Jerry McCarthy

Jerry McCarthy (1926-1995) could be the most criminally overlooked Sliabh Luachra fiddler of his generation. He was arguably as accomplished a musician as his teacher, Pádraig O’Keeffe, but he never gained the global acclaim some of his contemporaries did. Paudie O’Connor, master accordionist and scholar of Sliabh Luachra music, contributes a biographical essay befitting the great man:

Jerry Finbarr McCarthy was born 25th September 1926.He was the youngest of 6 children, 3 boys and 3 girls. His father Jeremiah was a farmer and his mother, Catherine Keane, was a homemaker who was from Currow. (Incidentally, Catherine Keane was grand aunt of the great rugby player Moss Keane. Jerry and all the family were very proud of Moss and his rugby achievements). Jerry grew up in a townland called Gortgloss (An Gort Glas, also anglicised Gortglass, meaning the green fields). Jerry’s home place is situated on the top of a hill with breathtaking views of the whole county of Kerry. One can see as far as Castlemaine on a clear day. It is situated 9 kms from Castleisland and 5km from Scartaglin. The farm where Jerry grew in was originally one farm of 100 acres. His grandfather divided the farm between two of his sons. The original home of the McCarthys can be dated back to 1840. This house is now occupied by Sonny McCarthy, his first cousin. Jerry’s father built a dwelling house on the divided farm. Jerry had a very simple upbringing. He really enjoyed the land and all things associated with it, milking cows, saving hay, going to the bog. His faith was very important to him. Family rosary was recited nightly. He had a great love of greyhounds and nature. He went to school every day through the fields to Scartaglin. His teachers included Mrs. Griffin and Ned Murphy. He often brought the fiddle to school to play.

Jerry showed a keen interest in music from a very early age. His father and aunts played concertina. They would often play music in Gortgloss. His brothers or sisters did not play. From a very early age Jerry use to pretend to play the fiddle with two sticks. On seeing this, his mother decided to send him to fiddle lessons. One of his first music teachers was Sr. Loyola, a presentation nun who was a secondary school teacher in Castleisland. Traditional music was very important in the area at the time. Musicians would ramble from house to house to provide entertainment. Pádraig O’Keeffe, the well-known fiddle master taught music to many of Jerry’s neighbours. Jerry had developed a huge respect for Pádraig O’Keefe and he passed on his love of music to Jerry. Pádraig taught in many of the local houses including the O’Connors and O’ Connells. He would come up to the house once every 3 weeks and writ e out a tune.

Jerry began to make a name for himself as a young adult, winning local feiseanna and fleadhs. In 1949 he won a gold medal at the Oireachtas. This was a huge honour for him and his county. He was extremely proud of this achievement. (Unfortunately these medals and other medals and trophies he had won were stolen in a robbery at his apartment in New York in the 1970’s.) He played with the O’Rahilly ceili band for a short time. Also, he began to play on a regular basis for Radio Éireann . These programmes included Den Joes ‘Take the floor’, The Seamus Ennis programme and ‘Beginners Please’. Many of these were live broadcasts and many in the area can remember the excitement that a local lad was playing on the radio and gathering around the radio to listen to him. The late Ciaran MacMathuna also made recordings of him in Kerry and later in New York. Ciaran recalled in a 1995 programme of ‘Mo Ceol Thu’, first recording Jerry at a fleadh in Kenmare in 1955. Since Jerry could not drive Ciaran would collect him and they would travel to local sessions. Ciaran recalled, on that same programme, travelling to a session in Limerick one dark winters night. Jerry was playing the fiddle in the car when a cow appeared and Ciaran hit the cow. The cow was alright, the car was only slightly damaged. Jerry forgot the fiddle was on the seat and sat on it. That was the end of the fiddle (which was borrowed.) On another occasion Jerry played for Queen Salote of Tonga when she visited Killarney. She invited him to Tonga. He never made it. A journey a bit too far for a Kerryman.

When Jerry left school he worked as an insurance salesman. He worked for ‘Direct Life’ He would travel on his bike collecting money from neighbours and friends. He travelled to Castleisland, Cordal, Knocknagoshel and Ballydesmond. He was very popular in the area because of his music. A quiet man with a great sense of humour and always great for a yarn. He wasn’t materialistic and would give you the last penny in his pocket.

