The World of Paddy Murphy

Gramophones and American 78's

Murphy's early repertoire was essentially local and self-contained. New tunes often took a long time to reach isolated rural players. As gramophones and records from the Roarin' Twenties finally filtered into Ireland from America, cult figures like Michael Coleman and James Morrison, Paddy Killoran and William J. Mullaly found keen imitators back home. Records often arrived inside the ubiquitous parcel from America and were immediately sought out by young players, while houses with gramophones became instant sanctuaries of learning. Some elders, on the other hand, abandoned their fiddles and flutes after hearing the sheer exuberance of American players.

To Murphy and his cohorts, a new 78' was a novelty to be sought out at any cost. 'They were very important because they were the only sources we had in those days of learning something new. I remember Coleman's Lord Gordon came out around that time and we thought it was the greatest thing ever. Bonnie Kate and Jenny's Chickens were also favourites. Then, of course, the early Ballinakill records were great. I suppose we were fairly quick to pick up the tunes from these records but I'd have to hear a tune fairly often to get it. We had one great advantage though because there was group of us here around the neighbourhood. When a new record came into the place, all the lads would gather into a house to hear it. So, when you'd have a group of us trying to learn at the same time, what one would miss, the other fellow would have it and between us, we'd work it out fairly quick.' As companies like Columbia and EMI shifted the frontiers of the recording industry across the Atlantic to London and Dublin in the 1930s, musicians based in Ireland finally heard their music on disc. These included Leo Rowsome, Frank O'Higgins and Neilie Boyle, as well as ensembles like the Ballinakill Traditional Players and the Aughrim Slopes Céilí Band from east Galway. As the depression lifted in America in the late 1930s, younger emigrants like Hughie Gillespie followed Coleman and Morrison onto the recording roster. Their 78's were grist to the mill for musicians like Paddy Murphy, Mickey Hanrahan and their friends.

The People:

Paddy Murphy

Peadar O'Loughlin

Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin

Tom Eustace

The Place:

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The Music:

The World of Paddy Murphy

The Irish Concertina

Music News of the Time

Other Sites of Interest:

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Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin

The World of Paddy Murphy

An essay by:

Dr. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin, MBA, Ph.D.
Smurfit Stone Professor of Irish Studies & Professor of Music
Center for International Studies, University of Missouri-St. Louis

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