The 12th century chronicler Giraldus Cambrensis noted that Irish harpers were incomparably more skillful than any he had heard throughout Europe. Irish music was flourishing, and continued to flourish until the beginning of the 17th century, when it was outlawed because of the part taken by harpers, pipers and poets in the upsurge of Gaelic patriotism. In 1603, a proclamation was issued for the ‘extermination of all manner of bards and harpers’. Musical instruments were destroyed. Some relaxation around the middle of the century allowed travelling musicians obtain ‘letters of passage’ from local magistrates. Some later relaxation allowed Edward Bunting organize ‘The Belfast Harp Festival‘ in 1792. Bunting was first in a continuous chain of collectors reaching into the 20th century. Ballad singers hawked through markets, fairs and sporting occasions, gathering songs on themes of love, emigration, shipwreck, wars, murder and hangings. These are now our inheritance. [accordion]
Collectors itadmin 2014-04-27T11:20:59+00:00
John Edward Pigott (1822–1871), music collector, was born in Kilworth, Co. Cork. He became friendly with Thomas Davis of the Young Ireland movement. They published advertisements in The Nation asking those who had Irish tunes to send them in. This started the Pigott Collection. He studied for the Bar in London and while there, met Patrick McDowell who gave Pigot many tunes popular to among the Irish in London. In all, Pigott collected over 2,000 airs, most of which were included in the 1908 publication Old Irish Folk Music and Songs, by P.W. Joyce. I heard on a recent radio programme that he joined with piano maker Denis McCullough (originally from Belfast) to establish the musical instrument business McCullough Pigott of Suffolk Street, Dublin. However, the dates don’t add up because McCullough lived 1883-1968, and McCullough Pigott claims to be supplying the needs of musicians since 1823. Clarification needed.
George Petrie (1 January 1790 – 1866) was a painter, musician, antiquary and archaeologist. Born in Dublin, he lived at 21 Great Charles Street just off Mountjoy Square. His early career was spent producing sketches for engravings for travel books. From 1833 to 1843 he was employed as head of the Topographical Department (the antiquities division) of the Irish Ordnance Survey. He made a major contribution to Irish culture by collecting and recording Irish airs and melodies. As an artist, he can be considered as one of the finest Irish Romantic painters of his era. Some of his best work is now in the National Gallery of Ireland, such as his watercolour painting Gougane Barra Lake with the Hermitage of St. Finbarr, Co. Cork, 1831.
Francis O’Neill (August 28, 1848–January 28, 1936) was an Irish-born American police officer and collector of Irish traditional music. O’Neill was born in Tralibane, near Bantry, County Cork. At the age of 16, he became a cabin boy on an English merchant vessel. On a voyage to New York, he met Anna Rogers, a young emigrant who he later married in Bloomington, Illinois. The O’Neills moved to Chicago, and in 1873 O’Neill became a Chicago policeman. He rose through the ranks, eventually serving as the Chief of Police from 1901 to 1905. During his time as chief, O’Neill recruited many traditional Irish musicians into the police force. He also collected tunes from major performers and from a wide variety of printed sources. He retired from the police force in 1905, after which he devoted much time and energy to publishing the music he had collected. His publications include: O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903) The Dance Music of Ireland (1907) Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody (1922) Irish Folk Music: A Fascinating Hobby (1910) Irish Minstrels and Musicians (1913) O’Neill’s life is memorialized in the musical play Music Mad, which premiered in Chicago in 2012. In 2000, a life-size monument of Francis O’Neill playing a flute was unveiled next to the O’Neill family homestead in Tralibane, Co. Cork. The inaugural Chief O’Neill Traditional Music Festival was held at Bantry, Co. Cork in August 2013.
