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.
Paddy Barrett. (Accordion) From Curraduff, Newmarket.
Paddy cycled back to Padraig O’Keeffe for music lessons from Newmarket. Played at the Stella and O’Brien’s Hall in Newmarket and at all the local musical events like house dances, weddings. Etc. A very popular musician in his own locality, he died in Jan., 2008, aged 82yrs.
Johnny Mickey Barry (Concertina) Born Tooreendarby, Newmarket.
Also played a few tunes on the fiddle. Picked up some music from Tom Billy who was giving lessons to a neighbour. A mentor of a young Timmy Connors and influential with other musicians, incl, Jackie Daly. He died in 1981 at 85 yrs. of age. There are great tunes played carrying his name in the Sliabh Luachra area .
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.
Denis Paud Brosnan. Currow/Scartaglin Co Kerry
Denis Paud Brosnan like his stepbrother John the Tailor Brosnan was another huge influential figure in the area . A fine singer and songwriter who songs were sang by others with “ The Scartaglin Anthem “ being particularly popular having been heard in the Tops of the Town competition in the early seventies in Castleisland . Recording of Denis Paud Brosnan have been generously donated to the Handed Down Sliabh Luachra Archive by Gina McElligott and these were made by Mattie Joe Shéamais of RnG during a weekend of the Scartaglin Féile Cheoil.
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.
Peter Browne. 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.
Dave Buckley Barrow, Tralee, Co Kerry
Singer/Composer and guitarist Dave Buckley originally from Coolnagearagh Scartaglin continues the music tradition of his mother’s family the Davy O’Connors of Dromulton . Strongly influenced by his uncle Francie Davy a fine Scartaglin fiddler R.I.P .Dave has played in groups for many years and formed the popular Flight of Earls group in the eighties He has CDs released and many of his own songs reflect the area and musical memories of his youth . One such song Dan Connells Bar can be heard regularly at sessions in Sliabh Luachra
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.
Dan Canty. Lyreacrompane Co Kerry ( b. 1912 )
Dan was a self taught accordion player who was a master at listening to tunes and playing them after , an art known as “ learning by Air “ .Jimmy Shand was a major influence.In 1947 in partnership with his brother in law he opened a dancehall in Knocknagoshel and Dan played in the resident house band for dances . He shared his musical talent with many locals in Lyre inspiring them to become musicians. .Music from Dan playing with John Joe O Connell on fiddle in 1969 in Killaly Castleisland .has been donated to the Archive .
Jim Carmody (Fiddle). 1914-1998. Lived all his life in Lyrenague, Rockchapel. No formal lessons. A self-taught, fine fiddle player. Played locally at wren dances, strawings, house dances etc., and at weddings when they were held at home. His son Timmy plays the accordion. Jim’s brother, Timmy, was a great concertina player.
Timmy Carmody. (Accordion) Lyreanegue, Rockchapel. Timmy was first introduced to music by his father, fiddle player Jim Carmody, An accomplished accordion player, still playing great music. Fairly regular at Scully’s session.
Tom Carroll. (Fiddle). Tom was born in Milleen, Rockchapel in 1923, but moved to Kiskeam when he got married. Played at all the local events and in later years was a regular at Scully’s session. Had some unusual tunes which he probably got from Daniel(Saucepan) Hartnett when he was a boy in Rockchapel. He died in 2015.
Liam Cashman. (Accordion). Born in Knocknamuckla, Kiskeam in 1950. He was taught by his mother and father, Jimmy and Nellie, nee Angland, both of whom were pupils of Tom Billy and John Linehan. Lives in Middleton.
Patrick Cashman. (Accordion) Born Derrygallon, near Kanturk. Self taught, his parents bought an accordion for him when he was a boy and he took to it naturally. He was also a fine singer. He played with many local musicians, including his friend and neighbour fiddle player and composer, John Walsh. Involved in the famous ‘stage’ in Knocknacolan, he played with the Duhallow and Seán Lynch Céilí Bands. He died in his 50s in 1987
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.
Cathy Cook Ballydehob, Co. Cork
Fiddler from the UK who has lived in West Cork for many years.A regular visitor to Sliabh Luachra and can be found at most sessions with her fiddle . Influenced by the playing of Gerry Harrington , she has a large repertoire of polkas , slides and hornpipes. She also plays box sometimes.
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.
Timmy Connors. Timmy ( Connors) O Connor Accordion; Composer) Born in 1935 in Tooreendarby, he had no formal teacher but was influenced by neighbouring musicians like Johnny Mickey Barry, Jack Keane, Paul Linehan and others. He played with the Shandrum Céilí Band and the Duhallow Céilí Band and recorded two CDs with the Monks of the Screw. He recorded one solo CD, ‘As it was in Tooreendarby’. A founding member of the long running Monday night session at Scullys, a regular at the Comhaltas Seisiún in Rockchapel and a great repository of old music. His music has taken him to many European countries and the U.S.A., and he is still going strong in his 85th yr.
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.
D.D. Cronin. (Fiddle).Born Glenamuckla W., Newmarket, 1917.Pupil of Padraig O’Keeffe. Played fiddle and saxophone in Clamper Hall, Keelnahulla Hall, etc, in the 1940s. Played in Dan O’Connels in Knocknagree in the ‘70s and ‘80s.His son, John, is an accordion player. Died 1990.
Humphrey Cronin. Currow, Co Kerry
Currow man and fiddle player, Humphrey Cronin’s musical talents were, like so many of his generation, well hidden.
Through no fault of their own many players of a generation before the music became ‘box office’ just didn’t show any outward signs of inward musical grace.
Nowadays, people walk around with pipes, fiddles and bodhráns and the like strapped onto them and kind of declaring ‘I’m a musician’ to the world.
In Humphrey’s time the stage simply wasn’t there and there was nothing to play for and no encouragement and less applause.
By accident I met him outside Brennan’s Bar on Killarney Road one day after a late night at his cousin Anthony’s and we went in.
Sean Brennan found a fiddle and showed it to us and wondered if we knew who owned it.
We didn’t but Humphrey’s talent emerged and I thought of the lines of ‘The Touch of the Master’s Hand’ as he, light as a feather, coaxed a couple of handsome polkas from the bow, the fingers and the strings.
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.
John Cronin. (Accordion, Banjo and Guitar). Born 1946 in Glenamuckla W., Newmarket. Learned his music from his father, fiddle player D.D. Cronin, and other local musicians. Played with The Glenside Folk and recorded a CD with Daithi Kearney. He has broadcast on radio and T.V. and has been playing at a long-running session in Middleton every Tuesday night since 1997.
Maureen McSweeney Cronin. Lr Dromulton, Currow
Maureen was a fiddle player and a pupil of Pádraig O Keeffe’s. Played locally at home or for neighbours as was the case in those days when marriage and children curtailed our female fiddle players from being as well known as the men.
Maureen’s family sponsored snacks for all who took part in World Fiddle Day celebrations in Scartaglin 2014
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.
Siobhan & Lisa Cronin. The Cronin sisters are from Kiskeam, Co Cork. Siobhan learnt banjo from the accordion player Willie Larkin and Lisa has learnt her accordion from Bryan O’Leary. In their early days they were great fans Johnny O’Leary and attended the Friday nights in Dan Connells. They are regular players at Scully’s Bar, Newmarket and have also played at the Handed Down Series. Both Siobhan and Lisa say they are influenced by the playing of Paudy Scully, Timmy O’Connor, Raymond O’Sullivan, John Walsh and Bryan O’Leary.
Joan Crowley. Kenmare, Co Kerry (1923-2017)
Fiddle player Joan learnt to play fiddle from Minella Donovan in Kenmare from an early age. In the 1940’s she played in many Ceilí bands with local musicians like Mick Tangney, Timmy Creedon and Joe O Neill.Following her marriage to boxplayer Con Crowley she worked and played music in their pub Crowley’s Bar for over 60 years Joan favoured the graceful style of Sliabh Luachra players like Denis Murphy and Pádraig O Keeffe and in doing so influenced young players like Joe Thoma and Christy O’Leary and later Gerry Harrington.In the late seventies and eighties Crowley’s Bar was to become famous for good music with the likes of Jackie Daly often holding court there to huge crowds . Joan Crowley’s fiddle duets with Joe Thoma were captured on the “Up The Track ” Cassette recording . Mrs Crowley’s influences still is evident in Kenmare and her playing formed part of the 2018 fiddle recital at World Fiddle Day Scartaglin.
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.
