I chose the album title Mo Cheantar Féin, my own area, as all of repertoire in this recording is associated with my local area where I grew up in Mount, Scartaglen, Co. Kerry in the heart of Sliabh Luachra. I was one of Nickie McAuliffe’s longest pupils and was lucky enough to grow up in this area, one which is deeply enriched in music, culture, poetry and folklore.
1: Slides Terry Teahan’s Favourite/Mullin Slide/If I had a wife
1: Terry Teahan’s Favourite – Terence or Terry Teahan known as ‘Cuz’ contributed this tune to Comhaltas music magazine, Treoir in 1975. He wrote at the time that it was a great favourite of Pádraig O’Keeffe’s. Cuz was a concertina and accordion player and composer from Glountane, Cordal who emigrated to Chicago in 1928 where he spent the next 60 years playing and passing on Sliabh Luachra music. Cuz’s compositions can be found in the book The Road to Glountane 1980.
2: Mullin Slide – Mullin is the neighbouring townland to Mount, Scartaglen where I grew up. I learned this tune from the fiddle playing of Dan Jeremiah O’Connor from Knockeenahone, Scartaglen who was a pupil of the fiddle master Pádraig O’Keeffe.
3: If I had a wife – I associate this slide with sessions I had in the Arbutus Hotel Killarney with accordion player Jimmy Doyle from Maulykeavane, Gneeveguilla, the area known locally as ‘Jib.’ This tune can be found in Terry Moylan’s Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra; Dance Music from the Cork-Kerry Border.
2: Polkas The Knocknagree Polka/The Lonesome Polka/Paddy Jones’ Polka
1: The Knocknagree Polka – I recorded Johnny O’Leary playing this tune in Dan O’Connell’s Bar in Knocknagree in the 90’s. I recently discovered from his grandson accordion player Bryan O’Leary that this is Johnny’s only composition and that he composed it in the key of A while I play it here in the key of G. This tune can be found in Terry Moylan’s Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra; Dance Music from the Cork-Kerry Border.
2: The Lonesome Polka – also known as Din Tarrant’s can be found in Terry Moylan’s Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra; Dance Music from the Cork-Kerry Border. Denis or ‘Din’ Tarrant was a fiddle player from Knocknaboul near Ballydesmond and was a contemporary of Pádraig O’Keeffe and Tom Billy Murphy.
3. Paddy Jones’ Polka – I associate this polka with the fiddle playing of Paddy Jones. Paddy was born in Kilcusnan, Cordal and was a fiddle student of Pádraig O’Keeffe.
3: Jigs The woman of the big house/Con Thadhgo’s/Johnny Dennehy’s
1: The woman of the big house – Breandán Breathnach recorded Denis Murphy playing this tune at his home in Lisheen, Gneeveguilla. The transcription of this tune from Denis’ playing can be found in Breathnach’s Ceol Rince na hÉireann 2.
2: Con Thadhgo’s – Con Cronin, known locally as Con Thadhgo, was an accordion player from Gneeveguilla. Johnny O’Leary recorded this tune on his solo album An Calmfhear- The Trooper in 1989. This tune can be found in Terry Moylan’s Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra; Dance Music from the Cork-Kerry Border.
3: Johnny Dennehy’s Jig – Maurice O’Keeffe recorded this tune on a homemade cassette tape for me in the 90’s. Maurice learned this tune from fiddle player John Dennehy from Farranfore who learned it from Tom Billy Murphy.
4: Hornpipes Paul’s Hornpipe/The West End
1: Paul’s Hornpipe – I recorded Paddy Cronin playing this tune in his home in Killarney in the 90’s while visiting with my mother Rita. It is a version of the popular Jacky Tar hornpipe. Paddy who grew up in Ré Buí, Gneevegullia and was a childhood friend of my mother’s. She recalled memories of him playing regularly at her birth home in Milleen, Kilcummin as part of the ‘rambling house’ tradition common at the time. When it was time to progress from my beginner Skylark fiddle, Paddy assisted me in choosing my next fiddle at the age of fourteen from William Patterson in Cork City. That was replaced a few years later by my current fiddle which Paddy brought home from America.