Patrick Weston Joyce (1827 – 7th January 1914) was an Irish historian, writer and music collector, known particularly for his research in local place names of Ireland. He was born in Ballyorgan in the Ballyhoura Mountains, on the borders of counties Limerick and Cork in Ireland, and grew up in nearby Glenosheen. The family claimed descent from one Seán Mór Seoighe (fl. 1680), a stonemason from Connemara, County Galway. Robert Dwyer Joyce was a younger brother. Joyce was a native Irish speaker who started his education at a hedge school. He then attended school in Mitchelstown, County Cork. Joyce started work in 1845 with the Commission of National Education. He became a teacher and principal of the Model School, Clonmel. In 1856 he was one of fifteen teachers selected to re-organize the national school system in Ireland. Meanwhile he earned his B.A. in 1861 and M.A. in 1863 from Trinity College, Dublin. He was principal of the Training College, Marlborough Street, in Dublin from 1874 to 1893. As a member of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language he wrote an Irish Grammar in 1878. He was President of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland from 1906 to 1908, an association of which he was a member from 1865. Joyce was a key cultural figure of his time. His wide interests included the Irish language, Hiberno-English, music, education, Irish literature and folklore, Irish history and antiquities, place-names and much else. He produced many works on the history and culture of Ireland. His most enduring work is the pioneering The Origin and History of Irish Names of Places The P.W. Joyce collection at the Cregan Library in St Patricks’ College, Drumcondra, Dublin, reflects many of Joyce’s interests and includes many rarities. These include autographed presentation copies by P.W. Joyce and his brother Robert Dwyer Joyce and books from P.W. Joyce’s own library. The collection also contains nine manuscripts associated with P.W. Joyce and his family members, including a very fine manuscript in Joyce’s hand of Echtra Cormaic itir Tairngiri agus Ceart Claíd Cormaic (Adventures of Cormac in the Land of Promise), a passage from the Book of Ballymote which Joyce translated into English.
Herbert Hughes (16 May 1882 – 1 May 1937), Irish composer, music critic and collector of folk songs, is today best remembered for his collection and arrangement of three celebrated Irish songs, My Lagan Love, She Moved Through the Fair and Down By The Salley Gardens. Born in Belfast, he graduated at the London Royal College of Music in 1901. He worked as a music critic for The Daily Telegraph from 1911 to 1932. He started collecting traditional airs and transcribing folk songs in North Donegal in August 1903. Dedicated to seeking out and recording such ancient melodies as were yet to be found in the more remote glens and valleys of Ulster, he produced Songs of Uladh in 1904. He was one of the founders of the Irish Folksong Society in 1904, and himself collected and set down hundreds of traditional melodies.
Sam Henry (1870–1952) was an Irish folk-song collector, photographer and folklorist, best known for his collection of ballads and songs in Songs of the People. His is the largest and most comprehensive collection of folk-songs from Northern Ireland between the wars. Songs of the People was a series which ran from 1923 to 1939 in the Coleraine newspaper The Northern Constitution. For twelve of those years the editor was Sam Henry who contributed upwards of 500 songs of high quality. Although the songs were collected in a single district around Coleraine, there is a great amount of diversity, which includes native Irish songs and songs of foreign origin. Henry continued to collect and annotate songs after the newspaper series finished.
Frank Harte, born in Dublin on 14 May 1933, was a traditional Irish singer and song collector. His father Peter Harte owned ‘The Tap’ pub in Chapelizod. Frank worked as an architect and lecturer at Dublin Institute of Technology in Rathmines. He rejoiced in the tradition of songs that tell of the joys, sorrows, tragedies and battles of an oppressed and down-trodden people. He believed that songs were a key to understanding the past, often saying “those in power write the history, while those who suffer write the songs.” He first encountered traditional songs in his father’s pub in Chapelizod and realized that songs needed to be gathered and shared to survive and prosper. He died of a heart attack, aged 72, on 27 June 2005. The Frank Harte Festival is organised each September by members of An Góilín Traditional Singer’s Club in Dublin.
Edward Bunting (1773–1843) was an Irish musician and folk music collector. Born in County Armagh, he was apprentice organist at St. Anne’s church in Belfast at age eleven. Being classically trained, he was engaged to transcribe music at the Belfast Harp Festival in 1792. He subsequently went on a number of collecting tours between 1792 and 1807, and was the first to transcribe music ‘in the field’. Realising the importance of the Irish words to the songs, he engaged Patrick Lynch to collect these. He lived in Belfast with the family of Henry Joy McCracken until his marriage in 1819, after which he moved to Dublin where he held the post of organist at St. George’s Church. He died in Dublin on 21 December 1843 and is buried at the Cemetery of Mount Jerome, Dublin. Bunting’s papers were lost for many years, but were rediscovered in 1907 and currently reside in the library of Queen’s University of Belfast.
