When we think musically of the 1960s, we think of the rock and roll that invaded our entertainment world, but those were also happy days for folk music in the United States, Great Britain and Ireland.
Traditional Irish music was emerging from its undeserved reputation as “swamp music” intended only for the Culchie class outside of Dublin. Ironically, there were forces around Dublin that arose during this time that would forever change this connotation and take formative steps that evolved to make traditional Irish music celebrated and revered around the world in the 21st century.
Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and Na Piobairi Uilleann were two organizations from the small but seminal gathering place of Thomas Street in Dublin that set high standards for the preservation and promotion of music, rallying musicians across the country where it was flowing to a variety of factors.
Pioneer musician and scholar Sean O’Riada, who merged classical music education and regime into the realm of traditional music, has helped this cause cross a critical threshold. He created an ensemble of traditional musicians around Dublin called Ceoltoiri Chualann which inspired another group called the Chieftains led by Paddy Moloney, where fireside music was elevated to an artistic presentation suitable for stages and settings. more formal.
Throughout history, artists have always depended on wealthy patrons to develop their craft, and traditional Irish music was no different since the days of Turlough O’Carolan.
One such man in the Dublin Society was Garech Browne, whose lineage and Guinness family fortune enabled him to play such a role. His personal affinity with O’Riada and Moloney led to the historic founding of Claddagh Records in 1959, one of Ireland’s most successful record companies.
Browne’s sponsorship during the founding of the company would give prominence and notoriety to folk musicians who were happy to see more serious attention being given to Ireland’s indigenous musical heritage passed down from generation to generation.
Moloney, a Dublin native who studied uilleann pipes under the guidance of master pipemaker Leo Rowsome, came under the sway of O’Riada at Ceoltoiri Chualann and trained the Chieftains, bringing with him Michael Tubridy, Martin Fay, Sean Potts and Sean Keane. They then added Peadar Mercier as a percussionist / bodhranist to complete the set.
Browne and Claddagh produced their first CD titled The Chieftains in 1962 and will make five more albums. In 1968, Moloney assumed the role of Executive Producer of Claddagh for seven years, producing 45 albums of music, poetry and spoken word, one of Ireland’s most important cultural resources as it attracted the attention of the the world for his growing artistic endeavors.
In 1975 Moloney left Claddagh to devote himself full time with other founding members (except Michael Tubridy) of the Chieftains as a professional recording and touring ensemble, adding Matt Molloy, Kevin Conneff and Derek Bell, which went really well for them. and for Ireland.
Last month it was announced that Claddagh Records was being “reformed” under a new licensing deal with industry giant Universal Music, a music publishing giant like Sony and Warner with revenues reaching $ 7 billion worldwide.
In a deal like the one with Tara Records mentioned in this space in another column, the entire Claddagh catalog has been remastered and re-released and available worldwide via online sales (claddaghrecords.com), and that includes a few Classic recordings that will be available on the newly popular vinyl record format.
The Browne family have remained involved since Garech Browne’s death in March 2018, making over 60 boxes of original historical and cultural records that have been stored in a Bank of Ireland vault for decades as part of the ‘OK.
The potential for recovery and renewed interest here follows a trend line in traditional Irish music and poetry that all old is new again, with a younger audience joining an older population still appreciating d ‘have a hard drive in your hands to savor sounds that set standards years ago in Irish music.
For example, the aforementioned Rowsome, an Irish flute player, teacher and pipe maker whose King of the Pipers album was the very first Claddagh release recorded at Browne’s Lugalla in Wicklow, will be available again.
If you are a fan of the legendary mastery of the Chieftains of the trad world, the online catalog features the first 10 discs where the titles were listed (Chieftains 2, Chieftains 3, etc.) where you can follow their professional and artistic progress.
Chieftains 10 marks their first foray outside of Ireland for musical inspiration with a visit to Texas, where their now robust âCotton Eye Joeâ was first incorporated into their repertoire.
The always ingenious Moloney discovered a cross-fertilization path for their music that has added extra fuel to their fireside music across the world, including the Great Wall of China.
This triumphant march of the early days of Claddagh will be celebrated in 2022 when the Chieftains and Claddagh mark 60 years trotting as Ireland’s first traditional music ensemble with a special recording.
There is no doubt that the recording industry has undergone tremendous changes in the 62 years of Claddagh Records’ existence, and record store sales are no longer the primary place to keep durable goods between yours. hands.
Claddagh recently closed his shop in Dublin’s Temple Bar district with some dismay, but knowing he intends to trade around the clock online with vintage goods that belong to the solid traditional music library from anyone is certainly something to applaud at any time. See what you can find at Claddagh Records.
* This column first appeared in the June 9 edition of Irish Voice, sister publication of IrishCentral.