Jerry’s social life revolved around music. His neighbour and very good friend Timmy Spillane played music in local houses. Timmy played the button accordion. He was a bachelor who also lived in Gortgloss. Everyone loved the music and there was music in most households at the time. Another neighbour, Maggie O’Connor, really loved it when Jerry and Timmy called to her house. She has fond memories of Jerry arriving with his fiddle under his arm. Maggie loved their music so much that she bought a reel to reel recorder especially to record their music. These recordings are of excellent quality. They were recorded in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Maggie recalls travelling into Tralee to buy the recorder and buying the reel tapes. Jerry used to ramble into other houses in the area including O’Connors of Gortgloss and O’Connells in Cordal. Pádraig O’Keefe also taught the fiddle in these houses. Maggie recalls when Jerry and Timmy played the tune ‘The cup of tea’ it was time for her to stop listening to the music and put the kettle on!

Jerry decided to immigrate to England in the early 1960’s. His oldest brother Florry was now married in the homeplace and had several children. His father died on 1st Aug 1956. His mother at this stage was still alive. She died in 9 Sept 1970. His niece Noreen recalls Jerry becoming very upset when leaving Kerry, his family and friends but especially his home. Jerry spent time in Manchester and London. He stayed with fellow Kerry citizens. After a time he followed his two sisters Eileen and Peggy over to New York. There he worked as a security man, working for a time with the fiddle player Denis ‘The Weaver’ Murphy. They guarded the Mona Lisa when the portrait visited the Big Apple. When Denis told the story back home in Kerry, he said “They weren’t coming to look at the “Mona Lisa” at all; they were coming to see McCarthy”. (Jerry also worked with Denis for a time at the Bronx Zoo, and was fond of telling the story of Denis and the lion. It seems that on this occasion they had been out playing all night and came straight from the pubs in to work. Denis soon was asleep on his feet, and Jerry kindly brought him to a cosy, out-of-the-way spot to catch a few winks. This happened to be a cage shared by the zoo’s lion. Never mind that the poor animal was elderly and had lost all its teeth and claws from malnutrition. Denis didn’t know that, and his sleepiness was soon banished entirely! -ed.)

Jerry played music in Irish clubs and on Irish radio stations. He also had the honour of playing music in Carnegie hall on several occasions. Jerry met his wife Lena at a football match in 1965 in Gaelic park. They married in 1966 and had one daughter. They resided in an apartment in Valentines Ave and later in the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. This was mainly an Irish and Jewish community at the time. His daughter has memories of being brought to an Irish centre for All Ireland football finals when Jerry’s county were playing. He was a proud Kerry man and was a walking encyclopaedia on Kerry football. Jerry would return to Kerry on holidays from New York armed with his fiddle.

The community in the Bronx was changing in the mid 1970’s. Many of the Irish were moving out and being replaced by a new Hispanic community. The fast pace of life did not suit Jerry’s easy going temperament and he longed to return to Ireland. His two sisters Lena and Siobhan had already returned in 1977 to look after their sister Theresa who was terminally ill, and Jerry returned in 1978. He secured employment with the Electricity Supply Board in Dublin as a security man. He cycled most days to the ESB head office in Mount Street until his retirement in 1991. The family resided in St. Brendan’s Drive, Coolock, in Dublin. Interestingly, many of his neighbours were from Kerry. One of which was the great seanachai, Eamonn Kelly.

When he returned to Ireland his social life revolved around his music. He became great friends with the Chief Executive of the ESB, Paddy Moriarty (brother of the great radio commentator Micheal). Paddy would ask Jerry to play at ESB functions. He got involved every year with the ESB Tops of the Towns. He became a member of the Cluain Tarbh branch of Comhaltas. They held weekly sessions in the North Star Hotel on Amiens Street and later in the Maples hotel in Glasnevin. He also played every Tuesday night with the Sean Tracey branch of Comhaltas. As he did not drive he always depended on lifts. His friend Jimmy Markey would collect him every Tuesday night and the late great step dancer Donncha O’Muineachain would leave him home. He became friends with the piper Leon Rowsome (son of the renowned Leo Rowsome) who lived in nearby Artane and they met up for many a session. Leon died exactly a year before Jerry. Eamonn Kelly always presented Jerry with tickets to his opening nights in the Abbey Theatre. On a few occasions Jerry recorded music for Eamonn’s one-man shows. There was always a great meeting of Kerry people after Eamonn’s shows in the local pub in Abbey Street. Jerry always loved to meet up after such shows with another great Kerry friend, the late Con Houlihan. Jerry was always a great man for putting pen to paper and often wrote to Con, who would publish extracts of these letters in his Evening Press column. They would be about life at home in Kerry and Sliabh Luachra.

