig often said that his music came from his mother’s family, by which he mainly meant Cal (though Margaret also played concertina and sang); the many “Doon Reel”s probably came from Cal.
Connie O’Connell (b.1943). Fiddler, composer and music teacher from Cill na Martra, County Cork, from a musical family: his mother played melodeon for house dances, and there was fiddle playing on his father’s side. Self-taught at first on fiddle, he later learned from Macroom fiddler Paddy Foley, and in 1967 met and was inspired by Denis Murphy. Has studied and absorbed the music of Sliabh Luachra over many years, and is generous in sharing his knowledge. Recorded solo album, “Ceol Chill na Martra” (2000); in 2014, published “Connie O’Connell: Original Compositions from a Master Fiddle Player”, a book/CD containing over 60 of his own tunes in the traditional style.
Knocknagree, Co Cork
Dan was born in 1921 in Tureen , Knocknagree . In his youth he was an accomplished long distance runner and cyclist . He married and bought the bar in Knocknagree and started music sessions and set dancing in 1964 … he had a great interest in music , dancing and culture .. people came from all corners of the country and from worldwide . He was very much a people person .. and loved young and old ..he also was a rep for packo and mueller and sold many a bulktank and knew every corner of Munster in his career ! He was married to Hannah ( Lucey) and had 7 members in the family . He passed away in may 2009. Without a doubt Dan played a huge part in preserving Sliabh Luachra music and increasing it’s appeal and his name will always be remembered for it.
Paddy O’Connell(1913-2002). Fiddler from Cordal. Born into a musical house, where both parents played concertina and house sessions were frequent. Learned fiddle from Pádraig O’Keeffe, and had collection of POK manuscripts (“Many’s a Wild Night”, title tune on Jackie Daly’s 1996 album, came from that collection). Learned to use O’Keeffe’s tablature system himself, and shared his music freely. Brother Willie also played fiddle.
Cordal and Castleisland Co Kerry
Tom O Connell , Banjo , mandolin and fiddle player who learnt by ear from his father Paddy who was a pupil of O Keeffe’s. Tom is a very popular and in demand session player who can be heard in Killarney often . Also a fine singer and has a large selection of tunes.
Willie O’Connell(1917-2011). Fiddler from Cordal. Born into a musical house, where both parents played concertina and house sessions were frequent. Brother Paddy also played fiddle. Learned fiddle from Pádraig O’Keeffe, and had great store of tunes. A regular and welcome presence at sessions all over Sliabh Luachra, usually with Jer Collins (fiddle).
Dan Jeremiah O’Connor (?-2009). Fiddler from Knockeenahone, Scartaglin. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe. Played frequently with Ned O’Connor (no relation) in Tom Fleming’s pub in Scartaglin. Possessed an extensive repertoire of unusual tunes, especially slides and polkas, and was also a gifted storyteller.
Denis O’Connor.Banjo player from Castlehill, Cordal. Learned music from his late father Maurice (fiddle), a pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe, and later from other fiddlers, Paddy O’Connell, Francie Davy O’Connor and Jerry McCarthy. Recorded CD, “Sunday After Mass” (2003) with fiddler Con Moynihan.
Donal O’Connor (b.1935) and Patrick O’Connor(b.1933). Fiddlers from Brosna. Learned music from their father, Paddy Jerry O’Connor, whose own mother, Ellen Guiney, was a pupil of Patrick O’Grady, a key figure in the early development of set dancing and the associated music in Sliabh Luachra. Both brothers played in the Brosna Ceili Band. Patrick also played with The Star of Munster Ceili Band with the Cliffords and Moloneys in the 1950s. Donal played with Denis Doody for many years at functions in Bunratty Castle, and was part of the group of Irish musicians invited by the Smithsonian Institute to tour the USA as part of the American Bicentennial celebrations in 1976. Donal has appeared frequently on TV and radio. Recordings include “Re-Joyce: Tunes and Songs from the Joyce Collection” (2003), with Jackie Daly, Máire O’Keeffe and John Faulkner.
