Denis Murphy

Denis Murphy (November 14, 1910 – April 7, 1974) was born in Lisheen, Gneeveguilla, County Kerry one of eight children of Bill and Mainie (née Corbett) Murphy. The family were known locally as the “Waivers” (to distinguish them from the many other Murphy clans in the area) because in previous generations they had been weavers of flax linen. His father Bill played fife, flute and fiddle and had a fife and drum band, and it’s likely that Denis got much of his early music from his father. Later, he and his sister Julia Clifford were taught fiddle by Pádraig O’Keeffe. Denis emigrated to the United States but returned often to Ireland and returned permanently to Lisheen in 1965. He struck up a musical partnership with box player Johnny O’Leary which lasted for many years until his death. Denis was recorded extensively for the radio and commercial recordings, and his driving, frictionless style has been hugely influential

 Learned from: Bill “The Weaver” Murphy, Pádraig O’Keeffe

 Played with: Julia Clifford, Johnny O’Leary


Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford star above the garter 300  Denis Murphy Music from Sliabh Luachra 300  Kerry Fiddles 300  

Lyons' Bar 1961 300

More resources:

Snippets of field recordings

Alan Ward’s overview of Sliabh Luachra music, with an extensive section on The Waivers


3 thoughts on “Denis Murphy

  1. This is our true culture. I knew Denis and Julia when I was a young fellow in Newmarket. They used call to our pub as they claimed a relationship with my mother who was born Bridie Lane from Knocknenaugh Kiskeam. Her father was Willie Thomas Lan e (bonesetter).


  2. Thanks very much for your comment. You’re right in the thick of it there in Kiskeam, surrounded by music and history. Glad to hear you treasure your connection with the Weavers of Lisheen–lucky you!


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