When Jerry returned to Ireland he took every opportunity to visit his beloved Kerry. He stayed with his sisters on these visits. He would write a letter beforehand to his friend Denis O’Connor who plays banjo. Jerry often played with Denis’s father Maurice, another fiddle player who was a pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe. Denis would receive the letter a few days before hand. In it would be instructions when, where, and what time he wanted to be collected at. Denis would arrive at the appointed time and off they went to all parts of the county playing music. Denis has fond memories of this. Jerry voiced concerns to Denis that he had forgotten tunes he played before he went to America. Denis agreed that this was the case. Jerry never heard Maggie O’Connor’s recordings of him playing, but they verify that he played tunes in the 1950’s that he never played in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

One of Jerry’s memorable musical engagements was being asked to play music in the film ‘How many miles to Babylon’ starring a very young Daniel Day-Lewis. (1981) He enjoyed being collected every day and driven out to Ardmore Studios in Wicklow. Daniel Day-Lewis went on to win an Oscar for his role in ‘My left foot’. Jerry maintained that only for Daniel meeting the great Kerryman and hearing his music he wouldn’t be the great Oscar-winning actor that he is today. Jerry really enjoyed receiving his royalty cheques from that film for years afterwards as it was sold worldwide.

Jerry retired from the ESB in 1991. He had more time for his love of music, sport, politics and gardening. He could grow everything and anything and his lawn was like a golf course. Jerry loved the GAA and would listen to all the matches on Sunday on his transistor radio as they were not shown on the television at the time. He recorded many of the Kerry matches on his tape recorder. Jerry spent hours every day playing music in his bedroom with the curtains closed. Interestingly, Pádraig O’Keeffe was said to have had the same habit.

Jerry continued to make recordings for RTE for programmes such as ‘Mo Cheol Thu’, ‘Ceili House’ and was part of a television programme which was recorded in Dingle. This can be seen in series 7 of ‘Come West Along the Road’. Jerry enjoyed playing all types of traditional music, but he had a very distinctive Sliabh Luachra style of playing. His air playing was very special and his party piece was ‘An Chuilfhionn’ He loved playing polkas and slides and would have very unusual variations of these tunes. He would play a tune and change key mid-way. Jerry was also a beautiful singer. He loved singing Shanagolden. He would play the tune first on the fiddle, sing the 5 or 6 verses and finish it off by playing it on the fiddle again. During the latter years of his life his little finger on his left hand became problematic. He couldn’t use this finger when playing B’. This frustrated him and he often tried to use his knuckle when playing this note.

Jerry’s health began to fail soon after his retirement. A life-long smoker, he developed emphysema and later lung cancer. He spent his final few weeks of his life in his beloved Kerry. He returned to Dublin just before he died and had a very peaceful death. He passed away on Good Friday 14th April 1995.