Francis D. O’Connor
Martin O’Connor( b.1949). Fiddler from Castlehill, Cordal, son of Maurice O’Connor. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe, possibly the last one. Like his father, played mainly at home, but also played at World Fiddle Day 2015 session in Lyons Bar. In January 2019 he was a special guest of Matt Cranitch at a Handed Down Lecture in Scartaglin Heritage Centre, where he spoke about O’Keeffe and played for the audience.
Maurice O’Connor(1917-1987). Fiddler from Gortglass, Scartaglin, later of Castlehill, Cordal. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe, as were elder brothers Denis and John. Musical friendship with O’Keeffe continued into adulthood, and O’Keeffe was a frequent visitor to the house in Castlehill. Maurice mainly played at home for his own and his family’s enjoyment. Also played with neighbour Paddy O’Connell and with Jerry McCarthy. Daughter Bridie (Reidy) and son Martin also learned from Pádraig O’Keeffe.
Ned O’Connor.Fiddle and C#/D accordion player from Mullen, Scartaglin. Fiddle pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe. Played frequently with Dan Jeremiah O’Connor (no relation) in Tom Fleming’s pub in Scartaglin. Has large store of unusual local tunes.
Niall O’Connor. Cordal and Scartaglin
Niall O Connor boxplayer is steeped in Sliabh Luachra music , his grandmother Nellie was a pupil of Pádraig O Keeffe’s and his uncle is boxplayer John Brosnan . A popular session player , he played for many years with Ned O’Connor fiddle and now has a musical partnership with banjo player Tom O Connell . Can be heard in Killarney during summer season
Noeleen O’Connor.Fiddler from Ballyhar, from a musical family: mother and uncles (Kathleen, Jimmy, Eamonn and Tom Marshall, from Killsorcan) all played accordion, as does brother Paudie. Frequent performer at sesssions in Killarney area. Featured on six tracks on “The County Bounds” album (1999), and also plays on Paudie’s album “Different State” (2005).
Paudie O’Connor(b.1975). Accordion player from Ballyhar. Mother and uncles (Kathleen, Jimmy, Eamonn and Tom Marshall, from Killsorcan) all played accordion. Paudie was taught by Pádraig Moynihan and Anne Sheehy McAuliffe, also influenced by observing and playing with Jimmy Doyle, Johnny O’Leary and John Brosnan. The latter’s adaptation of B/C accordion style to a more press-&-draw sound led Paudie to develop his own “Sliabh Luachra B/C” style. More recently he has taken to the C#/D system (the more usual press-&-draw system). Recorded solo album , “Different State” (2005) and with his wife Aoife Ní Chaoimh, “Didn’t She Dance and Dance” (2014).
Thady Willie O’Connor (1886-1974). Dance hall proprietor. Played bass drum in Bill “The Weaver” Murphy’s Lisheen fife-&-drum band. Opened a dance hall in Gneevegullia in 1927, which continued until the early 1980s (run in latter years by son Jim). Johnny O’Leary had his first professional engagement there in 1936, aged 13, when he sat in for the absent Mick O’Mahony, partnering Denis Murphy (also a “first” for Johnny). Other musicians performing there at various times included Pádraig O’Keeffe, Julia and John Clifford, Paddy and Johnny Cronin, and many more.
Art was a whistle player and singer and was a neighbour of Denis Murphys . He was older than Denis and had played in Bill the Waivers Fife and Drum band . He was a source of tunes for Denis and today many slides and polkas carry his name as their title . Recordings and video footage exist of Art and his name is recognised as an important part of Sliabh Luachra musical history.
Billy O’Keeffe. Rathmore and Wicklow
Billy plays many instruments including whistle ,flute and melodeon . He carries on the tradition of his father Denis who was a well known box player in Sliabh Luachra. Billy lives outside of Kerry but can be found at all major Sliabh Luachra festivals and gatherings and has a large repertoire of tunes.
Dan O’Keeffe (“Danny Ab”).Flute and tin whistle player, lilter and whistler, of Tureen Cahill, north of Lisheen, near the Murphy’s house. Got his music from his mother (who may have been a pupil of Tom Billy Murphy, who regarded the Lisheen area as part of his territory).