Con Curtin. Brosna Co Kerry (1927 – 2009)
Con Curtin was a well known fiddle player and pupil of Pádraig O Keeffe from Ahane Brosna Co. Kerry.He started on the fiddle at nine years old learning by ear from his father first before getting lessons from Pádraig Ó Keeffe. He emigrated to London in the fifties and entered the pub trade and ran a number of well known pubs which gained a huge reputation for Irish music. Con is featured on the LP Paddy in the Smoke and returned each year for the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil . He returned permanently in 1978 and opened a pub in Brosna which became a great haunt for visiting musicians.There is now a successful festival named in his honour held each July.
Dan Curtin. Tournafulla Co Limerick
A great fiddle player bornin1964, his first music teacher was Celia O’Regan from Castleisland. He later got tuition from Donal De Barra and Patrick Moloney. Recorded two CDs with The Monks of the Screw. Plays at sessions, etc, in the locality and still lives in Tournafulla, Co. Limerick.
Darragh Curtin Brosna, Co. Kerry
One of the finest fiddle players in the area and holder of many titles including the Oireachtas Senior fiddle and he became the first Kerry winner of the highly prestigious Fiddler of Dooney competition.
And he is also the holder of an Oireachtas Senior Fiddle title. The latter an honour he earned a century after Patrick O’Keeffe won that title in Killarney in 1914.
Paddy Cronin stands out in Darragh’s estimation for, not alone, his mastery of his own Sliabh Luachra music but also for how he adapted to the Sligo style of fiddling.
Donal Culllinane Fiddler and music teacher from Cordal, Castleisland. Born into a family steeped in traditional Irish music. Learned from Paddy Jones and Nicky McAuliffe, and various teachers at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy. Performed with Siamsa Tíre for many years. Completed the CCÉ Music Teaching Diploma in 2011. Influenced by a broad range of composers from Paddy Fahey to Liz Carroll. Along with the music of Sliabh Luachra, he now has a particular interest in the East Clare and East Galway styles of fiddle playing.
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.
John Daly Burnfort, Co. Cork
Born in Burnfort, near Mallow in Co. Cork in 1963, John Daly first learned the fiddle at age 12 from Limerick music teacher, Sean O’ Carroll. John’s father a Gneeveguilla native introduced John to Kerry fiddle player Johnny Cronin by his father in the 80’s, and around the same time became interested in the playing of Andy McGann from New York and Longford man Paddy Reynolds.In the late 80’s and early 90’s John became aware of Shetland fiddle master, Willie Hunter, who soon became his strongest influence in the playing of Scottish and Shetland slow airs. He is a regular visitor to Sliabh Luachra and recent recorded a duet .fiddle CD with Aidan Connolly.
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.
Mary Donegan. Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry
Mary Donegan, who grew up in Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry, started learning the tin whistle from Nicky McAuliffe when she was in primary school. She continued to attend his classes as an adult, and it was he who taught her many of the tunes composed by her cousin, Michael Dwyer, one of the legendary family of musicians from Beara in West Cork. In addition to this significant familial musical influence, Mary has developed a keen interest in the Sliabh Luachra tradition, with Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly being sources of inspiration, as well as sessions in Scully’s of Newmarket. In recent years, she has taken up the fiddle, and attends regularly at events such as World Fiddle Day in Scartaglin.
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.
Patrick Downey, Knocknagoshel.
For lightness of touch and quality of whistle music it was hard to top Knocknagoshel man the late Patrick Downey.
Patrick Downey often stepped up onto the backs of lorries during the time of the Kerry and Munster fleadhanna cheoil on the streets of Castleisland.
And he, more often than not, had to step back up when all the whistling fell silent to collect a winner’s medal.
Prevailed upon one day in Sheila Prendiville’s Bar and Grocery in Castleisland – after a good election day for Dick Spring, Patrick reached for his inside coat pocket and produced the whistle – and a truly magical afternoon ensued.
Up to his untimely passing he used to play occasionally at Tig Aggie’s – local rambling house in the Knockbrack area of Knocknagoshel.
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.
Stanley Doyle Ballinacourty, Annascaul, Co Kerry
A regular visitor to Scartaglin Féile Cheoil and winner of the Pádraig O Keeffe Cup for senior fiddle in 1971 . This outstanding fiddle player got his first fiddle from North Africa sent by his brother Tom, a US soldier serving there . Stanley learnt the fiddle from his uncle Mick Hennessy in Castlegregory and Seán Keane from Annascaul and also his mother was a great believer in Irish Culture Stanley emigrated to the USA in 1958 spending time in Springfield Mass before moving on to Chicago where he met and married Peg Kavanagh of Ventry.
In 1979 he said “ I suppose I learnt my best music from Denis Murphy, Mikey Duggan, John O Leary and Jimmy Doyle of Sliabh Luachra “.
A tragic drowning accident in 1986 returning home one night cost Stanley his life and his music was a great loss to Co Kerry in general . His brother Jack Doyle was a highly regarded boxplayer and father of Kerry football legend Tommy Doyle.
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.
John Drew. (Mandocello, Guitar) Born Newmarket 1955. Learned melodeon with Mrs. Fitzpatrick when very young. Took up guitar and joined Scully’s Monday night sessions. Transferred to mandocello/bouzouki. Recorded with Monks of the Screw, Dan Herlihy and Tim Browne. Lives in Burnfort now
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.
Caoimhe Flannery Rockchapel, Co. Cork
Fiddle player Caoimhe Flannery is one of the great young players currently in Sliabh Luachra . She has had lessons with Melanie Murphy and Matt Cranitch and has a huge selection of Sliabh Luachra tunes . She has won many titles nationally and is a frequent visitor to Scartaglin where she has shared the stage with Jackie Daly and others . A great fiddle player and a great player of slow airs.
Tom Fleming Muingbhathá Castleisland Co Kerry
A legend among B and C accordion players everywhere Tom Fleming is a master on the accordion and released many Cassettes of high quality during the eighties and nineties . Also known as a composer with reels of his being recorded by Liz Carroll , Nathan Gourley and others . Tom played for many years with the Desmond Céili Band before going on to forge a solo career . Used to play at the Sunday night session in the Poorhouse Bar in Castleisland in the eighties and if you are lucky he can be heard on occasions playing in sessions locally all the time.
Tom Fleming Scartaglin
Tom Fleming from Scartaglin served on the Scartaglin Féile Cheoil and committee from 1968 till it’s demise in the early 2000’s . A former TD , county council representative he served his community with distinction and his legacy will always be praised when they enjoy events at the Sliabh Luachra Heritage Centre which he played a major part in developing. Tom is an avid collector and authority on Sliabh Luachra music and musicians and his pub was always associated with music down through the decades . Tom has made an enormous contribution to this Archive verifying details and sharing info and photos and is a consultant to the Handed Down Lecture series as well.
Patrick Fleming. Patrick is an accordion player from Boherbue Co Cork. His first taste of music would have come from hearing his father Michael playing accordion at home. He visited Dan Connell’s in Knocknagree religiously and loved dancing to and playing with Johnny O’Leary and Mikey Duggan. He learned lots of his tunes from Timmy Connors and Patrick O’Connor but also got plenty of music from the likes of Dan Herlihy, Maurice O’Keeffe, Dan Jerimiah O’Connor, Dan O’Keeffe, Tom Carroll, Denis McMahon, Raymond O’Sullivan, Paddy Jones and many other who he played with often at his family’s Rambling House in Boherbue. He travelled all over the world playing in Irish traditional dance shows. He now enjoys music with his fiddle playing wife Maria Cotter and they both are regular visitors to the session in Scullys Bar, Newmarket.
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.
Anne Garrett. Kenmare Co Kerry
I became involved in Irish music and in particular Sliabh Luachra in mid- life and it was a revelation.In the beginning I took lessons from Seàn Garvey;he presented the tradition with such erudition and reverence; I was completely hooked.I learned tunes from cds listening to all the greats, Julia Clifford,Maurice O Keeffe,Jackie Daly, Matt Cranitch Seamus Creagh to name but a few.More locally in Kenmare I am addicted to sessions and have learned so much from Noreen o Shea , Kenmare.
There is a wonderful sense of life and celebration in Sliabh Luachra music:it makes me feel connected , grounded and transcended and I am privileged to be able to participate in it all.
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.
Colm Guilfoyle Kilcummin, Co Kerry
Colm is a native of Kilcummin, in the heart of Sliabh Luachra. He considers himself lucky to come from a musical family, being introduced to music from an early age. Early influences on Colm were his mother Geraldine and aunts Noreen and Kathleen (RIP) who began to teach him the local tunes. It was from teacher Padraig Buckley that Colm developed a keen interest in flute and whistle music . Padraig introduced him to a variety of regional styles while maintaining ties with the music of Sliabh Luachra.It was through his friendship with the late Sliabh Luachra accordion player Stephen Carroll that Colm became submerged in the music of the locality. Influenced by recordings of the aforementioned fiddle and accordion legends, and living local musicians such as Joe O Sullivan, Jimmy Doyle, Paudie O Connor etc, Colm became engrossed in Sliabh Luachra Music. He recorded a fine CD with Bryan O Leary.
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).
Dan Hartnett. (Fiddle). Music teacher and musician, born in Knockanare, Tournafulla in 1895. He had some unusual tunes and was influential in his own locality. He received some tuition himself for thirteen weeks in Newcastlewest at a cost of £2-13s-6d. Many of his tunes are still played today in Sliabh Luachra.
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”.
Con Herbert Con was born in Cloncon, Killeedy, Co. Limerick.
He learned his first tunes fromTadhg Collins, Ballykenny on a Hohner Accordion given to him by his brother Seán.Other early influences were accordion players Séamas Danagher and Willie Laceyand fiddle teacher Martin Ward from Tournafulla As a young musician house parties and Hunting the ‘Wran’ provided opportunities to meet and play with other musicians. From late 70s Con frequented Dan O’Connell’s, Knocknagree andScully’s Newmarket. While teaching in Mallow he was introduced to teaching music in the local Comhaltas Branch by Pat Goulding, a piper who was a native of Cullen. As a teacher in Freemount Con introduced Traditional music as part of the school curriculum which was the foundation of the success of Craobh Chrónáin CCE which was founded in 1983. He has spent many years teaching music in Freemount and his native Killeedy successfully participated in Fleadhanna Cheoil over the past 40 years. He was a member of the Allow Ceili Band. He also plays and teaches concertina.
Dan Jas. Herlihy. (Accordion).Born in Ballydesmond in 1942. Early tuition from his grandmother Kate, a concertina player, his mother Molly, a fiddle player, and Jack O’Connell of Lighthouse was also a big influence. Emigrated to London 1960 and played with Michael Gorman, Raymond Roland and many more great players. Returned home 1977 and played at all the sessions,féiles and festivals around the locality. He recorded a cassette tape,’Traditional Music from Sliabh Luachra’, 3 CDs and a DVD: ‘The night of the Fair’; ‘The Ballydesmond Polka’; and ‘The Millstream’. The DVD was also called ‘The Millstream’. He also published two music books: ‘Sliabh Luachra Music Masters, Vols. I and II’. He spent eight years collecting music and collected c. 900 tunes. He also taught music for about 10 yrs. in Ballydesmond. He died in 2019
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.”
Mag (Browne) Horan. Mullen Scartaglin
Mag was a fiddle player and pupil of Pádraig O Keeffe’s .She got lessons as he made his way from Glountane to his other pupils in Mullen Scartaglin and farther on.She married her husband Jerry and moved nearer to Castleisland at Bawnaskehy..
Mag was hugely involved in the Scartaglin Féile Cheoil and she shared her O Keeffe manuscripts and tunes with any young players who were interested. Her son Dermot continued her work with Scartaglin Féile Cheoil after her passing.
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.
Jack Keane. (Accordion) Born Knocknagoshel in 1897. Came to live in Newmarket in the early 1920s. Played at house dances and other musical occasions, most notably at the ‘stage’ in the Commons. A big influence on the young Timmy Connors. Died March 1995, aged 97 yrs.
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.
Martin Kelliher. Clounagh, Castleisland Co Kerry
Martin Kelliher was another Castleisland fiddle player of the generation which emerged from an ‘apprenticeship’ served at house dances, American wakes and stations.
Many of the generation rarely played outside their own circle of neighbours and friends and would never be caught playing in a pub.
In any case music was an unwelcome intrusion in the world of public houses in their time.
As a neighbour of Pats Broderick, Martin often played in the latter years of his life at The Shoemaker’s alongside the likes of Johnny Brosnan and Jack Regan and is fondly remembered for his tapping the fiddle on its back at the end of a tune.
Mike Kenny. Castleisland, Co Kerry
Mike Kenny had many guises, Artist,Sculptor,Musician, Local Historian and first Chairman of the Patrick O’Keeffe festival for many years. Hugely popular and great company, he first came into the spotlight in 1973 as a singer/guitarist with the local a Youth Club who had success in a Ballad competition in Killarney . Mike uniquely played a right handed guitar upside down as he was left handed.College years brought him into contact with Planxty and the huge folk and trad revival of that era left a huge impression on him for the rest of his life . In 1981 as a student he was commissioned to do the Pádraig Ó Keeffe memorial bust for Scartaglin which was unveiled in 1983 .This led to a total fascination with Sliabh Luachra music and Mike was ever present at the Poorhouse Bar and Shoemaker Bar music sessions in the eighties in what was a golden era for the pupils of Pádraig O Keeffe still playing around Castleisland. Mike along with others started the Patrick O’Keeffe Festival in 1993 which is still going strong. He went on to do two more famous memorial Sculpture commissions of Johnny O Leary and Seán O Riada . Sadly at the young age of 55 after a short illness he passed away in August 2011 leaving a huge void in the Arts, music and historical communities in Castleisland. . His legacy and memory will always be kept alive still whenever musicians who knew him meet.
Tim Kerins Castlemaine, Co Kerry
Fiddler Tim Kerins is a veteran of sessions in Co Kerry since the eighties . He was a regular attendee at the Poorhouse Bar session in Castleisland in the early eighties first on mandolin and then fiddle as he picked up tunes from Denis McMahon and others. He plays regularly in Killarney with John Brosnan these days and has a huge repertoire of local tunes but also a lot of Paddy Cronin favourites as well.
Richie Kingston. Lisheenbawn, Castleisland. Co Kerry
Richie Kingston was a box player of local renown and he played in many a pub session in the Castleisland area along with his neighbours and friends, Ned and Dermot Flynn. He was a first cousin of Denis McMaon fiddle and they had a Thurs night session in the Poorhouse Bar Castleisland in the eighties which was very popular.He also entered the pub trade for a while and ran the famed Charlie Horan’s Bar in Castleisland and later The Village Inn in Currans which held music sessions on a Thursday night .He is remembered as a fine player with a ‘nice gentle touch’ by Pats Broderick proprietor of the Shoemaker’s Inn where the Tuesday night sessions were truly legendary.
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.
Paul Linehan (Accordion) Lived in Tooreendarby for a while before moving to Kiskeam. Played with lots of good musicians from that side of the country incl. Denis Murphy. In great demand for house dances, etc. Emigrated to U.S.A. in the late 1950’s.
Sr. Loyola O’Connell was born in Shanagolden in 1916. She entered the Presentation Novitiate in 1934. Her first profession took place in 1936
after which she came to Castleisland Convent. She studied music and got her Licentiate from the London College of Music. She was a gifted musician and a gifted teacher of Piano and Violin. She taught music for many years in Castleisland.
In 1952, a request for volunteers for a new foundation in New Zealand was sent out by the Central Leader of the congregation. Sr. Loyola,in her
great generosity, decided to volunteer for the new foundation abroad. Her offer was accepted and she left for the new mission in 1952. Sr. Loyola came back to Castleisland in 1972 and again resumed her good work. She taught many students and adults who, like herself, later went on to achieve a Licentiate from the London College of music. Many of her students were happy to specialise in music as a chosen career. Jerry McCarthy was one of those who added to the gifts and talents of the Sliabh Luachra area. Sr. Loyola passed away on the first of February, 1996, may she rest in peace.
Mick Lucey. (Accordion). Mick was born in 1924 in Ballyduane, Newmarket. He got his first accordion in 1945 at a cost of £4-10s. Emigrated to Oregon in 1949 where he was much in demand for dances, etc. in the towns around the sheep farms. Bought a farm and returned home in the late ‘50s. Was an important part of the local music scene until he went back to the States in the late’60s. Got married and with his two daughters played all over California. A great man for recitations and songs, he died in 2016.
Seán Lynch. (Fiddle). Born in Ballydaly in 1934 but moved to Knocknacolan, Kanturk, at a young age. Played at the ‘stage’ in Knocknacolan with Jim O’Keeffe and a young Jackie Daly and had his own Céilí Band at one time. The Lynches were a musical family and Seán was taught by his father. He lives in Mallow.
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.