Learned from: Pádraig O’Keeffe
Taught: Denis “The Hat” McMahon

Paddy Jones

Paddy Jones (1947-2020) was the youngest of Pádraig O’Keeffe’s students. He was born in Knightsmountain, north of Castleisland, and he showed an interest in the music from a young age. Being from a musical family, this interest was encouraged, and he was sent to lessons with the fiddle master which were to have a long-lasting effect. Though he discontinued the lessons after three years out of frustration with his master’s peripatetic lifestyle, he nonetheless maintained a fondness for Pádraig, and helped look after him in his last days. He later continued his musical education with Pat and Willie O’Connell in nearby Cordal, and learned to read staff notation while in school which enabled him to expand his repertoire and scholarship considerably. As he developed in his music, he was able to play with a number of the older generation, including Jack O’Connell of The Lighthouse who mentored him and encouraged him to study of the music and heritage of Sliabh Luachra, but also to appreciate good music no matter where it came from. Like O’Keeffe, Paddy was a great exponent and master of the subtle art of the slow air. He didn’t limit himself to air melodies traditionally played in Sliabh Luachra, but found tunes from far and wide and adapted them the the local style to great effect. His great curiosity led him to explore the world, both geographically and intellectually, but he always maintained a particular love and interest in his native music. It was perhaps only natural that he himself would become a teacher and lecturer, and he developed a great number of the younger generation into excellent and thoughtful members of the Sliabh Luachra tradition. He was honored for his lifelong commitment to the culture of Sliabh Luachra at the 2016 Patrick O’Keeffe festival in Castleisland.

Learned from: Pádraig O’Keeffe, Pat and Willie O’Connell, Jack O’Connell

An interesting lecture by Paddy on the music of Sliabh Luachra. You can read the transcript here.

A series of conversations with Eoin Stan O’Sullivan on a wide range of topics; a window into Paddy Jones’ mind:

Paddy Cronin

Paddy Cronin (1925-2014) was originally from Ré Buí (Reaboy) near Gneeveguilla and a student of Pádraig O’Keeffe. He is best known for his fiddling, but played the flute as well. He came from a musical family–his brother younger Johnny would become a celebrated fiddler himself. Their mother Hannie (née Nagle), originally from Gortdarrig, far to the south, was a concertina player and singer, and both parents encouraged their children in taking up the music. Con McCarthy was also a frequent visitor to the household and an early influence on Paddy. A fiddle was procured for his use, and soon it was decided to send for O’Keeffe to train him. In later life, Paddy recalled their first encounter, when Pádraig came around to the Glountane School and called in through the window, “Send out young Cronin!” He soon impressed O’Keeffe as an eager and talented student, and it wasn’t long before young Cronin was brought out to local house dances (“biddy dances, snap apple nights, thresher dances and the like,” in Paddy’s recollection) to play with his teacher and his fellow students Denis Murphy and Johnny O’Leary.

In 1948 Seamus Ennis was collecting music in Sliabh Luachra and he recorded Paddy in a farmer’s house near Ballyvourney playing a pair of slides which were later played on Radio Eireann. Soon after, realizing he could no longer support himself in the struggling Irish economy, Paddy emigrated to the U.S. in 1949. He would spend about 40 years in the Sligo-dominated Boston music scene. In his formative years in Kerry he and his friend Denis Murphy had studied intensely the recordings of Coleman and Morrison, but now he was immersed in that tradition. His mature style developed to incorporate both the Sliabh Luachra and Sligo influences. He also seems to have absorbed some aesthetic aspects of the playing of musicians from Nova Scotia. While living in Boston he recorded a number of influential 78s and LPs. He became well respected for his high standard of playing, for his deep knowledge of the music, and for his distinct and well-crafted tune settings. He eventually returned to live in Killarney where he enjoyed a place of honor at every session and musical event until his death in 2014.

Learned from: Pádraig O’Keeffe, Con McCarthy

An episode of RTE’s The Rolling Wave on the subject of Paddy Cronin:

A fairly hilarious yet informative lecture on Paddy Cronin given by Nicky McAuliffe with an introduction by his friend Donal O’Connor, with numerous interjections and digressions from the man himself, as well as a number of clips of his early recordings. (audio only)

Excerpted from the above lecture, Paddy plays a setting of the O’Carolan composition Colonel Irwin. (audio only)

Paddy plays his own reel (audio only)


Paddy Cronin Rakish Paddy 300  Paddy Cronin Kerry's Own 300 Paddy Cronin Radio Éireann in 1949 Paddy Cronin Copley recordingsPaddy Cronin - Music in the GlenPaddy Cronin - The House in the Glen

In his own words: Paddy Cronin – My Life and Music

Link: A very interesting and well-researched article by Matt Cranitch on Paddy Cronin’s fiddle style