Denis O’Keeffe, Rathmore, Co Kerry
Denis was a button accordion player from Rathmore in Sliabh Luachra who played a single-row Globe Gold Medal accordion brought to him from the United States in the 1930’s . O’Keeffe , from Rathmore, County Kerry, played an old three-stop melodeon until he got a Globe Gold-Medal accordion from New York in 1932.. He had many unusual tunes which can be found in many tune books today .He played usually with fiddle player Tim O Keeffe ( no relation ) .
Máire O’Keeffe(b.1959). Fiddler, broadcaster and researcher from Tralee; eldest of a musical family. Learned from Nicky McAuliffe and Anne Sheehy. Has interviewed and recorded many musicians from Sliabh Luachra and elsewhere for the Irish Traditional Music Archive. Presented the RTÉ Radio series “The Long Note” in early 1990s, and has presented several of the “Handed Down” lectures in Scartaglin. As well as being steeped in Kerry music, she has also studied and absorbed influences from other styles, including Donegal fiddling and the music of Cape Breton (Canada). Her CD, “Cόisir/House Party” (1994) was recorded in Cape Breton with local musicians, and features a mix of Irish and Cape Breton tunes. She also plays on nine tracks of “The County Bounds” album (1999).
Maurice O’Keeffe (1919-2017). Fiddler from Glounreagh, Kiskeam. Learned music from his mother, who played melodeon and concertina, and from fiddle master John Lenihan. Briefly played trombone in local marching band. Played fiddle in dancehalls, informally and as member of the Araglen Ceili Band, and also enjoyed pub sessions in Kiskeam, Knocknagree, Newmarket and elsewhere. In a tradition not short of larger-than-life characters, Maurice stood out for his geniality, wit and generosity. Great source of tunes and lore for other musicians (duly credited on recordings by Jackie Daly, Máire O’Keeffe, The Monks of the Screw and many others); recorded dozens of “kitchen tapes” which he sent to interested people all over Ireland and beyond. The Maurice O’Keeffe Traditional Music Weekend began in Kiskeam in 2002 and still continues. Maurice was presented with the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Award at the 2007 Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival in Castleisland.
Norah O’Keeffe. Concertina player from Glountane, sister of Pádraig O’Keeffe; was a teacher and taught in Glountane; married a neighbour, Tom Carmody.
Pádraig O’Keeffe (1887-1963). Fiddler and music teacher from Glountane. The most important figure in the Sliabh Luachra pantheon, a musical genius and “character” whose influence continues to shape the development of our music (Tom Billy Murphy and Din Tarrant were just two of the other outstanding musicians of that generation of outstanding musicians, but unlike Pádraig they were never recorded, so their stylistic influence is less). Up to the age of six he was fostered, as was customary, to his mother Margaret O’Callaghan’s family home in Doon, near Kiskeam, where he learned a great deal of music from his uncle, Cal O’Callaghan. Pádraig trained as a schoolteacher and for a time succeeded his father John as principal of Glountane National School, but such a life did not suit him and he resigned in 1920, at the messianic age of 33. For the rest of his life he made a precarious living from music, playing for dances and teaching a large number of pupils all over Sliabh Luachra. He taught accordion and concertina as well as fiddle, and devised his own system of notation to indicate bowing, fingering and phrasing. He was an excellent musician, and his style and his versions of tunes remain the subject of study to this day. He was recorded by both Raidiό Eireann and the BBC, but these recordings remained in the archives until after his death. The first publicly available recording was of Pádraig with his two finest pupils, Julia Clifford and Denis Murphy, recorded in Charlie Horan’s bar in Castleisland in 1952 and released by Topic Records in 1977 as “Kerry Fiddles” (the first in a series of six albums devoted to the music of Sliabh Luachra – by an English record company). Peter Browne of RTÉ assembled a collection of archive recordings of Pádraig for the CD, “The Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Master: Pádraig O’Keeffe”, released in 1993. In the same year, the first Patrick O’Keeffe Festival was held in Castleisland, and has continued ever since (many people knew him as “Patrick” rather than “Pádraig”).