2: The West End Hornpipe – I learned this hornpipe from Nickie McAuliffe and he associates this tune with the fiddle playing of Julia Clifford. Later Nickie ironically sourced this tune in William Crawford Honeyman’s The Strathspey Reel and Hornpipe Tutor originally published in 1898. Nickie bought this book in a second-hand bookshop in Manchester in 1996 for five pounds.
5: Slow Air An raibh tú ag an gCarraig
1: An raibh tú ag an gCarraig – This air is found on the 1969 iconic recording The Star Above the Garter. Julia Clifford plays this air on track 15. The written notation of the air can be found in Francis Roche’s Collection of Irish Airs Marches and Dance Tunes Volume 2, 1911.
6: Hornpipe and 2 Reels The Trip to Kilmurry/The Road to Castleisland/The Heights of Muingbháite
1: The Trip to Kilmurry – These tunes are three local compositions. This hornpipe was composed by Castleisland musician PJ Teahan in 2014 after a great evening’s entertainment was had locally in Kilmurry, Cordal.
2: The Road to Castleisland – This reel was composed in 2018 by my music teacher Nickie McAulliffe, about his local town Castleisland.
3: The Heights of Muingbháite – This reel was composed by Castleisland accordion player Tom Fleming in 1969 referring to his native townland. The tune was recorded by Tom in his recording Kerry’s Delight. Tom played in the Desmond and Brosna céilí bands.
7: Slides Mrs. O’Connor’s/Jim Keeffe’s
1: Mrs. O’Connor’s – Mrs. O’Connor was a concertina player from Knockatee, Cordal, the grandmother of Niall O’Connor the accordion player originally from Knockatee, who is the nephew of Kilcummin accordion player John Brosnan.
2: Jim Keeffe’s – Jim Keeffe was a fiddle player from Ballinahulla, Ballydesmond, who was a pupil of Pádraig O’Keeffe. Jim spent most of his working life in Kanturk, Co. Cork and would have acted as a great influence on renowned accordionist Jackie Daly. The second half of this slide is Johnny O’Leary’s version. It may be found in Johnny’s book of music by Terry Moylan, titled Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra; Dance Music from the Cork-Kerry Border.
Máire O’Keeffe, fiddle player and native of Tralee made a personal recording of Ned O’Connor, Dan Jeremiah O’Connor playing these slides in Fleming’s Bar in Scartaglen on 18th May 1995. The music from this recording which also included Maurice O’Keeffe was transcribed by Paul De Grae for the purpose of recreating the recording on 18th May 2019 as part of the World Fiddle Day Scartaglen fiddle session. Máire donated this recording to the Sliabh Luachra Archive.
I would like to thank Brian Mooney for his bouzouki accompaniment, Eoin Stan O’Sullivan for recording and producing the album, Nickie McAuliffe, Bryan O’Leary and my sister Kathryn O’Leary for their help in creating these sleeve notes and my sister Margaret O’Leary in San Francisco for the sweater which she designed that I am wearing on the album cover. I would like to dedicate the album to the memory of my late mother Rita, who along with my brother Michael, supported me on my musical journey all through the years. And finally, to my husband Emmett and our sons Eoghan and Cathal for their fantastic support always.
All tracks arranged by Emma O’Leary
Performed at Culturlann MacAmhlaoibh, Newmarket, Co. Cork
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Eoin Stan O’Sullivan
The Trip to Kilmurry (6) composed by PJ Teahan
The Road to Castleisland (6) composed by Nickie McAuliffe
The Heights of Muingbháite (6) composed by Tom Fleming
Emma O’Leary – Fiddle
Brian Mooney – Bouzouki