The Handed Down Sliabh Luachra Archive.
Photo and Biographies Section.
Funded with the help of the Kerry County Library Cultural Archive Award 2017 and Kerry County Council Community Funding Grant 2018, Creative Ireland.
We are preparing a list, with brief biographies, of musicians, and other significant figures in Sliabh Luachra, with particular focus on the Scartaglin/ Castleisland/ Cordal/ Ballydesmond area, the heartland of Sliabh Luachra proper. Some of these people are already fairly widely known and written about, but there are many others who also deserve recognition for their contribution to the Sliabh Luachra cultural tradition.
As funding has come from Kerry County Council we will focus on that side of the border first. Our thanks to all who donated photos and to Paul de Grae for his work on this page. Paul de Grae wishes to thank Anthony Buffery for sharing his remarkable store of research into Sliabh Luachra music.
All material is the work of the group and there for the benefit of the Sliabh Luachra music lovers and community. If reproduced, please credit the source page and the donor of the photo and respect the work that has gone into this archive. P.J. Teahan, founder.
John Mahinney Barnard. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Johnny Cronin(1955-2008). Accordion player from Aghadoe, Killarney. Born into musical family: father played fiddle, and mother’s family (Twomeys from Kilgarvan) were also musicians. Emigrated to New York in 1983, where he played frequently with his fiddler namesake Johnny Cronin, Andy McGann, Jack Coen, Joe “Banjo” Burke and others. Like Denis Murphy and Paddy Cronin before him, he learned to fit into the dominant Sligo style in the US without neglecting his Sliabh Luahra roots. Married Aileen O’Connell, daughter of Dan O’Connell of Knocknagree, central figure in the revival of set dancing. Returned to Killarney in 1996 and was regular performer in sessions and festivals, while also continuing to visit America.
Mick Cronin. Flute and tin whistle player from Reaboy, Gneeveguilla; brother of Paddy and Johnny. Unlike his brothers, Mick did not emigrate, and Alan Ward wrote in 1976 that he “still plays in a fine old country style which owes little to modern recorded music and is fast disappearing.”
Paddy Cronin(1925-2014). Fiddle and flute player from Reaboy, Gneeveguilla. Learned music initially from his mother, Hannie (Nagle), who played concertina and sang, and also from Pádraig O’Keeffe. Brothers Johnny (fiddle) and Mick (whistle) also played. Shortly before Paddy’s emigration to Boston in 1949, he was recorded for Raidiό Éireann by Seamus Ennis, playing in wonderful Sliabh Luachra style. During his 40 or so years in America, finding little welcome for polkas and slides, Paddy adopted and became highly proficient in a more mainstream Sligo style of fiddling; like Denis Murphy and other Sliabh Luachra musicians, he was genuinely interested in that style anyway. When Paddy returned to Kerry in the 1990s, he soon took up the Sliabh Luachra repertoire again, and was a frequent performer at sessions and concerts in the area, influencing a younger generation of musicians such as Con Moynihan and others. Awarded Gradam Ceoil by TG4 in 2007. Recordings include eight 78rpm records and one EP for the Copley label in Boston in the 1950s; the LPs “Music in the Glen” and “The House in the Glen” in the early 1970s; “Rakish Paddy” (1975), and “Kerry’s Own Paddy Cronin” (1977). Paddy performed frequently on radio and TV, and many of these performances can be found on YouTube.
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.
Johnny Dennehy(?-1982). Fiddle and tin whistle player and singer from Rossanean, Currow; a pupil of Tom Billy Murphy. Regarded as an outstanding all-round player, equally adept with slow airs and dance tunes; was known to sing and play an air at the same time. Some of his music was passed on to Maurice O’Keeffe.
Denis Doody(1937-2007). Accordion and melodeon player from Ballinahulla, on the Kerry side of Ballydesmond. Learned much of his music from the lilting of his mother, and from neighbour Biddy Lenihan (concertina); also learned from Pádraig O’Keeffe. Was nephew of Din Tarrant. Emigrated to London in 1954, and became involved in the vibrant Irish music scene there. Settled in County Clare in 1964 and formed musical partnership with fiddler Donal O’Connor; both were also members of Brosna Céilí Band. Had great store of unusual tunes, including some learned from “Cuz” Teahan on a visit to Chicago. Recorded solo album, “Kerry Music” (1979), probably unique among traditional Irish recordings in containing no reels.
Jimmy Doyle(b.1944). Accordion and melodeon. His family home at Maulykevane (Jib), west of Gneeveguilla, was a well-known “rambling house” where music was played for listening rather than dancing. His father, Pat, was a fiddler and his mother Julia was a singer. Jimmy is widely acknowledged to be a master on the C#/D Paolo Soprani; he was in the Desmond Céilí Band and is still very active in sessions. A great source of tunes, there is a score or more polkas that have “Jimmy Doyle’s” as one of their titles. At the 2009 Patrick O’Keeffe Festival in Castleisland he was presented with the Patrick O’ Keeffe Award for dedication to Sliabh Luachra music.
Corney Drew(1832-?). Fiddler and music teacher, born in Dromtariffe (between Millstreet and Kanturk, County Cork); also settled near Kiskeam, and in Drumoltan, near Scartaglin. A key figure in the history of Sliabh Luachra music. Partially or fully blind. Pupils included Margaret and Cal O’Callaghan (mother and uncle, respectively, of Pádraig O’Keeffe), Tadhg Ó Buachalla (Timothy Buckley, “Taidhgín an Asail”), William Fitzgerald and John Lenihan, all of whom were influential on later generations of Sliabh Luachra musicians (Ó Buachalla taught Tom Billy Murphy and Din Tarrant, Lenihan taught Maurice O’Keeffe). Probably learned his music from Tipperary fiddle and dancing master Timothy O’Grady, who moved to Rockchapel, in north Cork; O’Grady (who died in the 1840s) had been a big house retainer, and may have been one of the people involved in the adaptation of the formal quadrille to local taste in the early 19th century, resulting in the “polka sets” for which Sliabh Luachra is renowned.
Michael (Mikey) Duggan(1921-2012). Fiddler from Scartaglin. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe; also learned from father and mother (both played concertina), and neighbour Eileen Spillane (concertina and fiddle). 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.
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.
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).
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”.
Paddy Jones.Fiddler and music teacher from Kilcusnan, Castleisland. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe (1957-60); also learned tunes from Paddy and Willie O’Connell, and eventually from many of the older generation of Sliabh Luachra musicians. Has travelled, played and taught music in many different countries, while also learning learning about other cultures and styles of music. Has a broad and deep interest in music and culture generally, which gives a depth of feeling to his playing, especially in slow airs.
Bridgie Kelleher, née Murphy (1894-1993). Concertina and fiddle player, from Lisheen; eldest of the family of Bill “The Weaver” and Mainie Murphy. Learned concertina when young, but gave it up due to family responsibilities; later played fiddle. She was recorded by Peter Browne for the RTÉ radio programme Airneánin January 1988, with her sister Julia Clifford and Johnny O’Leary.
Maurice Leane. From Annagh, Castleisland. Learned fiddle from Tom Billy Murphy. Emigrated to London and in late 1940s and 1950s, ran All-Ireland Social Club at The Stadium, Cricklewood, where John and Julia Clifford played in the “ceilidh” band (alternating 20-minute sets with an all-female popular music dance band led by Betty Jackson).
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.
Anne McAuliffe(née Sheehy) (b. 1946). Flute, fiddle, accordion and concertina player and teacher, from Glenoe, Lixnaw. Became involved in music through Comhaltas Ceoltόirí Éireann. All-Ireland under-18 accordion winner, 1964, and senior whistle winner, 1967. Played with the Desmond Céili Band and the Brosna Céili Band. Founder member of Siamsa Tíre (National Folk Theatre of Ireland), and played in the “house band” with husband Nicky. Nicky and Anne toured North America with CCÉ in 1975. Hugely influential in teaching and mentoring young musicians in Kerry and further afield. Nicky and Anne were jointly awarded the Gradam Saoil (Lifetime Achievement Award) in the TG4 Gradam Ceoil 2019 (“the Oscars” for Irish traditional music, presented by the Irish language TV station TG4).
Nicholas (Nicky) McAuliffe(b.1945). Fiddler, flute player and music teacher from Cordal, Castleisland. Father played accordion. Nicky went to school in Knocknagoshel, an area rich in traditional music, which he absorbed readily, along with recordings of “the greats” of Irish music. Played with the Desmond Céili Band and the Brosna Céili Band, and with the “house band” of Siamsa Tíre (National Folk Theatre of Ireland). All-Ireland senior whistle winner, 1971. Possesses great store of knowledge of traditional music in general and Sliabh Luachra music in particular, and is much sought after for information. With wife Anne Sheehy, has been hugely influential in teaching and mentoring young musicians in Kerry and further afield. Nicky and Anne were jointly awarded the Gradam Saoil (Lifetime Achievement Award) in the TG4 Gradam Ceoil 2019 (“the Oscars” for Irish traditional music, presented by the Irish language TV station TG4).
Jerry McCarthy(1926-1995). Fiddler from Gortglass, Cordal, Castleisland. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe at age 8. Father and five maternal aunts were concertina players. Spent several years in England and New York in the 1960s; was active in Irish music scene in New York, and performed five times in Carnegie Hall. Later returned to Ireland, settling in Dublin in 1979. Frequently performed on RTÉ radio and television; won the Oireachtas Gold Medal on fiddle in 1947. Specialist in slow airs.
Denis McMahon(1941-2018). Fiddler and accordion player from Ballyhar; learned fiddle from Jerry McCarthy and accordion from Pádraig O’Keeffe. A member of both the Brosna Céilí Band and the Desmond Céilí Band; also played regularly with Connie O’Connell. Frequently appeared on TV and radio. Featured on two tracks of the 1968 album “Paddy in the Smoke”, playing with Julia Clifford and Con Curtin; and with Connie O’Connell on three tracks of “The County Bounds” album. Also recorded on Volumes 2 to 5 of ‘Set Dances of Ireland’, a series of recordings to accompany Larry Lynch’s book, ‘Set Dances of Ireland, Tradition and Evolution’. Received award for dedication to the music of Sliabh Luachra at the 2010 Patrick O’Keeffe Festival.
Con Moynihan(b.1967). Fiddler from Gneeveguilla. Absorbed music from his father Paddy (accordion) and sisters Eileen (tin whistle) and Jane (accordion). Pupil of Nicky McAuliffe. Has studied closely and learned from several of the older generation, including Jerry McCarthy, Mikey Duggan and Paddy Cronin. Recorded CD, “Sunday After Mass” (2003), with Denis O’Connor (banjo).
Paddy Moynihan.Accordion player from Gneeveguilla; played in Thady Willie O’Connor’s dance hall with Johnny O’Leary. Father of fiddler Con Moynihan.
Bill “The Weaver” Murphy(?–1947) and Mainie Murphy (née Corbett). Parents of the famously talented siblings, Julia (Clifford) (q.v.) and Denis (q.v.). Bill (from Lisheen) played fife, flute, whistle and fiddle; organised the Lisheen fife-&-drum band; often played with John Mahinney Barnard. According to Julia, he learned much music from travelling musicians like Tadhg Ó Buachalla (Taidhgín an Asail) and Phil Walsh. Mainie was from about two miles away, between Quarry Lodge and Lisheen; she was a singer. The couple had nine children: Bridgie (q.v.), Nell (Horan), Mary (q.v.), Dan (q.v.), Taidy, Hannie (q.v.), Denis and Julia. All were musical and learned the fiddle; and except for Bridgie, all emigrated to America or Britain.
Dan Murphy.Fiddler, from Lisheen. Son of Bill “The Waiver” and Mainie Murphy. Regarded locally as an outstanding fiddler, but emigrated young to New York, where he played with all the leading Irish musicians; at one time had a radio show with Paddy Killoran.
Denis Murphy (1910-1974). Fiddler from Lisheen, Gneeveguilla. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe. Along with his sister Julia Clifford, widely regarded as one of the greatest Irish traditional musicians. Emigrated to New York in 1949, returning home at intervals, and permanently in 1964. Had long musical partnership with Johnny O’Leary. Recordings include “Kerry Fiddles” with his sister Julia Clifford and Pádraig O’Keeffe; “The Star Above the Garter” with Julia; and “Denis Murphy: Music from Sliabh Luachra”.
Hannie Murphy. Fiddler, from Lisheen; daughter of Bill “The Waiver” and Mainie Murphy. Emigrated to New York.
Mary Murphy. Fiddler, from Lisheen; daughter of Bill “The Waiver” and Mainie Murphy. A fine fiddler, dances at her house were among the best locally, according to her sister Julia (Clifford). Emigrated to Oregon and later New York, where for a time she ran an all-female band called “The Maids of Erin”.
Molly Murphy, née Myers (1916-2002). Fiddler, from Killeagh, Farranfore. Pupil of Tom Billy Murphy, married his nephew Willie Murphy and settled in Glencollins. Had large collection of Tom Billy’s music, written out by herself, containing many rare tunes. Highly valued as a source by Breandán Breathnach, who included tunes from her in Ceol Rince na hÉireann 2; many more are in Cnuasach an Bhreathnaigh(BB’s personal archive) in the Irish Traditional Music Archive, Dublin. Was interviewed in and played on RTÉ Radio documentary on Tom Billy made by Pat Feeley in 1980 (available on RTÉ Radio website).
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.
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.
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.
Martin O’Connor( b.1949). Fiddler from Castlehill, Cordal, son of Maurice O’Connor. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe, possibly the last one. Like his father, played mainly at home, but also played at World Fiddle Day 2015 session in Lyons Bar. In January 2019 he was a special guest of Matt Cranitch at a Handed Down Lecture in Scartaglin Heritage Centre, where he spoke about O’Keeffe and played for the audience.