Ciaran Mac Mathuna (1925-2009). Ciaran was a Limerick city man strongly influenced by his father Seamus in his love of the Irish language, literature and music. After working for the Placenames commission he joined Radio Eireann in 1955 and over the following 50 years established himself as a central figure in the revival of Traditional Irish music through his radio and TV broadcasts. Kerry, and Sliabh Luachra in particular, was one of his first trips in 1955 and there he made lasting friendships with Denis and Julia Murphy, Padraig O Keeffe and Johnny O Leary. Although he was associated with Clare and Galway, Ciaran has a special love and appreciation of the Sliabh Luachra tradition, both the dance music of slides and polkas and the rich local poetic legacy of the 17-19th century. Ciaran retained this close bond with Kerry music, recording in Sliabh Luachra, Jimmy O Brien’s Killarney and abroad in the US with Kerry musicians who had emigrated there including Denis Murphy, Paddy & Johnny Cronin and Gerry McCarthy. One of his last and most enjoyable trips to the US was to the Seamus Connolly Gaelic Roots festival in the company of Johnny O Leary and Paddy Cronin, when he was proud to witness the recognition that the Sliabh Luachra musical heritage so richly deserved.
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.
Billy Mahoney. (Fiddle). Newmarket Co Cork
Billy was a good fiddle player with a very sweet touch. He was born, reared and lived all his life in Taur, Newmarket. Played at all the local country events.
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).
Jerh. Dan (Mac) McAuliffe. (Accordion). A good lively accordion player, born and reared in Glenlara, where he picked up his music from his mother, Elly Dan Mac, nee. Prendeville, a concertina player. Also a good dancer, he had a wealth of old dances and sets some of which were collected by Larry Lynch and published in his ‘Set Dances of Ireland’
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).
Pat (Mac) McAuliffe. (Tin Whistle; Piccolo; Singer). Self-taught, Pat was a shopkeeper and co-owner of the Emerald Ballroom at the West End, Boherbue. He was born in 1924. He played tin whistle and piccolo and was the lead vocalist with the Duhallow Céilí Band. He also played saxophone with The Emerald Dance Band, the house band in the Emerald Ballroom. A regular for many years at the Monday sessions at Scullys. He died in 1994.
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. Denis McMahon, Ballyhar, Killarney, Co. Kerry and formerly of Churchtown, Castleisland died peacefully at home in Ballyhar on the 24th of August 2018.
Denis McMahon was a giant of the music of Sliabh Luachra and while he may be better remembered as a fiddle player, he was just as gifted on the accordion. He was one of the generation of the people who brought the culture and music of the area safely from the post Patrick O’Keeffe and Denis Murphy era to where it is today. Ever cheerful and always harbouring a joke or a yarn, Denis was known the length and breadth of the country as a fine exponent of the music of his native area and in later years as ‘The Man with The Hat.Probably, his most important and insightful involvement with the world of radio came as one of the many interviewees of Peter Browne during his work which became The Last of the Fiddle Masters – the four-part RTÉ Radio One documentary on the life and music of Patrick O’Keeffe. Denis McMahon was also a member of the Brosna Céilí Band at the height of its popularity and success.In 1972 the band won the All-Ireland title at the fleadh cheoil in Listowel.Denis was presented with an award for his dedication to the music of Sliabh Luachra at the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival by Peter Browne in 2010.
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 .
Conor Moriarty. Kilcummin, Co. Kerry
Conor Moriarty is an all Ireland Champion accordion and melodeon player steeped in the musical traditions of his native Sliabh Luachra. Conor began his musical journey at the tender age of 7 learning from many of the great local musicians such as John Brosnan and Jimmy Doyle just to mention a few. In 2009, he became all Ireland 10 key melodeon champion and the following year he was crowned with the much coveted all Ireland senior accordion title. A fantastic player with impeccable rhythm and timing , he is now passing on his skills to young musicians as a teacher .He has appeared on a few CDs and played in some great bands and combinations.
Terry Moylan… was born in 1949 in Dublin. In the early 1960s he was attracted to traditional song and in 1968, getting more involved in traditional music, he started to learn the uilleann pipes, taking lessons from Leo Rowsome. Joining Na Píobairí Uilleann led to him becoming a friend of Breandán Breathnach. In 1982 he attended the first set-dance workshop run at the Willie Clancy summer school, where he met Johnny O’Leary. He went on to teach set-dancing at the school, to found the set-dance group Brooks Academy in Dublin, and to publish the first instruction manuals for set-dancing. After Breathnach’s death 1985 his friends and colleagues got together to see if his many uncompleted projects could be finished. One of these was a projected collection of the music of Johnny O’Leary and this was entrusted to Terry for completion. He worked on it for several years, recording Johnny himself and collecting recordings from others, and the collection – Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra, Dance Music from the Cork/Kerry Border – was finally published, by The Lilliput Press, in 1994. A second edition, containing additional material, was published in 2014.
Con Moynihan Born 16-12-1967.
Grew up in a musical family where his father Paddy played the accordion, sister Eileen played whistle and sister Jane played accordion. Taught by Nicky McAulliffe from a young age and competed at local and Munster Fleadh Ceol competitions. Apart from music in the house every Sunday after Mass, there were regular visits to Dan O’Connell’s pub in Knocknagree (just 3 miles away), where he would meet and play with Johnny O’Leary as well as a number of fiddle players such as Mickey Duggan, Willie and Patrick O’Connell, Ger Collins, Paudie Gleeson, Matt Crannitch, Connie O’Connell, Denis McMahon and others. Scartaglin Fleadh Ceoil was an important annual event to compete in the underage fiddle competitions and meet other fiddle player such as Jerry McCarthy, Con Curtin and many others. The LP’s of local fiddle heros were constantly playing in the house he grew up in. These included The Star above the Garter by Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford (1969), Kerry Own Paddy Cronin (1977) and Cronin and Burke featuring Johnny Cronin and Joe Banjo Burke (1977) Con lived in Clare for a few years in the mid 1990’s and met a number of fiddlers there who he still meets regularly. He learnt a lot of music in Clare also. In the 1990’s Con was playing a lot of Music with Dan Herlihy from Ballydesmond and Denis O’Connor from Castleisland. He is featured in Dan Herlihy’s CD The Night of the Fair (1996). Con featured on a number of Radio programmes including Ceille House the Rolling Wave and appeared on a number of Television Programmes such as Geantrai, Sé Mo Laoch and Spillane an Fanaí. Con also met Cork Piper Jimmy Morrison in the 1990’s and played a lot of session with him and Nicky Urwin from Kenmare. Con is featured on Jimmy Morrison’s CD The Pipers Rest (2001). In 2003 Con launched a CD with banjo player Denis O’Connor, entitled Sunday after Mass. Con is also featured on his nephew Aidan Connolly’s CD entitled Be Off which was launched in 2016. Con now lives in Castleisland with his wife Frances and Children Andrew, Joanna and Deirdre. The children are carrying on the musical tradition as Joanna is playing fiddle and Deirdre is playing the concertina.
Paddy Moynihan. Paddy Moynihan. (1918-1989) Accordion Player from Gneeveguilla and Father of Con Moynihan (Fiddle player). Paddy’s grandmother was Johanna Cronin from Tureen near Knocknagree and she played the concertina. Paddy’s father Andrew played a bit on the concertina also. Paddy got his first accordion lesson from Gertie Daly from Gneeveguilla but after that was mostly self- taught. He struck up a great friendship with Mick ‘Dash’ O’Mahony an accordion player from the Quarry Cross about a mile from Gneeveguilla. (Mick sister Nellie was married to Pa Keane, who was a regular at Knocknagreee, Milltown Malbay and many music sessions besides.) Mick and Paddy played a lot of music at house dances etc before Mick emigrated to the UK and is laid to rest in Scotland. Paddy then played for a while with Johnny O’Leary at Thady Willie’s hall in Gneeveguilla as well as at dance halls at Laccagh Cross near Ballydesmond and a hall at John Richard’s cross near Scartaglin. Later in life Paddy always played at his house on Sunday’s after Mass and kept a keen ear and eye to all the traditional music programmes on Radio and Television and attended all the local Fleadh Ceol festivals.
Pádraig Moynihan Glenflesk, Co Kerry
A well known Sliabh Luachra box player who lives in Genflesk . Pádraig grew up becoming influenced by the playing of Johnny O Leary and Jimmy Doyle and he has a huge store of tunes in his repertoire . He has appeared on television and radio many times and he plays regularly around the Killarney area . He is a highly respected music teacher for many years and many of today’s young players learnt from him.
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.
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.
