A lovely recording of very traditional playing by two musicians from Gib, near Killarney, made in 1977, and sadly still unavailable on CD. There are no reels at all, and only one set of double jigs – the rest of the album consists almost exclusively of Kerry slides and polkas played with the strong rhythmic emphasis on the backbeat characteristic of the Sliabh Luachra region. It is very clear from their sparse, unobscured style that these musicians are of that generation whose music was played, at least publicly, for purposes of dancing, rather than for simply the pleasure of listening. — Robert Ryan
Recorded between 1964 and 1976 this album features fiddler Julia Clifford, sister of Denis Murphy, her husband John on accordion, and their son Billy on flute. Much of it was recorded around a single microphone in Eric and Lucy Farr’s kitchen, so the sound quality isn’t brilliant, but the quality of the music shines through, and Julia Clifford’s playing is, as always, a thing of beauty. — Robert Ryan
There’s some pretty in-depth notes by Alan Ward starting on page 26 of his Topic booklet here.
This is the third installment of Topic’s Music from Sliabh Luachra series, and features the playing of husband and wife John and Julia Clifford, accompanied on piano by Reg Hall. It was recorded between 1975 and 1976, and most of the tracks were put down on two separate occasions in London, apart from track 10, which was recorded at Jack Lyons’ Bar, Scartaglin, and track 20, recorded at Dan Connell’s Bar, Knocknagree. The tunes on this album were all familiar to the Cliffords before they left Lisheen, Co. Kerry, with the exception of ‘Tap the Barrel’, a reel they picked up whilst living in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick, between 1953 and 1958. So, unlike The Star of Munster Trio, which consists almost entirely of tunes well-known on the London Irish music scene in the 1970s, this album gives an insight into the repertoire of the Sliabh Luachra region as it was played in the 1930s. As is to be expected, a number of tunes are associated with the Sliabh Luachra fiddle master, Pádraig O’Keeffe, from whom both Julia and her brother, Denis Murphy, learned their music. The production on the album is very basic, and the playing is fresh and unrehearsed, but the casual brilliance of Julia Clifford’s playing is an absolute joy to behold. — Robert Ryan
There’s some pretty in-depth notes by Alan Ward starting on page 28 of his Topic booklet here.
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
RTÉ – CD174 – 1993 Tracks 2, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, and 15 were recorded 12 September 1948, and the remainder on 29 January 1949. Extensive biographical essay and notes by Peter Browne.
A deleted recording of the Sliabh Luachra fiddle player and teacher taken from RTÉ archive recordings made by Séamus Ennis between 1947 and 1949. This is absolutely brilliant Sliabh Luachra music, and the final set of tunes – a duet with Denis Murphy – is a classic. — Robert Ryan
An exceptional album, mostly featuring duets played by the Sliabh Luachra fiddle player Julia Clifford, and her son Billy. One of the album’s most remarkable charms is the way in which Billy’s flute matches exactly the rhythm, phrasing, and ornamentation of his mother’s fiddle on the many sets of Sliabh Luachra slides and polkas that they play together. In many respects it is the way in which Billy plays the fiddle on the flute that makes his music here so distinctive and so wonderful to hear, and the closeness of the communication between the two musicians is truly exceptional. Together with The Star Above the Garter, and Denis Doody’s Kerry Music, this is one of my all-time favourite recordings of Sliabh Luachra music. — Robert Ryan