Tim a fiddle player was like his brother Jim a pupil of Pádraig O Keeffe’s and he was a regular playing partner of Denis O Keeffe also of Rathmore
Bryan O’Leary(b.1993). Accordion player, from Tureencahill, between Ballydesmond and Gneeveguillia. Learned directly from Nicky McAuliffe and indirectly from his grandfather, Johnny O’Leary, via recordings. Has keen interest in the history and culture of Sliabh Luachra, and has played with and been influenced by many of the senior generation of musicians, especially Billy Clifford, Jimmy Doyle, Paudie Gleeson and Dan Jeremiah O’Connor. Recipient of TG4 “Young Musician Of The Year” award (2014). Recordings include “Where The Bog Is” (2015), with Colm Guilfoyle (flute), and “The Conifers” (2018) as part of the band of the same name.
Carmel is an All Ireland winning Tin Whistle Champion and a brilliant player . She is part of a great musical Scartaglin family and though not around enough any more , she is a great session player with a large repertoire of tunes . She has moved on to the Uilleann Pipes and in 2019 has moved to live in Santiago De Compostela where along with her partner Denis who play in the Café Gramola sessions there.
Mount Scartaglin , Dublin and Uk
Another of the musical O’Leary family from Scartaglin . Collette was reared in Dublin and has won two All Ireland titles .Colette was a founding member of highly acclaimed all girl Irish group “Bumblebees”. Between 1996-2002, they released two albums Bumblebees and Buzzin . Based in the UK Collette has played for Presidents and has recorded and played with many over there but returns and plays locally here on occasions.
Dan O’Leary(1914-1987). Fiddler from Maulykeavane, uncle of Johnny O’Leary. Pupil of Tom Billy Murphy. Often played with Jimmy Doyle, with whom he recorded the album “Traditional Music from the Kingdom of Kerry” (1977).
Emma Ní Laoire (O’Leary). Mount Scartaglin . All Ireland Champion and Fiddle, whistle and banjo player and music teacher from Scartaglin. Pupil of Nickie McAuliffe and one of the gifted younger generation of players, from a musical family; father Dan (not to be confused with Johnny O’Leary’s uncle of the same name) played fiddle. Faithful to the Scartaglin style and influences from all the old local players who she played with and has a huge repertoire of Sliabh Luachra tunes collected locally.
Now based in Limerick but returns regularly to Sliabh Luachra to play .
Ellen O’Leary. See Ellen Healy (O’Leary).
Johnny O’Leary(1923-2004). Accordion and melodeon player from Maulykeavane, Gneeveguilla. Learned tunes at first from his uncle Dan O’Leary (a pupil of Tom Billy Murphy), and later from Pádraig O’Keeffe; he thus is closely associated with the two main strands of Sliabh Luachra music. First professional engagement at age 13 in Thady Willie O’Connor’s dance hall, playing with Denis Murphy – a partnership that lasted almost forty years, until Denis’s death in 1974; the pair were invited to supply the music when Dan O’Connell opened his bar in Knocknagree in 1964, and Johnny continued to play there almost every week, after Denis’s death, usually with daughter Ellen (Healy). Much appreciated by dancers, who responded to his impeccable rhythm and vigorous playing style, and by his fellow musicians, for whom he was an inexhaustible source of tunes. Recordings include “Music for the Set” (Vol. 5 of “Music from Sliabh Luachra”), and “The Trooper”, as well as four tracks on the compilation album “The County Bounds”. Breandán Breathnach’s study of Johnny was edited and greatly expanded by Terry Moylan in the book “Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra: Dance Music from the Cork-Kerry Border”.
Scartaglin and Castleisland
Michael O Leary is a box player from a very musical family with sisters Collette , Carmel and Emma well known .A busy farmer Michael is mad for music and a regular at sessions in the locality and elsewhere. He has a large store of Sliabh Luachra tunes.
Castleisland Co Kerry
Cormac is known far and wide as a fine singer and multi instrumentalist. As Chairman of the Patrick O’Keeffe Festival his place in history is assured for volunteering his time and energy for nearly thirty years to ensure the festival happens and that Patrick O Keeffe’s name and reputation is honoured. Cormac has released many CDs and is a regular at sessions around Castleisland.
Mick O’Mahony and Nelly O’Mahony. Brother and sister musicians from Quarry Cross. Mick played accordion in local dance halls, including the Tuar Mór and Thady Willie’s, often with Denis Murphy. In 1936, Mick had to miss an engagement in Thady Willie’s, and was replaced by a 13-year-old Johnny O’Leary – the beginning of a long partnership between Johnny and Denis. Several tunes in the Johnny O’Leary book were learned from, and named after, one or other of the siblings.
Siobhán McCarthy O’Mahony
Dublin and Laois
Siobhan carries on the the fiddle tradition of her famous dad Jerry and is passing in down now to her son James also a fiddle player. Siobhan returns to Co Kerry every year to Castleisland and Scartaglin to visit relatives and to play at World Fiddle Day in Scartaglin.
Patrick O’Reidy (c.1848-c.1920). Dancing master from Castleisland. Active in Kerry and later in London, where he settled in 1895, finding full time employment as a dancing teacher. Was appointed as Professor of Irish Dancing to the Gaelic League in London, and was involved in the first ever Irish “Ceili” (based on the Scottish model) on 30 October 1897 in Bloomsbury Hall. On that historic occasion the dancing was Kerry quadrille sets (enlarged from the house dance half set to the now contemporary full set) and waltzes. Corresponded with collector Francis O’Neill, who published tunes from him in “Waifs & Strays of Gaelic Melody” (1922).
Dáithín (or Davy) “the Waiver” O’Sullivan. Dancing master and fiddle master, active from around the mid-19th century to early 20th century. His circuit was the area between Brosna and Cordal, i.e., the geographical region originally called Sliabh Luachra. He may well have been one of the people responsible for developing the polka set, and perhaps contributed to the way of playing the music in what is now the Sliabh Luachra style.
Eoghan O’Sullivan (b.1964). Accordion and flute player and composer from Mitchelstown, County Cork; his father, Michael Finbarr, played accordion. Learned first from local CCÉ classes; later, influenced by Jackie Daly, became adept in the C#/D press-&-draw accordion style, and immersed himself in the music of Sliabh Luachra and traditional music in general. Teamed up with fiddler Gerry Harrington in 1991, with whom he recorded the album “Scéal Eile” (1993); with the addition of Paul de Grae on guitar, they recorded the well-regarded album “The Smoky Chimney” in 1996, which included a set of Eoghan’s compositions. More recently, has played and recorded with Clare fiddler Pat O’Connor, sometimes playing guitar accompaniment.
Eoin Stan O’Sullivan of Newmarket Co Cork had the honour of being appointed as Sliabh Luachra Musician in Residence in September 2019. A popular figure in the region , his appointment was welcomed everywhere in Sliabh Luachra.
Eoin Stan worked with school children and engaged with music festivals, music, singing and set dance groups, local musicians and music teachers to help promote the work being done by these groups.
Eóin has been immersed in the music and history of Sliabh Luachra since childhood, mainly thanks to his father – fiddle playing local historian Raymond O’Sullivan.
He has worked as a musician since the age of sixteen and plays with the Céiili All Stars and is passionate about the music and culture of the area where he grew up.
He has taught the local music to people of all ages and is also the director of Scullys Fest which has grown to be one of the highlights of the Sliabh Luachra musical calendar.
Joe O Sullivan
(b. 1970). Flute player from Scartaglin, born in England. Father (John) is from Carrigkerry in West Limerick, where he learned fiddle from Athea man Pateen Ahern; mother (Elizabeth) is from Roosky in Co. Roscommon. Joe was born in Bradford, raised in Essex and East London where he attended weekly music lessons with Brendan Mulkere. Started on tin whistle and progressed to flute. Moved back to Ireland in summer of 1984 and lived in West Limerick until March 1985 when he settled in Scartaglin. Has recorded and played regularly over past 35 years with Johnny O’Leary, Jimmy Doyle, Denis McMahon, Paudie O’Connor, John Brosnan and Bryan O’Leary, and is widely regarded as one of Sliabh Luachra’s finest musicians. In 2011 he played with All Ireland Senior Céilí Band Champions, The Shannonvale Céilí Band.
Timothy J. “Thadelo” O’Sullivan (1904-78). Flute, whistle, melodeon and concertina player from Annaghbeg, Gneeveguilla. Friend and neighbour of Johnny O’Leary. His name is associated with many unusual tunes, apparently from the repertoires of Tom Billy Murphy and Din Tarrant.