Deed Connie Murphy. (Fiddle; Saxophone). An accomplished fiddle player from High St., Newmarket. When he was young he took some lessons from Dan Roger O’Sullivan, a music teacher from Scarteen St. Deed also played the saxophone with the Roy Campbell Rhythm Orchestra.
Dan J Murphy. Knocknagoshel and Abbeyfeale
Dan Murphy from Knocknagoshel picked up the box playing locally before emigrating to Birmingham in the UK . After returning in early 1976 he opened the well named Fáilte Bar in Abbeyfeale and ran many successful gigs there attracting the cream of Irish Traditional musicians . This in turn prompted a huge interest in music in the locality which still thrives to this day and much credit must go to Dan and his family who all also play with great success. Dan was a regular at Scartaglin Féile Cheoil and would always play with Ned O’Connor at Fleming’s for Set Dancing . Polkas and slides carry Dan’s name and are a fitting memory to him .Dan died in 2015 .
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.
Donal Murphy. Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick
Donal hails from Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick and is highly regarded as one of Ireland’s finest button accordion masters . He took lessons with Donal De Barra after his family returned from Birmingham UK to Abbeyfeale. As the Murphys ran a great music pub with visiting musicians appearing regularly Donal had many influences but his father Dan’s native Kerry style was firmly embedded into his playing . The Sliabh Luachra area first witnessed Donal as he visited the Shoemakers Bar Castleisland regularly in the 1980’s where even then amongst the regulars like John Brosnan his playing stood out. Donal was one of the five founding members of the original Four Men and a Dog in 1990.He is also a member of 3 piece “Breaking Trad” with Niall Murphy (fiddle) & Mike Galvin (guitar/vocals) and released the same titled debut album in May 2015.
He was also a member of Sliabh Notes, alongside Matt Cranitch and Tommy O’Sullivan, they recorded three albums, ‘Sliabh Notes’, ‘Along Blackwaters Banks’ and ‘Gleanntan’.He released his Solo album “Happy Hour” in 2009 to critical acclaim.
Eilísh Murphy. Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick
Eilísh is an outstanding whistle and flute player from Abbeyfeale Co Limerick .She was a pupil of Nicky McAuliffe of Castleisland . As part of a very musical family whose father Dan a Kerryman played box her Sliabh Luachra influences can be heard in her powerful playing .
Eilis Murphy originally from Abbeyfeale but moved across the border to Rockchapel married to Patrick Mulcahy and I have 2 children Leah who is almost 4 and Daniel who is 2. My interest in Irish traditional music was from a very young age. I was one of the lucky ones, was born into a family full of music. My father played the accordion and my mother was an Irish dancing teacher, my brother Donal, Kevin and Sean all played so we couldn’t escape the music. I started playing tin whistle when I was 7 attending Templeglantine Comhaltas taught by Willie Larkin after a few years I progressed to the flute I attended Templeglantine but then I attended the one and only Nicky McAuliffe privately one to one in Rockchapel. My idols growing up was Frankie Kennedy RIP, Paul Roche from Stockton’s Wing and of course Matt Molloy. I have played sessions, concerts and ceilis all over Ireland and abroad. I owe my love of music to my parents Maureen and Dan Murphy and without their love and support I probably wouldn’t have had the same interest. Hopefully the interest in Irish music will continue on through the next generation of Murphys.
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.”
John Murphy, Ballinamona, Mallow 1911 – 2006
John (Seán/Jack) Murphy was born near Currow, Co. Kerry, in 1911 and, in keeping with the rest of the family, took an early interest in listening to, and playing, tradi- tional music. He soon mastered the accordion and, later on, played at many sessions and with many other well-known musicians – in- cluding, of course, his own broth- ers and sisters. When the Murphy family moved to Killavullen, near Mallow, in the 1920s, John moved with them. He eventually settled down in Ballinamona, also near Mallow. He constantly expanded on his wide repertoire of reels, jigs and hornpipes while never forget- ting the slides and polkas of Sliabh Luachra and of his youth. Throughout his long life he rarely missed an opportunity to play his accordion, either with his family or with his very many music-loving friends. Today, his daughters Sheila (accordion, tin whistle), Carmel (accordion, tin whistle) and Esther (concertina and tin-whistle) are talented exponents of tradi- tional music and song
Leah Murphy. Leah is a multi-instrumentalist and singer from Rathcoole in Co Cork. She learned fiddle from Emer Twomey and Alan Finn. Her education in Sliabh Luachra music started at thirteen when she started playing with Timmy O’Connor and Raymond O’Sullivan at the regular Monday night in Scully’s Bar, Newmarket. Recordings of Leah playing and singing feature on many of the annual Scullys Fest releases and is a regular performer at the festival and events in Sliabh Luachra. She has received many awards for her playing and singing including the Maurice O’Keeffe Perpetual Trophy for fiddle playing.
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”.
Michael Murphy, Killavullen, Mallow
1918 – 1994
Michael Murphy was born near Currow, Co Kerry. When he was nine years old, the Murphy family moved to Killavullen. Michael was the youngest of nine children, all of whom loved traditional Irish music (including song and dance) and most of whom played an instrument. Followed on this trend, Michael chose the mouthorgan as his instrument and he soon excelled on it. He went on, in later years, to become All-Ireland Champion mouthorgan player. He was very well- known in music circles throughout the country and never ceased to add to his huge repertoire of tunes. At family level he loved to gather with his sisters and brothers, often playing with them the Sliabh Luachra slides and polkas that they all had learned in their youth. His eldest sister, Nellie (Castleisland) played the concertina, his younger brother John (Ballinamona, Mallow) played the accordion, his sisters Hanna and Ettie and his brother Patie played the fiddle. Under Michael’s influence and that of John, who both travelled to music sessions and fleadhanna far and wide, the repertoire of tunes expanded over the years to include also a vast selection of jigs, reels and hornpipes,
Today, Michael’s son Pat Murphy (Bandon) and Michael’s daughter Ann Luddy (Mallow) on guitar and vocals, continue performing traditional music
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.
Neilus Murphy. (Fiddle). Born in Glounlahan, Ballydesmond in 1918. Lived most of his life in Scarteen St., Newmarket. He died in 1984. A pupil of Tom Billy, he was a regular at music sessions around Newmarket.
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.
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.
Diarmuid O’Brien. Glin, Co. Limerick
Diarmuid O’Brien hails from West Limerick, growing up in the townland of Glenagragra in the parish of Glin. Diarmuid is a relative of the late Martin Mulvihill, a composer and fiddler who spent most of his life in New York . Diarmuid was the winner of the young fiddler award at the first Patrick O’Keeffe festival in Castleisland serving notice of his great ability . He released an acclaimed CD in 2007 and firmly established himself as one of the finest fiddlers around . Sliabh Luachra fans have heard Diarmuid at World Fiddle Day Scartaglin over the past few years both solo and in concert where he played some great music.
Jimmy O’Brien. Kilcummin, Co. Kerry
One of Sliabh Luachra’s finest singers and figures Jimmy was born near Lyretough Kilcummin His uncle Paddy was a renowned singer who influenced him and he learned a lot of songs from him as a young lad. Jimny emigrated to New York but returned in 1961 to open his famous pub In Killarney. This became a famous house for Sliabh Luachra music and many radio programmes were recorded there . Jimmy is regarded as one of Sliabh Luachra’s greats and has recently retired from the pub business. A lovely version of Jimmy singing Sweet Kingswillams town has been donated to the Archive
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.
Denis O’Callaghan. (Fiddle) Born in Milleen, Rockchapel, 1951. A pupil of Daniel (Saucepan) Hartnett he plays regularly at Scully’s, Newmarket. His daughter, Leonora (b.1993), and son, Daniel (b.1997), are also fiddle players, pupils of Nicholas McAuliffe and Áine O’Connor.
Geraldine O’Callaghan. Freemount, Co. Cork
Fiddler, pianist, music researcher and music teacher from Freemount, County Cork. Learned from west Limerick musician Con Herbert; also much influenced by classic recordings of Pádraig O’Keeffe, Julia Clifford and Denis Murphy. Highly regarded as an interpreter of Sliabh Luachra music, and much else besides. Has 1st class honours B.Mus degree from UCC, where she received the Dόnal Gleeson award for outstanding performance; also has Masters in Ethnomusicology from UL. Classically trained on piano. A mainstay of the traditional music scene in Cork, she has also performed widely in Europe and North America; much sought after as performer and as teacher. Member of two All-Ireland winning Senior Céilí Bands, the Allow and the Shannon Vale. Numerous TV & radio appearances, and has guested on several CDs.