Maurice O’Connor(1917-1987). Fiddler from Gortglass, Scartaglin, later of Castlehill, Cordal. Pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe, as were elder brothers Denis and John. Musical friendship with O’Keeffe continued into adulthood, and O’Keeffe was a frequent visitor to the house in Castlehill. Maurice mainly played at home for his own and his family’s enjoyment. Also played with neighbour Paddy O’Connell and with Jerry McCarthy. Daughter Bridie (Reidy) and son Martin also learned from Pádraig O’Keeffe.
Ned O’Connor.Fiddle and C#/D accordion player from Mullen, Scartaglin. Fiddle pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe. Played frequently with Dan Jeremiah O’Connor (no relation) in Tom Fleming’s pub in Scartaglin. Has large store of unusual local tunes.
Noeleen O’Connor.Fiddler from Ballyhar, from a musical family: mother and uncles (Kathleen, Jimmy, Eamonn and Tom Marshall, from Killsorcan) all played accordion, as does brother Paudie. Frequent performer at sesssions in Killarney area. Featured on six tracks on “The County Bounds” album (1999), and also plays on Paudie’s album “Different State” (2005).
Paudie O’Connor(b.1975). Accordion player from Ballyhar. Mother and uncles (Kathleen, Jimmy, Eamonn and Tom Marshall, from Killsorcan) all played accordion. Paudie was taught by Pádraig Moynihan and Anne Sheehy McAuliffe, also influenced by observing and playing with Jimmy Doyle, Johnny O’Leary and John Brosnan. The latter’s adaptation of B/C accordion style to a more press-&-draw sound led Paudie to develop his own “Sliabh Luachra B/C” style. More recently he has taken to the C#/D system (the more usual press-&-draw system). Recorded solo album , “Different State” (2005) and with his wife Aoife Ní Chaoimh, “Didn’t She Dance and Dance” (2014).
Thady Willie O’Connor (1886-1974). Dance hall proprietor. Played bass drum in Bill “The Weaver” Murphy’s Lisheen fife-&-drum band. Opened a dance hall in Gneevegullia in 1927, which continued until the early 1980s (run in latter years by son Jim). Johnny O’Leary had his first professional engagement there in 1936, aged 13, when he sat in for the absent Mick O’Mahony, partnering Denis Murphy (also a “first” for Johnny). Other musicians performing there at various times included Pádraig O’Keeffe, Julia and John Clifford, Paddy and Johnny Cronin, and many more.
Art O’Keeffe. Fiddler, tin whistle player and singer from Gneeveguilla, pupil of Tom Billy Murphy. Played fife in Bill “The Weaver” Murphy’s Lisheen fife-&-drum band. Friend and neighbour of Denis Murphy.
Bill O’Keeffe. Fiddle player from Glountane, brother of Pádraig O’Keeffe; became a Garda in Dublin. There are two tunes named for him in the Johnny O’Leary book (no.s 162 and 163), which Johnny learned via Pádraig.
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).
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).
Norah O’Keeffe. Concertina player from Glountane, sister of Pádraig O’Keeffe; was a teacher and taught in Glountane; married a neighbour, Tom Carmody.
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.
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).
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”.
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.
Timothy J. “Thadelo” O’Sullivan (1904-78). Flute, whistle, melodeon and concertina player from Annaghbeg, Gneeveguilla. Friend and neighbour of Johnny O’Leary. His name is associated with many unusual tunes, apparently from the repertoires of Tom Billy Murphy and Din Tarrant.
Corneilus P O O’Sullivan
Corneilus was born in the USA in 1936 but moved back to Ireland with his parents as a six year old and attended Primary School in Gneeveguilla. He learnt his first polkas from Bridgie Kelliher a sister of Denis Murphy and he became heavily influenced by Denis’s playing and copied his style from tapes he made and later by playing with Denis from a phone interview April 2019) . He was recorded for Radio Eireann by Ciarán MacMathuna together with Denis Murphy and Dan Cronin in Cronin’s home in the mid fifties. This was the first recording ever made in Sliabh Luachra by Ciarán and featured in an RTÉ collection called Music from Kerry and Clare . Recent recordings of Cornelius and Denis from the Bronx New York have been found and donated to the Handed Down Archive. This recording was made after Corneilus returned to New York in 1963 . Cornelius P O Sullivan is now 83 years old and still active as a doctor in Pittsburgh USA. We thank him for the photo and info .
Sean Quinn.Flute player from Cordal, source of all the Pádraig O’Keeffe tunes called “Quinn’s”.
Patrick 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).
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
Anne Sheehy.See Anne McAuliffe (née Sheehy).
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.
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.
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).
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.