Art O’Keeffe

Art O’Keeffe (born sometime around 1903), sometimes called “Aut”, was a neighbor and family friend of the Weaver Murphys of Lisheen. As a fellow musician, he would have shared many a tune with that storied clan. It’s probable he was at least a sometime pupil of Tom Billy’s, though he could have got his music from any number of less exalted sources. He is known today as having been a whistle player, though he also could play the fiddle and was a respected singer as well. He was a member of the Lisheen Fife and Drum Band captained by Bill “The Weaver” Murphy, and long after the band was defunct he could still play the tunes and arrangements with composed passages from the old days. In 1952, when Billy Clifford was sent from his home in London to stay with his widowed grandmother, Art O’Keeffe befriended him and no doubt shared with him the music Billy’s family had played in the generations before him. In 1974 he played a tune at the funeral of Denis Murphy, but after that I have no records of his doings, and I have not been able to determine the date of his death. He was recorded singing two songs for the BBC in 1947, and also provided a number of tunes to Breandán Breathnach’s collection, but in general he was not as celebrated a personage as his neighbors, the Murphys. However, a number tunes in the common repertoire still bear his name, so in that way, at least, he left his mark on the tradition.

LEARNED FROM: Tom Billy Murphy  

PLAYED WITH: Bill The Weaver, Danny Ab, Denis Murphy, Julia Clifford  

TAUGHT: Billy Clifford

Art O'Keeffe surrounded by Waivers
Art O’Keeffe surrounded by Waivers

Mick Buckley

Mick Buckley (~1925-1950) was a student of Pádraig O’Keeffe from Knocknageeha, just north of Gneeveguilla. He was known to be a gifted musician, and could be found Sunday nights playing at the dance hall at Lackagh Cross with Pádraig, Denis Murphy, and John Clifford. Johnny O’Leary played a few polkas which he reckoned he got from Buckley. Whether he would have turned out to be as acclaimed a musician as his neighbors, we will never know, for he died of tuberculosis at a young age.

LEARNED FROM: Pádraig O’Keeffe

PLAYED WITH: John Clifford, Denis Murphy

Two polkas from Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra

Donal O’Connor

Donal O’Connor (b.1935) was born in Carrigeen, Brosna and can trace his musical lineage back to the travelling fiddle master Graddy through his father Paddy Jerry O’Connor who learned from his mother, Ellen Guiney, from Knockawinna, Brosna, who in turn had been Graddy’s pupil. Donal and his three older brothers were all taught fiddle from an early age and soon were playing with their father in dance-halls, house parties, and weddings in the Brosna area.

In the early 60s Donal and his late brother Patrick founded the popular and prize-winning Brosna Ceili Band. The original lineup of the Brosna Céilí Band included Patrick and Donal on fiddle, Neilus O’Connor, Aeneas O’Connell, ‘Big Pat’ Moriarty on mouthorgan, Nicky McAuliffe; Mick Mulcahy, and Micheal O hEidhin on piano, with vocals from Mary McQuinn (aka Maida Sugrue) and Séan Ahern. They won the All-Ireland in 1972.

Soon after the All-Ireland, Donal tried his hand as a publican at the Sliabh Luachra Bar in the heart of Listowel. For a while it was a popular spot for musicians from all over Kerry to meet and play. Today Donal lives in Limerick City and is a fixture of the music scene there.

Learned from: Paddy Jerry O’Connor
Played with: Nicky McAuliffe; Mick Mulcahy, Denis Doody

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)

Jack ‘The Lighthouse’ Connell

Jack Connell (1906-1994) took his nickname from his home in Meendurragh, just north of Ballydesmond, known locally as “The Lighthouse”. The village sits at a high point along the Cork/Tralee road, and in days gone by a lantern was indeed kept lit to direct carriages travelling by night. Jack was a celebrated fiddler, teacher, and tune-maker, taught by both Pádraig O’Keeffe and Tom Billy Murphy, as well as a certain “Mrs. Cronin” of Rathmore. His sister Nonie played the melodeon.

