Cal O’Callaghan

Callaghan O’Callaghan (b.1863, d.?) lived in Doonasleen (commonly called Doon), County Cork. He had been a pupil of Corney Drew, and was a highly-regarded fiddler who played for local house parties and dances. As a young man, Cal had emigrated to Ohio and lived there for about 20 years. It’s thought that when he returned sometime in the 1880s he may have brought some American fiddle style and repertoire with him, and that some of these made their way into the Sliabh Luachra tradition. The entire Callaghan family played music, including his sister, Margaret, who married John O’Keeffe in 1887 and soon had her first child, Pádraig O’Keeffe. When Pádraig was young, he was sent to stay with his Callaghan relatives in Doon, a common custom at the time known as “fosterage” (“altramas” in Irish). This was a formative period for Pádraig , surrounded by a loving and entertaining family, in contrast to his domineering father, in a house where dances and parties were frequent. It was there that he received his first musical tutelage from his aunts and uncles, particularly Cal. The many “Doon” and “Callaghan’s” tunes are a testament to his influence.

Learned from: Corney Drew

TaughtPadraig O’Keeffe

Callaghan household census 1911
The Callaghan household in the 1911 census

Some of the many Callaghan’s and Doon tunes.

Paul De Grae has written an interesting rumination on the influence Cal’s stay in Ohio may have had on the Sliabh Luachra tradition.

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