Michael O Callaghan. Castleisland, Co. Kerry
Michael O Callaghan was drummer,bandleader, founder and van driver for the Desmond Ceilí Band which started in 1957 and continued into the seventies. The band was hugely popular and featured all the famous musicians of the area , Denis Murphy , Nicky McAuliffe, Mikey Duggan,Tom Fleming are just some of the names and they played for Radio Eireann broadcasts many times . Michael later formed the Michael O Callaghan band and all his family were good singers and musicians.Michael was also on the Castleisland CCE organising team of the sixties who held huge Féile Cheoil events in Castleisland and staging the fiddle competition the Pádraig O Keeffe Cup.
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.
Jack O’Connell. (Fiddle) Born in Meendorcha (Lighthouse), Ballydesmond in 1906. He got fiddle lessons from both Tom Billy and Padraig O’Keeffe. A deep repository of old music which he shared unstintingly. Breandáin Breathnach published some of his tunes in his collections, A mentor of a young Dan Jas. Herlihy. He died in 1994.Patrick O’Connor. (Fiddle, Piano Accordion, Banjo Mandolin, Composer). Born in Maule, Boherbue in1922 and moved to Gneeves when he married in the ‘40s. He took some lessons from Padraig O’Keeffe but the main teacher was a Mr. Corbett. He was co-owner of the Emerald Ballroom in Boherbue and played piano accordion with The Emerald Dance Band. He played fiddle with the Duhallow Céilí Band and played for many years at the Rambling House in Lomanagh. He died in 2006.
John Joe O’Connell 1910 – 2005 Killaly Castleisland
John Joe was born on 05/02/1910 in Knocknagoum, O’Brennan, Ballymacelligott. His father Tom taught in Maugha N.S. and later in Nohoval N.S. John Joe then moved to the farm in Killaly.He bought his fiddle from a travelling musician and B.Dunne is scratched on the body of the fiddle.He was self-taught on the fiddle and tin whistle. When his friends Jim and Mattie O’Sullivan from Ballymacelligott and Dan Canty and Tom Doran from Lyreacrompane called for a session they played well into the night. Polkas and slides were firm favourites as were Miss McLeod’s reel. The master himself Pádraig O’Keeffe was a regular caller and would usually stay the night. Other greats to call were Willie and Patie O’Connell, Jerry McCarthy, Joe Cournane, Jerh Collins, Paddy Jones and Jackie Dan Jerry O Connor.
In the late 1960’s up and coming musicians Michael Mulcahy, Nicky McAuliffe and Tom Fleming all played with him.
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 Davy O’Connor Dromulton, Scartaglin
Another legendary fiddle figure of the area . Older than most of the well known O’Keeffe pupils but we think he was also a pupil of Pádraigs but we are not definite as he used to mention a nun at school who influenced him as a child . Used to play with Johnny O Leary onstage in Knocknagree for the set dances and was filmed by RTÉ in 1981 there . He played for 21 years unbroken for dancing competitions at Scartaglin Féile Cheoil and after his death a cup was introduced carrying his name for young fiddle players . He influenced many players in the area including banjo player Denis O Connor who learnt many tunes from him.
Jackie Dan Jerry O’Connor, Mullaghmarkey, Castleisland.
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music,” – Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche.
Jackie Dan Jerry O’Connor left a life in which he entertained, lavished and obliged many people with his music in the course of his 82 years.
He was ‘the man’ at Brennan’s Bar on Friday nights and at No. 22 Lower Main Street in Sheila Prendiville’s Bar and Grocery when music took off there again in the mid 1990s.
On fair days, St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas Eve and the like, people sought him out.
They knew there would be an afternoon and night of pure entertainment and fun wherever he was.
However, it was a case of Sheila’s revisited for Jackie as he had played there before in the late 1950’s and through the 60’s when the place was hopping with polka mad local, Cordal and Scart people.
With a natural aptitude for music Jackie was, like many of his generation, largely self taught.
“Sunday night’s were a fright here in this house that time. We’d be playing polkas all night and they used go home dropping sweat,” he once said while reminiscing about those days in the 1960 and early 70s in Prendiville’s.
John ‘Big John’ O’Connor, Dromulton Scartaglin
John or ‘Big John’ as he was more widely known was yet another of the great people of the Sliabh Luachra area who was taken long before his time. Like his father Francie Davy he was known as a houndsman, a huntsman, a musician and, above all, the genial, gentle giant from Scartaglin was a fine singer and Scartaglin Féile Cheoil Committee member for decades . He recorded for RTÉ Radio in 1992 singing about Patrick O Keeffe for the Peter Browne Radio Documentary Series .
“At fairs or weddings or wherever hounds were gathered when the time came for singing his favourite in later years was, I’m a champion at drivin’ ’em Crazy.
Tin whistlin’s me forte, on the flute I’m the same
At the squeeze-box there’s none can me equal.
I whistle for breakfast, and pipe for me tea
I play me ould flute twenty-five hours a day.
And I can’t understand why so many folk say
I’m champion at drivin’ ’em crazy.”
Kate Horan-O Connor. Knocknacorrin Scartaglin
Kate was a fiddle player and pupil of Pádraig O Keeffe , her son Jackie has all her tunes received from Pádraig perfectly preserved and it is amazing to see the neatness and style of writing that they have. Another fiddle player that people did not get a chance to hear play often enough .
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.
Maura O’Connor. Knockbrack, Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick
Maura is a concertina player and triple All Ireland winner.She also won the Micheàl Ó hEidhín medal in 2018.She was concertina player on the Comhaltas tour of Ireland and Britain in 2018 also . A member of Templeglantine CCE for years Maura is a highly accomplished player with great timing .She is at home with all styles and she is also in great demand as a music teacher. Maura also plays fiddle and is a regular visitor and performer at festivals in Sliabh Luachra.
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.
Neilus O’Connor, Knocknagoshel.
THE legacy of renowned Knocknagoshel Accordion playerNeilus O’Connor was honoured with a festival weekend in his name and in his native place.
The event was organised in 2004 by a group of the late Mr. O’Connor’s friends to mark his contribution to the cultural and musical life of the village community.
Musical colleagues including: Dónal O’Connor, of the Brosna Céilí band, Denis McMahon, Jack and Celia Regan and a host of other talented musicians played at the event.Though known for his talent as a traditional musician he also played with Michael O’Callaghan’s dance band in Castleisland and the band was one of the most popular acts at the time in East Kerry.Neilus O’Connor was active in music circles and in his own pub up to the time of his passing in 1999. A recording of Neilus from a 1963 Radio Eireann programme from McCarthy’s Bar Castleisland was donated to the Archive by John Reidy and it highlights his great box playing.
Nellie O Connor (nee Murphy), Knock- atee, Castleisland.
1898 – 1984
Nellie Murphy was born near Currow, Co.Kerry, in 1898. She was the eldest of nine children, all of whom loved Irish traditional music, and she began play- ing concertina early in her life. Both she and her brother Patie (fiddle) were pupils of Tom Billy Murphy, whose regular visits to the house also had a big influence on all the other members of the family, including her brothers John and Michael, in particular, but also her sisters Hannah (fiddle) and Ettie (fiddle). When the Murphy family moved to Killavullen near Mallow in the 1920s, Nellie was already married to Willie (Fealy) O Connor, and living in Knockatee, Castleisland. Nellie be- came very well known locally for her sweet concertina-playing. She loved to play music with her own children and also with her brothers and sisters. She had a close relationship with, and loved to play music with her first- cousin, Molly Myers.
Of her three children, who all loved Irish traditional music, her daughter Peg continued on the concertina while Johnny plays the fiddle. Denis (Deo) was best-known as a set-dancer and his son, Niall O Connor, is now a renowned accordion player.
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).
Pat O’Connor. Milleen, Kilcummin,
Boxplayer Pat is a former pupil of Pádraig O Keeffe .A former member of the Radiant Show Band who performed in dance halls throughout Munster from circa 1956. He is one of the last living pupils of the Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Master Pádraig O’Keeffe and recalls many journeys made to Pádraig’s home in Glountane by motorcycle on Sunday afternoons.Pat is an uncle of the O’Leary musical family of Mount Scartaglin who are carrying on the tradition .
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).