Apparently, Pádraig O’Keeffe once told him one should practice daily for 15 minutes, and Jack took it to heart; for nearly his whole life he played, whether at a dance or session or on his own at home. In the 30s and 40s he played for dances in the nearby Clamper dancehall. In later years he took on students and had a lasting influence on the local music community. Dan Herlihy was a pupil, and remembers Jack using O’Keeffe’s accordion tablature with which to teach him. O’Connell provided tunes to Breandán Breathnach who treasured his large and rare repertoire. Along with the usual dance tunes, he was known for his large store of waltzes. Interestingly, though he played and taught the Sliabh Luachra music of O’Keeffe and Murphy, his ideal musician was the legendary East Clare fiddler Paddy Canny. Anytime Canny was heard on the radio conversation with Jack would stop until the tune ran out. “The Lighthouse” is remembered as a good-humored, easy-going man and a patient and thoughtful teacher.

Learned from: Pádraig O’Keeffe, Tom Billy Murphy
Taught: Dan Herlihy

Jack with his wife Mary

Dan O’Leary

Dan O’Leary (1914-1987) was the uncle of Johnny O’Leary and likely got Johnny started with the music. Described as “a gentle, courtly, diffident, a soft-voiced man of slender frame and twinkling smile”, he was one of many accomplished but relatively unsung talents of Sliabh Luachra. In his youth it seems he got his music from Tom Billy as well as other more local influences. In 1977 he recorded “Traditional Music from the Kingdom of Kerry” with his Maulykeavane neighbor and longtime musical partner Jimmy Doyle. In the liner notes to that LP he recalls playing in his own home, for his own solitary pleasure, every night of the week. (“It takes away your worries, you know, you forget —-“) He’d hear a tune on the radio and play along with it and in two or three days he’d “have it.”

Learned from: Tom Billy Murphy

Taught: Johnny O’Leary

Played with: Jimmy Doyle


jimmy doyle and dan oleary 300


John Linehan

John Linehan (sometimes spelled Lenihan) (1860-1932) was a fiddle teacher of the generation before Pádraig O’Keeffe and Tom Billy Murphy. He was himself a pupil of Corney Drew, although it’s difficult to find any commonality between what little we know of either of their repertoires. He lived in Glounreigh (also spelled Glenreagh or Glounreagh), Co. Cork and is buried in Kiskeam cemetery. His students included fiddlers Sean B. O’Leary and Johnny O’Leary of Kiskeam as well as Maurice O’Keeffe. He would teach out of his home as well as traveling to students’ homes. Sean B. O’Leary described him as “a dignified, serious music teacher, who took pride in his tuition and musical performance.” Whereas Tom Billy and Pádraig had reputations as easygoing and mellow-tempered teachers, Linehan seems to have taken a disciplinarian approach. If a student played out of tune or diverged from the written music, Linehan would berate him, “Where are your ears, you demon? I’ll skin you!”

Maurice O’Keeffe said that he was the last pupil of John Lenihan, who was about 75 years old when Maurice was ten. He lived within easy walking distance. Maurice was “taught the music with scales, lines and spaces at eight pence a tune”. Lenihan could not play himself at that time because his fingers had gone stiff, but though he was near the end of his days, he seems to have lost none of his strictness. O’Keeffe recalled, “As a music master he was very strict and would not accept any sloppy work or half measures. On one particular occasion when I was supposed to visit him I was so afraid that I decided to ‘mitch’. I hid in the glen and when my mother enquired if I had a new tune I told her that I did not because I had not the previous one learnt ‘by heart’. By some chance my secret leaked and Mr. Linehan informed my mother. His message to her read ‘Tell that “barrow fellow” attend me tomorrow!’ My mother escorted me and I never missed another session.”

Dan Herlihy’s book Sliabh Luachra Music Masters contains 42 of his manuscript tunes which date from around 1910. Looking through these tunes gives an interesting glimpse of the music that was played in Sliabh Luachra at that time. There are some polkas and slides, but also a number of tunes that seem to be direct from the Scottish tradition. It also contains around eight nationalistic song airs, perhaps reflecting their popularity in a revolutionary period, and supporting the contention that such songs were beginning to supplant traditional airs. His polkas are interesting in their stage of folk processing. They are two part dance tunes but lack the characteristic house dance ‘swing’ found in the Din Tarrant settings. However, these were teaching manuscripts for his students and do not necessarily represent the way the man himself would have chosen to play them.

Examples of Linehan’s manuscripts: