Paddy Cronin (fiddle, flute)
Mary Irwin (piano)
Fiddler Records – FRLP 002 – 1975
Recorded by Frank H. Ferrel in September 1975, this is an exceptionally rare recording of the famous Sliabh Luachra fiddler and flute player Paddy Cronin. He is joined on the record by Mary Irwin, who provides unexceptional vamped piano accompaniment, in accordance with the standards of the day. Nonetheless, it’s a nice record, with solid fiddling from an exceptional player. The highlight of the album for me is probably Paddy Cronin’s unique rendition of the Maid Behind the Bar, which he calls the Haymaker Reel. It’s closely related to the variant of the Maid commonly played in C major, which is known as Jimmy McBride’s. — Robert Ryan
Some interesting reminiscences from Frank Ferrel, found on thesession.org:
“Stationed in Boston during my stint in the Navy back in the mid-1960’s, I had occasion to frequent some of the music venues, not the least of which was the Greenville Tap in Dudley Square, then on its last legs as the demographics were rapidly changing and the predominantly Irish culture was moving to the suburbs. One of the frequent players there was Paddy Cronin. I watched and listened, and didn’t make his acquaintance until ten years later visiting Boston again with my wife and her family. Having developed a keen interest in the fiddle mix of New England, I got together with Mark Wilson and Bill Nowlan at Rounder Records, then in its infancy, borrowed a Revox reel-to-reel tape recorder from Bill, and Mark and I approached both Paddy and Franco-American fiddler Tommy Doucet about recording them. We set up in Paddy’s living room in West Roxbury, contacted local pianist, Mary Irwin, and set about recording Paddy. This was in 1974, well before internet forums, cell phones, or digital recording. Paddy insisted on including some home recordings of him playing flute. I remember we had a bit of a discussion about that, as I thought the difference in recording quality might detract from the overall sound, but Paddy persisted and we included his flute recordings in the final mix.
“Regarding the pianist, Mary Irwin, she was a staple of the Boston Gaelic community, originally from Cape Breton, she was a regular at both Irish and Canadian sessions. Her son, Eddie Irwin, was also a great player and can be heard on a number of recordings by Boston-based Cape Breton fiddler, Joe Cormier. I remember that she wouldn’t so the recording with Paddy unless we had his piano tuned. She was a perfectionist in that regard. A great example of her blending the Cape Breton style of melody doubling can be heard on their version of Tobin’s Jig, which is essentially a fiddle and piano duet.
“To take issue with “[…]’s” previous comment that the typos were probably not intentional, I included the tune titles as provided by Paddy – and once again, not being as fully immersed in the genre as some at the time, I trusted the source for grammar. It is wonderful that we now have the web to provide countless resources and forums for ethnomusicologists, both professional and amateur, who can comment, correct, and speculate as to spelling, sources, and folklore. As for myself, I’m content to simply play the fiddle these days, and leave the recording to others. Fiddler Records was an ill-fated hope and dream which I realized would take much more time and money than I could invest at the time. Fiddler 001 was Tommy Doucet, “The Down East Star,” and Fiddler 002 was the aforementioned Rakish Paddy. I’ve continued to produce a few recordings over the years, but always on some existing label.”
Submitted by Frank Ferrel.
SAMPLE: Here’s that Haymaker:
Download this out-of-print album: