Other Bios

Dan Herlihy – Festival Award Winner 2012

Accordion player, Dan Herlihy from Ballydesmond was presented with the Dedication to the Music of Sliabh Luachra Award at the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival in Castleisland in 2012.

He was also presented with an award with very similar wording but exactly the same sentiments at the 2017 Maurice O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival in Kiskeam and Ballydesmond.

The Work Of Collectors

Traditional music archivists have always placed great store on the work of collectors down through the years.

The Sliabh Luachra region was blessed that so many of the ‘greats’ in the business visited so often and with so much purpose.

Without them the place would have a much poorer, cultural outlook today and so much of what the area is known and loved for would have been lost.

Music of the Area

The likes of : Alan Lomax, Séamus Ennis, Seán Mac Reamonn, Andreas Ó Geallachóir, Breandán Breathnach, Terry Moylan, Diane Hamilton, Ciarán Mac Mathúna and Peter Browne and Radio Éireann and the BBC and many more – have all left their mark on the growth and popularity of the music of the area.

Most of them had a little team of sound-men and technicians and drivers with them and they are among the unsung heroes in the band behind what’s out there today.

Spreading the Word

Musicians came calling too and didn’t go away empty handed. They too helped enormously in spreading the word on the mine of music that is Sliabh Luachra.

But there were also locals who worked away diligently within their own few fields, townlands and parishes.

They played their tunes and prompted others to play theirs and they swopped them and named them for posterity.

The naming of the tunes was often creative in the extreme but the stories that came with them stayed with them – like names and dates on the back of an old photograph – pure gold.

Huge Amount of Effort

Dan Herlihy was one of the collectors who put in a huge amount of effort in his own place and the few miles at either side of it.

He released at least two recordings of his own in CD form and there may have been a cassette tape release earlier than these.

He also published two books of tunes, Sliabh Luachra Music Masters Vol. 1 in 2003 and Vol. 2 some four years later in 2007.

Neither Popular nor Profitable

These were peppered with photographs of the people who kept the music alive when it was neither popular or profitable.

The first book alone contained almost 200 tunes and was packed with biographies of all the greats of the area down through the years.

He guested on several other recordings and supplied information on tune titles for many more.

Dan released his ‘The Night of the Fair’ a 16 track CD of Traditional Irish Music from Sliabh Luachra in 1996.

Didn’t Go Far for Titles

The line up was: Dan himself on accordion with Christy Cronin, vocals; Denis O’Connor, banjo; Con Moynihan, fiddle; John Drew, mandocello; Tim Browne, bouzouki; Cormac O’Mahony, guitar; Dan O’Connor, fiddle; Paddy Brosnan and Joe O’Connell both on bodhrán.

In his 2000 released CD The Ballydesmond Polka you don’t have to go far beyond the title of the recording to pick up on the man’s dedication to the music of his own place.

Pay the Girl her Fourpence

If proof is needed a scan down along the 14 track titles and you’ll find the likes of: Farewell To Ballinahulla; The Groves Of Gneeveguilla; The Blackwater Banks; The Knocknaboul No. 1
and No. 2 and the most intriguing: Pay the Girl her Fourpence.

On this recording Dan was joined by John Drew on mandocello.

On the basis of the above alone, most would agree that Dan Herlihy was a most worthy recipient of the award for his dedication to the music of his locality.

© 2019 John Reidy www.mainevalleypost.com


Jimmy O’Brien is 2014 ‘Dedication’ Award Winner

Killarney publican  and singer, Jimmy O’Brien stood behind the counter of his celebrated bar for a couple of years with a half century.

The bar closed in the summer of 2013 and just two years after the institution had celebrated its 50th year in business.

After a few years spent in America in the 1950’s, Jimmy returned to Ireland with his new wife, Mary Cronin.

The Summer of 1961

Together, they opened their bar on Killarney’s  College Street in the summer of 1961.

Distinctively and patriotically painted in his native county’s green and gold, the pub soon became a haunt for musicians of the Sliabh Luachra persuasion and for GAA people from all over the county and beyond.

A sought after and highly accomplished sean nós singer, Jimmy  is a regular guest at festivals and gatherings throughout the country.

Many Television Appearances

He has made many television appearances and radio broadcasts. He is widely regarded as being among the finest exponents of this distinctive style of singing.

The bar was the firmly established ‘Sliabh Luachra House’ in Killarney and Johnny O’Leary and Jimmy were great friends.

After Party in Jimmy O’Brien’s

The huge Castleisland contingent which travelled to Killarney on that April day in 2007 for the unveiling of the late Mike Kenny’s sculpture of Johnny O’Leary will remember the after party in Jimmy O’Brien’s for a while.

As a host and magnate for sessions of music and song there was none better than Jimmy O’Brien.

Beauty and Purity

As a guardian of the beauty and purity of the Sliabh Luachra tradition, Jimmy O’Brien was always there.

It was fitting then that he was presented with the Dedication to the Music of Sliabh Luachra Award at a concert to commemorate his old friend, Johnny O’Leary.

And it happened at a festival which honours Patrick O’Keeffe – the Last of the Great Fiddle Masters.

© 2019 John Reidy www.mainevalleypost.com