Patrick O’Connor. (Fiddle, Piano Accordion, Banjo Mandolin, Composer). Born in Maule, Boherbue in1922 and moved to Gneeves when he married in the ‘40s. He took some lessons from Padraig O’Keeffe but the main teacher was a Mr. Corbett. He was co-owner of the Emerald Ballroom in Boherbue and played piano accordion with The Emerald Dance Band. He played fiddle with the Duhallow Céilí Band and played for many years at the Rambling House in Lomanagh. He died in 2006
Rachel O’Connor is a fiddle player from Newmarket. She is currently studying Music in University College Cork. She plays regularly at sessions and festival in Newmarket, Kiskeam, Ballydesmond, Scartaglin and Rockchapel. She has learnt music from Noreen O’Connor, Sheila O’Flynn and Geraldine O’Callaghan but her biggest influence is learning from and playing with her grandfather the great Mauric O’Keeffe.
Thady Pat O’Connor. ( Fiddle, Tin Whistle and Bagpipes) Born in Glenkearney, Rockchapel, but lived most of his life in Lyreaneague. He was self taught. Played the Bagpipes with the Mountcollins Pipe Band. A popular musician and much in demand at all occasions in the locality. He died at 84 in 1995.
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.
Rhona O’Driscoll Kenmare, Co. Kerry
Rhona O’Driscoll is originally from Ovens, Co. Cork. A fine fiddle who lays regularly in the Kenmare session scene since moving to Kerry. she received tlessons from Sinead Madden for a couple of years when working in Dublin. Learned classical as a child before being Influenced by Martin Hayes, Caoimhín O’Raghallaigh, Sliabh Luachra influence would be Denis Murphy. A regular visitor to Sliabh Luachra and a welcome addition to the fiddle community here .
Con O Flynn. Castleisland Co Kerry
Con O Flynn was a fiddle player who taught in Castleisland Vocational and Community College Schools in Castleisland for many decades . A fiddle player who possibly started out with lessons from Duagh fiddler Michael Relihan but could read and write music from his time at college . He taught music in Castleisland and always played fiddle at Tops of the Town competitions in the seventies , In 1985 Con was musical director for the Vocational School production of the musical Smike where he also played fiddle .Con also donated the Pigott family manuscript to Breathnach’s “Ceol Rince na hÉireann 5”.
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).
Danny O’Keeffe (Fiddle). Born in1936 in Deriseal, near Boherbue. Picked up his early music from a Mr. O’Flaherty who was giving lessons to his sister Bridie. Emigrated to London in the ‘50s where he met and played with musicians from all over the country. Returned home c.1980 and played at all the local sessions. He died in 2013.
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 ).
Kathleen O’Keeffe. (Fiddle, Tin Whistle) Kathleen was born into a musical family in Ballinahulla, Ballydesmond. She received tuition from her uncle Jim, a fine fiddler himself. Competed in and won many competitions, including the Oireachtas. Went to Dublin to train as a nurse.
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.
Jim O’Keeffe (Fiddle). A pupil of Pádraig O Keeffe. Born into a musical family in Ballinahulla, Ballydesmond, his father and grandfather were both fiddle players. He had a unique style of playing. He taught music himself for a while in the early days, Jim spent a good deal of his working life in the Kanturk area. Helped to set up the ‘stage’ in Knocknacolon where he played with Seán Lynch, Pat Cashman, Ted Winters and a young Jackie Daly among others. Also played with the Seán Lynch Céilí Band and the Duhallow Céilí Band. Died in his mid 90s in 2014.
Nora O Keeffe Carmody. Nora continued the musical tradition of her mothers family , The Callaghan’s of Doon . She played concertina and succeeded her brother Pádraig O Keeffe as teacher in Glountane School . It is rumoured that there are recordings in existence of Nora but we have not discovered them yet.
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 O’Leary. Mount, Scartaglin
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”.
Johnny O’Leary. (Fiddle). A good fiddle player from Kiskeam. Spent some time in America. Played in lots of competitions in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Influenced by the old 78rpm records. Taught Timmy Connors how to play with a fiddle player
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).
Jane (Murphy) O’Riordan. Twogneeves, Cullen
Jane Willie Betty Murphy was born 15th May 1907.to Kate & William Murphy (better known as the Willie Bettys) at Tureenclassagh,KnocknagreeShe had 4 sisters & 3 brothers, some of them also played the fiddle. At a young age Jane took up playing the fiddle and along with her brother Thade Willie Murphy were taught by Maurice Manley of Tureenclassagh and some occasions she played with Julia Clifford & Denis Murphy (the waiver).
In 1941 she married John O’Riordan, and took up residence in Cullen and brought her fiddle with her; she had 4 children.She continued to play her fiddle at home,social gatherings and with her friend Mae Naughton down through the years.Her favourite tune was “The Peeler and the Goat “.
She played her fiddle up to the time of her death in 1991, at the age of 84 years.
In September 1975 Patrick Slattery of the UK along with Maurice O Keeffe visited and Jane recordings exist and in the music archives section 1975 .
Noreen O’Shea Tousist, Kenmare
Noreen a fiddle playerI grew up in Tuosist near Kenmare and was taught tin whistle in national school in the late 70’s by Andy O Sullivan (member of the group Amergin). I then went on to learning fiddle with Peggy Healy in secondary school. In the 90’s I attended the weekly sessions in the Roughty Bar Kilgarvan run by local box player Paudie Kelleher. I was greatly influenced by the Sliabh Luachra music especially the playing of Johnny O Leary and Jackie Daly. Noreen can be heard locally at the many great sessions in Kenmare over the summer.
Andy O’Sullivan. Kenmare, Co. Kerry
Andy is originally from Kanturk but was raised in Buttevant. All his family on both sides were from Ballydesmond, Newmarket, Kiskeam and Boherbue to mention but a few places and his playing reflects his Sliabh Luachra roots .
Andy’s interest in Irish music came from his parents whose preferred music was traditional. His first mouth organ came via Santa and when He met and heard Eddie Clarke R.I.P. in Dublin in the late 1960s and the first time ever hearing chromatic harmonica being played.
In the 60s he stayed with Ml. Mulcahy from Brosna and later got to know Denis Mc Mahon and Nicky McAuliffe and we travelled the country together to Fleadh Cheoils Oireachtas and of course Willie Clancy week. After moving to Kerry in the early 70s I got to know Dan & Johnny O Leary, Jimmy Doyle, Mikie Duggan and many others so I was lucky to be amongst the finest of Sliabh Luachra.
Andy started playing in sessions in Kenmare in the early 70s, at the time a mecca for traditional music throughout Ireland and abroad.
He joined the Kenmare based band Amerghin with Joe Thoma, Dave O’Sullivan, Anita Heffernan and Nick Urwin who released a CD in 2001.
As well as being one of the most celebrated harmonica players he also is noted tin whistle player and also plays concertina .Andy continues to play in session in Kenmare and further afield.
Ciarán O’Sullivan, a banjo player from Gneeveguilla, was born in November 1996. Coming from a very musical background Ciarán showed an interest in music from an early age. At the age of 6/7 he began music lessons in Gneeveguilla with the musical great Nicholas McAuliffe learning the Tin Whistle, later moving onto the banjo. He was greatly influenced by Sliabh Luachra players such as Jimmy Doyle (accordion) and his grandfather the late Paudie Gleeson (fiddle), had the pleasure to play many sessions with them from an early age. Ciarán also received great help and encouragement along the way from banjo player Gearóid Keating from Mountcollins. Ciarán also has huge musical background on his father’s side with his father being Joe O’Sullivan (Flute) and his grandfather John O’Sullivan (fiddle) bringing both a West Limerick and a 70’s/80’s London influence. He has won various All Ireland medals at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in both music and set dancing. He continues to play regularly at various music sessions locally. He has two sister’s Michelle and Aoife who also continue in the rich Sliabh Luachra tradition of music, song and dance.
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
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.
Dee O’Sullivan. Fiddler and singer from The Spa, Tralee. Self-taught on fiddle, with later lessons from Nicky McAuliffe and Paddy Jones. Regular performer at sessions all over Kerry. In early 1980s co-founded long-running session in Flaherty’s Bar, Ardfert, which later moved to Baily’s Corner, Tralee, where it continues. Learned much from older generation of musicians, including Ardfert fiddlers Paddy O’Sullivan, Ned Nolan and Tom McCarthy, as well as local musicians including Máire O’Keeffe, Michelle O’Sullivan, Kate Mulcahy and Mick Culloty. Also influenced by musicians encountered at the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival in Castleisland.
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.
John O’Sullivan. Knockrour Scartaglin / Carrigkerry Co Limerick
John O’Sullivan was born in the Spring of 1948 in Carrigkerry, Co. Limerick. A family of 5 girls and 4 boys with a strong traditional influence of music, song and dance.
He learned the fiddle in his teenage years from a well know teacher from Glenagore, near Athea. His name was Patneen Ahern and he was respected near and far by all as a good fiddler, he taught other people in the locality. In fact he was recorded by the late Seán O’Riada on a visit to Athea in 1962. John would cycle with the fiddle to meet Ahern at his house for lessons as Patneen was blind. John immigrated to England in the mid/late 1960’s in search of work. He married there and in the 1970’s met an Irish Couple Eileen and Owen Maloney who along with their son John had a family band. They asked him to join them, which he did. They were called the ‘Araneers’ and they played for various functions in halls and clubs around London. Eileen Maloney (Clifford) was coincidentally from Ballyhar, Killarney. After spending almost 20years abroad, John and Family moved back to Ireland and settled in Scartaglin, where he still lives. John is father to Joe (Flute) and Grandfather to Ciarán (Banjo)
(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.
Lisa O’Sullivan. Lisa plays fiddle and comes from Freemount, Co Cork. Her teacher was Con Herbert from Kileedy Co Limerick who introduced her to a wealth of music and great players. She was also influenced by her grand aunt Peggy Carrol who played the concertina at house dances in West Limerick and her fiddle playing grand uncle Dinny Curran. A hilight growing up was playing with Johnny O’Leary for set dancing in Freemount. She is also a fan of the music of Jackie Daly, Julia Clifford and Timmy Collins. As a student in UCC, part of her post graduate studies were on the music and poets of Sliabh Luachra. She currently lives in Cork, where she has thought music for many years including Sliabh Luachra music classes to adult learners. She has played with many groups and Ceili bands and currently plays with the traditional music group Ceili Allstars.
Michael “Tosh” O’Sullivan
Michael is a banjo player from Freemount Co.Cork. As a child he learnt music from Con Herbert from Kileedy in Co Limerick. As a young player he played at feiseanna ceol and Scor competitions all over Sliabh Luachra. His biggest influences are the accordion players Timmy O’Connor and Johnny O’Leary. He plays with traditional music group Ceili Allstars and is a regular plays in Scully’s Bar, Newmarket and at the Handed Down Series in Scartaglin.
Michelle O’Sullivan. Concertina, accordion, fiddle and whistle player and music teacher from Tralee. Learned music from Nicky and Anne McAuliffe, and step dancing from Jimmy Smith. Performed on several CCÉ tours as a teenager, and also played with Nicky & Anne and others in the house band of Siamsa Tíre. Given the former scarcity of concertina players, Michelle learned much from playing with fiddlers (including fellow Tralee native Máire O’Keeffe) and accordion players (especially Johnny O’Leary, with whom she played frequently in Knocknagree). An outstanding musician on several instruments, besides a thorough knowledge of Sliabh Luachra music, she is also well versed in the fiddle music of Donegal.
Raymond O’Sullivan. Newmarket, Co Cork
Born in 1946 in New St., Newmarket. Took formal piano lessons as a boy and as a teenager was mentored on the fiddle by Deed Connie Murphy from High St., and much influenced by his old friend Timmy Connors from Tooreendarby. Played with The Duhallow Céilí Band and was a founding member of the Monday night session at Scully’s Bar in New St. . A highly regarded and respected member of the Sliabh Luachra community . Local historian and a huge contributor to the Handed Down Sliabh Luachra Archive in 2020.
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.
Davey Piggott. (Banjo). Born in 1948, Davey lives in Taur, Newmarket. He was self-taught and one of the founding members of the Monday
night session at Scullys.
Davey Pigott. (Accordion) Born in Mocha, Ballydesmond in 1921. Moved to Guiney’s Tce in Newmarket after he got married in the ‘40s. A sweet player on the accordion. Played solo and in several combinations at house dances, house weddings, etc., and spent some time with the Seán Lynch Céilí Band.
Sean Quinn.Flute player from Cordal, source of all the Pádraig O’Keeffe tunes called “Quinn’s”.
Jack Regan, Knocknagoshel.
In the days before The Shoemaker’s Inn got into its musical stride, in the early 1980s, there was precious little by way of traditional Irish music to be heard in the general Castleisland area.
Knocknagoshel native, Castleisland resident, fiddle player Jack Regan was one of the first anchormen on the back corner of Pats’ and Linda’s new Tuesday night venue.Jack had spent many years working in England but he kept well in touch with his music there.It was to the surprise of many locals in the mid 1990s when well known London born, Roscommon domiciled musician John Carty came to Castleisland as part of a CD launch tour that he expressed a high regard for Jack and he hope to meet him as they had played regularly together during their time in the UK.
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).
Paudy Scully. (Concert Flute). Born in 1954 in Scully’s Bar, New St., Newmarket. Self-taught but influenced by flute player Mikey Cronin of Reboy and other musicians who frequented the session in his parent’s pub, of which he was a founding member. He recorded with the Monks of the Screw and his own solo CD, ‘A Tribute to Patrick Enright’ and several recordings with Timmy Connors and Denis McMahon to accompany ‘The Set Dances of Ireland’ by San Francisco based dance teacher, Larry Lynch He lives in Germany and his wife and children are also
Anne Sheehy.See Anne McAuliffe (née Sheehy).
Ellen Spillane. Knockrour, East Scartaglin
Ellen was a concertina and fiddle player whose playing hugely influenced her son John and neighbour Mikey Duggan . Both became students of Pádraig O Keeffe. Ellen’s grandchildren Eileen and Peter in London continued the family tradition of playing music .
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.
Sheila ( Casey) Tangney. Currow and Scartaglin
Sheila is one of the most respected singers from the area and sang with the Desmond Céili Band . She is particularly associated with her fine rendition of “Brosna Town” which we are lucky to have a recording in the Archive from Tom Fleming’s Bar 1994 . Maurice O Keeffe Of Kiskeam used to always say Sheila was his favourite singer .
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).
Joe Thoma, Kenmare, fiddle player and composer, first played in the school orchestra and string quartet where he met and learned his first traditional tunes from Vincent Milne (fiddle). During his Art College days he co-fouded the folk band Raftery with Christy O’Leary (singer) and their two brothers, Francis (bodhrán), Tim (guitar/tin whistle), and Peter Browne (uilleann pipes) who greatly encouraged him in his pursuit of the Sliabh Luachra style. In the early seventies he came to know and play sessions with local Kenmare musicians including Mrs (Joan) Crowley (fiddle) and Tim Casey (accordion). Also around that time he played regularly with Seamus Creagh and Jackie Daly who became major influences. He established the Kenmare Folk Club in 1975 and the Cibeal Cincíse Arts Festival in 1982. These annual events featured and promoted the music of Sliabh Luachra for many years. Regular visits to Cúil Aodha, Knocknagree and Milltown Malbay put him in contact with many other musicians including Eilín Ní Riordáin, Connie O’Connell, Denis MacMathon, Johnny O’Leary and Julia Clifford who were always generous in their encouragement and the sharing of tunes. He released a recording UpThe Track in 1984 and in 2000 composed Inbhear Scéine, a suite for Celtic orchestra and uilleann pipes. Joe has performed widely and continues to compose new tunes; he plays regularly in sessions both at home and abroad.
Connie Walsh. Fiddler from Lisheen, a neighbour of the “Waiver” Murphys. He played for the sets. Emigrated to America.
John Walsh. (Fiddle; Composer). A fine fiddle player from Derrygallon, near Kanturk, The composer of many tunes which have slipped imperceptibly into the Sliabh Luachra musical repertoire. Although the music teacher Dan Roger O’Sullivan used to call to the house, John was largely self-taught. A nephew of Sonny O’Riordan, who would have been a big influence on him in later years. He has an in depth knowledge and understanding of the notation methods of Padraig O’Keeffe and Tom Billy.
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.
Mick Williams. ( Accordion; Bagpipes). Mick was born in Headford, Co. Kerry in 1917. He was self-taught. Worked for the E.S.B. and was posted to Kanturk in the ‘40s. Got married and lived there for the rest of his life. He founded the Duhallow Céilí Band and with an offshoot, The Duhallow Trio, played for many years on the popular Radio Éireann programme,’Take the Floor with Den Joe’. He also played in a film called ‘The Dawn’, made by a Cooper man from Killarney. He died in 2005 at 88.
Ted Winters (Fiddle) Ted was born in Rossacon, Newmarket in 1917 and moved to Lombardstown when he got married. The Winters’ were a musical family and Ted got his early tuition from his father. When he was old enough, he cycled back to Padraig O’Keeffe for lessons. A proud day in his life was when he won the Padraig O’Keeffe Cup and the Munster Senior Fiddle Cup in Castleisland in 1966. Played at the stage in Knocknacolan and with the Duhallow Céilí Band. He died in1998.
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.