The World of Paddy Murphy

Vive la France

After six years of working in France, I finally convinced Paddy Murphy to make 'a trip to the Common Market'. Along with allies Peadar O'Loughlin and Paddy Canny, he came in May 1991 to play at the International Traditional Music Festival at Ris Orangis outside Paris. All three defied the predictions of prophets back home who saw little chance of getting any one of them to Dublin, not alone all three to Paris. When asked if he would 'hit over to Paris' for the weekend, Murphy responded 'Well, sure, we might as well go. We mightn't get the chance again.' Sadly, his intuition was to prove him right. It was to be his last major trip outside of Clare. He passed away the following spring.

The idea of inviting solo musicians, as opposed to commercial super groups to Ris, was floated by French musicians Vincent Blin and Gilles Poutoux, both of whom were regular visitors to Ireland, especially, Vincent who had been to Paddy's home in Bealcragga. Welcomed by an excited entourage of French musicians, Paddy, Peter and Paddy played to a packed festival audience who had gathered in Paris from all over Europe. In between their gigs, Murphy took great delight in the subtleties of Kurdish folk dancing, while elsewhere in a global sea of sound, an Indonesian folk orchestra attracted the scrutiny of Canny and O'Loughlin. After playing into the small hours in the Quiet Man, the Parisian answer to Kearney's, all three turned out for mass the following morning at the Irish College in the old Latin Quarter of the city. Surrounded afterwards by a chatty bunch of young Irish emigrants in search of the new Europe, Murphy's interest in their careers was as sincere as if he had been discussing a promising harvest with a neighbour after first mass in Connolly.

Elsewhere among the shadows of the eighteenth-century collège stood a plaque to another forgotten Clareman, Jean Baptiste Walsh, a Killaloe priest who saved the Irish College from destruction during the French Revolution. It is crucial that seminal figures, overlooked by official history, such as Walsh and Murphy, be reinstated into our public memory and consciousness. Hopefully, this archive CD will return the concertina music of Paddy Murphy to a wider cultural space, not least, the now thriving world of the Irish concertina that he helped to create. As the seanchaí of old professed: is iomaí dual i súgán an ceoil - 'there are many strands in the rope of music'. In listening to these historic recordings, you too may discover some new strands in this older voice that continues to resonate across the vast landscape of Irish traditional music today.

The People:

Paddy Murphy

Peadar O'Loughlin

Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin

Tom Eustace

The Place:

Maps of Clare

Map of the Parish

The Music:

The World of Paddy Murphy

The Irish Concertina

Music News of the Time

Other Sites of Interest:

Celtic Crossings

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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Funding for the Paddy Murphy website was graciously provided
by a generous grant from the Irish Arts Council.