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Instrument fashion in Irish music
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Author:  kenny [ Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Instrument fashion in Irish music

PS - to avoid any confusion, he talks about "Wren Boys", not "Rent boys" :)

Author:  MadmanWithaWhistle [ Tue Aug 06, 2019 2:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Instrument fashion in Irish music

Mr.Gumby wrote:
highland-piper wrote:

I've never seen any evidence that bodhrán, per se existed as a /musical/ instrument before O'Riada.

It was certainly popular supporting the fifes of the wrenboys in some areas, North Kerry for example.


Author:  Mr.Gumby [ Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Instrument fashion in Irish music

I had forgotten I actually have these:

Image Image

Note the 'tambourine' mentioned on both labels. No thought of calling it a 'bodhran'.

I've never seen any evidence that bodhrán, per se existed as a /musical/ instrument before O'Riada.

I was digitising a few tapes last week, among them recordings made in Peter O'Loughlin's, late 1954, a group of people playing, fiddles, flute, pipes and a bodhran. They were out there.

Author:  PB+J [ Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Instrument fashion in Irish music

That's so cool. What condition are they in? They look great in the sleeve.

It's hard to find out much about Tom Morrison, much less about Reynolds. As I understand it "Ed Gogan" is Ed Geoghagen?

I was just talking to a fiddle player, John Daly, and we were wondering while O'Neill never mentions the may great 78s from the 20s and 30s. O'Neill is...whats the right word--intimidated or impressed by the piano, as a lot of people were. It stood for affluence, respectability, modernity and "high culture." But he might have disliked the sound.

Finley Peter Dunne, the Chicago journalist, has a whole passage on pianos and Irish Americans. I think Nicholas Carolan quotes it

"But they wasn't a man in th' party that had a pianny to his name, an' she knew they'd be throuble whin they wint home an' tould about it. ''Tis a mel-odjious insthrument,' says she. 'I cud sit here be the hour an' listen to Bootoven and Choochooski,' she says. "'What did thim write?' says Cassidy. 'Chunes,' says Donahue, 'chunes: Molly,' he says, 'fetch 'er th' wallop to make th' gintlemen feel good,' he says. 'What 'll it be, la-ads?' 'D'ye know "Down be th' Tan-yard Side"?' says Slavin. 'No,' says Molly. 'It goes like this,' says Slavin. 'A-ah, din yadden, yooden a-yadden, arrah yadden ay-a.' 'I dinnaw it,' says th' girl. ''Tis a low chune, annyhow,' says Mrs. Donahue. 'Misther Slavin ividintly thinks he's at a polis picnic,' she says. 'I'll have no come-all-ye's in this house,' she
says. 'Molly, give us a few ba-ars fr'm Wagner.' 'What Wagner's that?' says Flannagan. 'No wan ye know,' says Donahue; 'he's a German musician.' 'Thim Germans is hot people f'r music,' says Cassidy. 'I knowed wan that cud play th' "Wacht am Rhine" on a pair iv cymbals,' he says, 'Whisht!' says Donahue. 'Give th' girl a chanst.'

Donahue jumps up. 'Hol' on!' he says. 'That's not a rented pianny, ye daft girl,' he says. 'Why, pap-pah,' says Molly, 'what d'ye mean?' she says. 'That's Wagner,' she says. ''Tis th' music iv th' future,' she says. 'Yes,' says Donahue, 'but I don't want me hell on earth. I can wait f'r it,' he says, 'with th' kind permission iv Mrs. Donahue,' he says. 'Play us th' "Wicklow Mountaineer,"' he says, 'an' threat th' masheen kindly,' he says, 'She'll play no "Wicklow Mountaineer,"' says Mrs. Donahue. 'If ye want to hear that kind iv chune, ye can go down to Finucane's Hall,' she says, 'an' call in Crowley, th' blind piper,' she says. 'Molly,' she says, 'give us wan iv thim Choochooski things,' she said. 'They're so ginteel.'

Dunne's dialect writing is right on the edge of offensive, but at times he's very empathetic and insightful.

Author:  Mr.Gumby [ Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Instrument fashion in Irish music

O'Neill had piano parts for the Waifs and Strays. I have a pdf copy of Selena's selections as well (although I couldn't find it recently, I hope it's on the storage drive). He can't have been totally averse.

Author:  PB+J [ Sat Aug 31, 2019 5:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Instrument fashion in Irish music

No and he writes to Selena with a degree of affection that’s a bit eyebrow raising in a man of his age at the time. His daughters play piano, “modern things of little interest to me.” But Francis is very much an upper class guy in retirement, corresponding with the Anglo Irish elite, and there’s an awful lot of off hand comments about “the type of men with whom I had to associate” to compile the book. He should not have been hostile to the piano.

In 1934 he writes an essay for the cork examiner where he talks about Irish music on the radio in Chicago, on wcfl, which was wholly owned by a labor union. They had an Irish music program that lasted into the the 1950s. But it’s odd that he never mentions Coleman, Morrison, McKenna, Killoran etc, especially when O’Neill himself had been a pioneer in using mechanical recording to document Irish music.

Author:  Mr.Gumby [ Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Instrument fashion in Irish music

If you look at the house at Tralibane, he hardly started out as from a small time farming background but I don't know about all that.

The attitudes towards the piano were always a bit of two minds. O'Riada's rant against it is one typical example, full of hyperbole and perhaps a little self loathing. And ofcourse playing a recording of Patrick Kelly on his own and then putting a deliberately poor backing under it. It's actually funny to listen to because it's so over the top.

The accordion had some of that treatment as well, O'Riada calling it 'an instrument designed by foreigners for the use by peasants' and explaining why exactly it is so unsuitable to Irish music and then having Sonny Brogan in his band or Tony McMahon doing the same, going on how unsuitable, harsh and unfeeling an instrument it is and then going on to play slow airs on it.
The same could be said for O'Riada stating on one hand 'Irish music is entirely a matter of solo expression and not a group activity' while at the same forming and leading Ceoltori Chualan.

There's a lot of 'do as I say, not as I do' going around.

I suppose it is echoed in the attitudes of the musicians towards O'Riada, they were in a way delighted and perhaps curious about the interest 'a man like that' took in their music and a lot of them obviously had an affection for him because of it while at the same time being dismissive about him and what he stood for. It's never quite straight forward.


My copy of Selena's book seems to have gone missing in a previous crash, or otherwise, but I found a new copy : here

The Morrison/Reynolds 78s are fine, clean enough copies. I don't particularly collect 78s but I don't run away from them either if I stumble into them an find them at a reasonable price. I can't currently play them. I used to have a lovely Pathephone that came from my uncle but I gave that to a friend when we moved to the far West, it wouldn't have survived the atmosphere and the damp here. The 78s are sitting in a box on top of the bookshelves. I decided to put away the Mullaly disc that's been sitting on the table since I found it some time ago and found a bunch in there I had forgotten about. I decided I need to look after them a bit better and ordered a bunch of sleeves last night, rather than the mish mash of old newspaper, bubblewrap, cardboard, plastics bags and damaged original sleeves they're in now.
It's sort of nice to have the original physical objects but it's just more 'stuff' and I do tend to hoard that sort of thing a bit.


Author:  PB+J [ Sun Sep 01, 2019 4:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Instrument fashion in Irish music

O'Riada was a fascinating guy. He must have been a lot of fun to be around--talented, but not at all "diplomatic," and not one to let consistency stand in the way of a good argument.

And yes O'Neill came from a "strong farmer" background I guess you'd call it. It's a little puzzling because in his memoir he mentions at one point going to lake Erie in the US to work unloading coal, because his brother Philip was the boss of a work gang there. But Philip was the oldest and probably would have inherited the land, so what was he doing loading coal in Erie PA? That suggests to me that there might have been a reversal in the family's fortunes. As far as I can tell Philip died in the US. O'Neill doesn't speak of Philip with even the slightest warmth and describes the coal work as pretty brutal. O'Neill also at one point tells an interviewer that he left Ireland because Philip was taking part of the money Francis earned. So he came from a prosperous family but he had some distance from them.


Nicholas Carolan collected some more information on Selena. She had gone deaf by 1920, and apparently stopped playing. She worked for Pullman during WWII and family members have her ID card and work records. Francis writes that her brother was an excellent fiddler, better than she, but never wanted to practice. She'd be a very interesting subject of study herself, because she is beginning to establish a career for herself as a musician--there are posters featuring her, and she makes records. And then the deafness.

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