Molly Myers Murphy

Molly Myers (1916-2002) was a fiddle player originally from Killeagh between Farranfore and Cullane who learned her music predominantly from Tom Billy Murphy. She began lessons with Tom Billy at the age of 10 and soon became something of a star pupil of his. The recordings she left behind indicate that she seems to have retained the style and repertoire of Tom Billy, and it is through her music and that of a few other pupils that we can get the best sense of what the playing of Tom Billy might have been like. She married Tom’s nephew Willy Murphy and went to live with him in Glencollins, Ballydesmond. Over the years she transcribed a great number of Tom Billy’s tunes. She provided many of these to Breandán Breathnach for Ceol Rince na hÉireann, and the collection is said to reside in the Traditional Music Archive in Dublin.

(I have one source, unconfirmed as of this date, that she was also a student of Pádraig O’Keeffe, at least for a time. This source claims that she had a large collection of O’Keeffe manuscripts which were donated to the ITMA. I could see how the source may have confused O’Keeffe with Tom Billy in this assertion. Certainly she was known to express personal disdain for O’Keeffe on moral grounds later in life, but that in itself doesn’t preclude the possibility that she may have had lessons from him at some point. Further research is merited!)

Learned from: Tom Billy Murphy, (maybe Pádraig O’Keeffe)

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