Corneilus P O O’Sullivan
Corneilus was born in the USA in 1936 but moved back to Ireland with his parents as a six year old and attended Primary School in Gneeveguilla. He learnt his first polkas from Bridgie Kelliher a sister of Denis Murphy and he became heavily influenced by Denis’s playing and copied his style from tapes he made and later by playing with Denis from a phone interview April 2019) . He was recorded for Radio Eireann by Ciarán MacMathuna together with Denis Murphy and Dan Cronin in Cronin’s home in the mid fifties. This was the first recording ever made in Sliabh Luachra by Ciarán and featured in an RTÉ collection called Music from Kerry and Clare . Recent recordings of Cornelius and Denis from the Bronx New York have been found and donated to the Handed Down Archive. This recording was made after Corneilus returned to New York in 1963 . Cornelius P O Sullivan is now 83 years old and still active as a doctor in Pittsburgh USA. We thank him for the photo and info .
Sean Quinn.Flute player from Cordal, source of all the Pádraig O’Keeffe tunes called “Quinn’s”.
Johnny Reidy. Mullen, Scartaglin
One of Ireland’s most famous boxplayers known far and wide and greatly loved by set dancers throughout Ireland . An All Ireland Champion he learnt from his uncle Willie who in turn learnt from Pádraig Ó Keeffe .Has a huge repertoire of tunes and has released many recordings . Hugely in demand for Ceilís everywhere it is rare to hear him play in sessions now.
Castleisland Co Kerry
John is a highly respected photographer and journalist who has chronicled the happenings in Sliabh Luachra music circles for over thirty years . An expert on musicians in the area and founding member of the Patrick O’Keeffe Festival in Castleisland . Holds possibly the definitive Archive photo collection of musicians and is also a fine singer and mandolin player and good company in any gathering .John has helped every organisation in Sliabh Luachra in their endeavours.
Scartaglin and Ballymacelligott
Highly regarded boxplayer who was taught by Pádraig Ó Keeffe . Willie went on to teach many boxplayers both in North Kerry where he worked for years and later in the Castleisland and Scartaglin areas . His pupils went on to win over 20 All Ireland titles which is testament to his tuition.
Mike Rice. Abbeydorney and Tralee Co Kerry
Mike Rice is a well known outstanding flute player from North Kerry . He learnt whistle from Michelle O Sullivan before moving on to flute . A visit to Scartaglin Féile Cheoil in the nineties left an impression on him musically and he returns there frequently .A popular session player he has anchored sessions at World Fiddle Day in Scartaglin since 2013 attracting the cream of players to join in .
Andrew “Sonny” Riordan(1918-2007). Fiddler from Ballinahulla. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe. Often played with flute player Mick Cronin of Reaboy.Had a huge store of unusual polkas and slides and often played with Julia Clifford and Bridgie Kelliher in his later life
Michael Scanlan. Piper “whose home was at the Ivy Bridge, a mile or so from Castleisland… a very good piper, according to Richard O’Sullivan of Chicago, who knew him well in the seventies of the last century [i.e., 1870s]… ‘Mick’ Scanlan… was blind, but he travelled all over with his son ‘Andy’ as his guide and dancer to his music.” From Francis O’Neill’s “Irish Minstrels and Musicians” (1913).
Anne Sheehy.See Anne McAuliffe (née Sheehy).
John Spillane. Knockrour, Scartaglin
John Spillane was a fiddle player and pupil of Pádraig O Keeffe . A neighbour of Mikey Duggan’s and close in age . He emigrated to London but returned on holidays often and rumours exist of a tape recorded in Mikey Duggan’s house during one such visit . John is credited as a consultant on Alan Ward’s companion booklet Sliabh Luachra from 1977 which accompanied the release of the LP records .John was also interview by Máire O Keeffe for her radio programme.
Timmy Spillane, Gortglass, Scartaglin
Timmy was born in 1908 in Co Kerry . A popular box player in the area and much in demand to play for weddings and parties . He was a playing partner of Oireachtas winner Jerry McCarthy of Gortglass and recordings by Radio Eireann exist of Timmy playing and also a tape made in Gortglass . On the Bryan O Leary / Colm Guilfoyle recording WhereThe Bog Is you will find Timmy Spillanes which they found in an Archive recording of Timmy Spillane .
Maida Sugrue, née McQuinn (b.1933). Fiddler, singer and songwriter from a musical family in Ballymacelligott. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe. Emigrated to Chicago in 1952; played and sang in various bands in Chicago area, including with Cuz Teahan (q.v.)and two other fiddlers, Úna McGlew and Mary McDonagh. Recorded album of songs, “An Irish Country Girl” (1985); also featured on two tracks of the compilation album “Traditional Irish Music In America: Chicago” (2001). Visited Castleisland and played at Patrick O’Keeffe Festival in 2015.
Johnny Sullivan. Accordion player from Knocknagullane, on the Cork side of Rathmore. He played a 2-reed two-row accordion, one of three local small farmers who all played small boxes, the others being Jack Dennehy and Joe Conway.
Dan Sweeney.Accordion player from Tuar Mór, near Kilcummin, brother of Jack Sweeney.
Jack Sweeney(?-1993). Melodeon player from Tuar Mór, near Kilcummin. Played for sets in Tuar Mór Dance Hall with Jackie Fleming, joined occasionally by Johnny O’Leary, Denis Murphy and Mick O’Mahony. From 1926 to 1934 it was the only place in Kerry to hold all-night dances; eventually it was raided and shut down by the clergy and Gardai.
Din Tarrant (1876-1951). Fiddler from Ballydesmond, regarded as a pivotal influence in the development of the Sliabh Luachra style in the 1890s. Learned music from Tadhg Buckley (“Taidhgín an Asail”). Much in demand for dances, often with Pádraig O’Keeffe and Tom Billy Murphy; had a great store of polkas in particular, many of which are still played today with his name attached. Played for the Gaelic League in London at the turn of the 19th century and may have introduced the Kerry polkas which still form part of the old London Irish dance hall repertoire. His brother Dan Tarrant later became the Mayor of Camberwell; Dan’s London-born sons Richie and Paddy Tarrant both played fiddle in Frank Lee’s Tara Céilídh Band. Another nephew was Denis Doody, from Ballinahulla, Ballydesmond.
P J Teahan (b.1962). Bouzouki and guitar player, singer and composer from Castleisland.Veteran of the Kerry traditional session scene; the Cibeal festival in Kenmare (1980s) was a major influence in forming love of the Arts . Founder member and guiding light of World Fiddle Day Scartaglin and the associated “Handed Down” lecture/recital series for which he was awarded the Dan O Connell Memorial award in 2019. Has worked extensively on the development and gathering of Archive materials for the Handed Down Sliabh Luachra Archive which has won 3 awards .
Terry “Cuz” Teahan (1905-1989). Accordion, melodeon and concertina player and composer, from Glountane. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe. Emigrated to America in 1928. Made frequent return visits to Scartaglin Féile Cheoil. His music is collected in his book “The Road to Glountane” (1980) and also in “Sliabh Luachra on Parade” by Paul DeLoughery. Recordings include “Terry Teahan and Gene Kelly: Old Time Irish Music in America” (1977) and several tracks on the compilation album “Traditional Irish Music in America: Chicago” (2001).
Connie Walsh. Fiddler from Lisheen, a neighbour of the “Waiver” Murphys. He played for the sets. Emigrated to America.
Philip Walsh. Fiddler from Sliabh Maol, near Lisheen; late 19th/early 20th century. Though blind, he was known as a travelling musician. Source of many tunes in the Sliabh Luachra repertoire (some named for him, e.g., “Walsh’s Hornpipe” and “Walsh’s Reel”). Some of his tunes are printed in Breandán Breathnach’s collection “Ceol Rince na hÉireann”: see no. 70 in vol. 1, and no.s 32, 33 and 312 in vol. 2.
Peg Warren. Concertina player from Maulykeavane. Johnny O’Leary learned tunes from her.
Inishboffin and Kilflynn Co Kerry
Seán is regarded as one of the top fiddle players in the area where he has settled since the 1990’s . He has a huge and varied repertoire and is known for his tone . He has played for many years with Mick Culloty and has anchored the lower bar session at World Fiddle Day in Scartaglin since 2013 always drawing great musicians.