I can find no information on Colm O’Lochlainn other than what I found on the 1911 Census of Ireland. It would appear he was born 1885 (age 26 on 1911 census), was from Lettermore in County Galway and was son on of Pádraic and Máire O’Lochlainn. He compiled two collections of Irish Street Ballads, the first of which was published in 1939 by The Three Candles Limited and the second, also published by The Three Candles Limited was in 1965. The two collections were published as one volume in paperback by Pan Books Limited in 1984 as THE COMPLETE IRISH STREET BALLADS. This is the finest collection I have found and is the backbone of my County Song collection.)
Michael J. Moran (1794 – 1846), popularly known as Zozimus, was an Irish street rhymer. He was a resident of Dublin and also known as the “Blind Bard of the Liberties” and the “Last of the Gleemen”. Born circa 1794 in Faddle Alley off the Black Pits in Dublin’s historic Liberties, he lived in Dublin all his life. At two weeks old he was blinded by illness. However, he developed an astounding memory for verse and he made his living reciting poems. He performed all over Dublin including Essex Bridge, Wood Quay, Church Street, Dame Street, Capel Street, Sackville Street, Grafton Street, Henry Street, and Conciliation Hall. He died on 3 April 1846 at his lodgings in 15 Patrick Street, aged around 52, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. His grave remained unmarked until the late 1960s when traditional Irish band The Dublin City Ramblers erected a tombstone in his memory. The grave is still intact in the “Poor Ground” of the cemetery and can be located using the co-ordinates AG 30 South, not far from Daniel O’Connell’s burial site. His epitaph reads: “My burying place is of no concern to me, In the O’Connell circle let it be, As to my funeral, all pomp is vain, Illustrious people does prefer it plain” Moran’s nickname derived from a poem written by Anthony Coyle, in which God sent Zosimas of Palestine to hear the confession of Saint Mary of Egypt and give her Holy Communion. Moran recited the poem so well he became known as “Zozimus” Some of his rhymes still survive in songs such as “Saint Patrick was a Gentleman”, “The Twangman”, “Ye Men of Sweet Liberties Hall” and “The Finding of Moses”.
Sean O’Boyle, born in Belfast on June 9, 1908, attended St. Mary’s College and Queen’s University. He was teacher of Irish music at Colaiste Bhride, Ronn na Feirste from 1937 to 1945. In 1952, BBC commissioned him to make a recorded survey of Ulster folk music, much of which was included in the very successful BBC series ‘As I roved out’.
Micho Russell (March 15, 1915 – February 19, 1994) was an Irish musician and author best known for his expert tin whistle performance. He also played the simple-system flute and was a collector of traditional music and folklore. Russell was born in Doonagore, Doolin, County Clare. Russell came from a musically renowned family, his mother played the concertina, and his father was a sean-nós singer. He had two brothers, Packie and Gussie, who were also musicians. He also had two sisters. He never married. Russell taught himself to play the tin whistle by ear starting at age eleven. The 1960s revival of Irish traditional music brought him attention and performance opportunities. In 1973, Russell won the All-Ireland tin whistle competition, which further increased demand for his performances. Like Séamus Ennis, Russell was also known for his spoken introductions to tunes in his live performances, which incorporated folklore and legend. His knowledge of tradition extended past music to language, stories, dance, herbal lore, and old country cures. Russell died in a car accident in 1994. “Micho Russell’s Reel,” his only known composition, is a variant of an older tune he called “Carthy’s Reel.” He told Charlie Piggott, “…So Carthy was beyond anyway and he heard the old tune from a piper playing it and he had the first part but only three-quarters of the second part. So when Séamus Ennis came around collecting music, I put in the last bit. That’s roughly the story of the tune.” The reel has been recorded by other artists such as Mary Bergin. His best-known songs were John Phillip Holland and The Well of Spring Water.[/accordion]