“Fluter’s of old Erin”

“Fluter’s of old Erin”

Does anyone have information on how I would find the album “Fluter’s of old Erin”? My grandfather Owen Frain was a player on the album and I am really interested in finding the recordings. He was a member if the Dan Sullivan Shamrock Band as well so any information would be greatly appreciated!


“Fluters Of Old Erin: Flute, Piccolo And Whistle Recordings Of The 1920’s And 30’s”

Viva Voce 002

8.) Jigs - Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band
16.) Reels - Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band

Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band did other recordings besides the two tracks featured on this Viva Voce cassette. We have a few members on site here who have a store of old 78s. I also am pretty sure I’ve seen some recordings by the group available online. Check ‘Links’ for various sources for 78s. Here are some:

University of California, Santa Barbara
Donald C. Davidson Library
Department of Special Collections
Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project
http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/search.php? ~ the search page

Juneberry 78s:
The Listening Room:
Irish Dance Music:

Internet Archive
Open Source Audio

Library and Archives Canada
The Virtual Gramophone: Canadian Historical Sound Recordings
Discographical information & audio files: RA RealAudio & MP3
Library and Archives Canada
Le Gramophone Virtuel / The Virtual Gramophone:
Canadian Historical Sound Recordings

& there’s Ted McGraw, who will likely have some of ‘Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band’ in his collection, and he’ll burn you a CD for a fair price… Drop him a line…


Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

I’ve dropped Ted a line and given him the link to here… Hopefully he can at least offer you some kind of discography…

“Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band”

One of my favourite sites:

Topic produced one LP: 12T366 “Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band” (1930s)

Dan Sullivan’s Hornpipe
Tickling Mary Jane
Rabbit Catcher
Londonderry Hornpipe
Miller’s Reel
Duffy the Dancer
Bantry Bay
Billy Hanafin’s Reel
Green Grow the Rushes-O
Versouviana Dance
Boil the Kettle Early
Groves Hornpipe
Johnny Will You Marry Me
Blackberry Blossom
Bonnie Kate
I’m Leaving Tipperary
Silver Slipper
Jerry Daly’s Hornpipe

Other compilations where you’ll find a track or two:

CD: “From Galway to Dublin: Early Recordings of Irish Traditional Music”
Track 1: “From Galway to Dublin”

CD: “Music and Dances From Old Ireland”
Track 3: “From Galway to Dublin”

The Globestyle Irish Traditional Music Series

CD: “Treasure of my Heart”
Globestyle CDORBD 082 (chosen from the Topic archives)
Track 2: “Johnny Will You Marry Me”

CD: “I’m Leaving Tipperary: Classic Irish Traditional Music Recorded in America in the 20s & 30s”
Globestyle CDORBD 082 (chosen from the Topic archives)
Track 2: “I’m Leaving Tipperary”
Track 14: “Green Grow the Rushes O”

CDs: “Farewell to Ireland” (4 CDs)
Proper Records R2CD 40-107

CD 1
track 18: “Johnny Will You Marry Me”
track 19: “Ricket’s Hornpipe” / “The Stack Of Barley”
track 20: “Nano’s Favourite Reels”
CD 4
track 1: “From Galway to Dublin”


Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band: Pianist and bandleader Dan Sullivan was born in Boston, the son of a fiddler also named Dan Sulivan. Sullivan senior was described in O’Neill’s book Irish Minstrels And Musicians as “the great Irish fiddler, known to everybody in Boston and the adjoining towns”. In 1926 Sullivan Jr. founded Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band with Tipperary fiddler Thomas Ryan and three Kerry musicians Michael Hanafin (fiddle), Dan Murphy (pipes) and Daniel Moroney (pipes and flute). A resourceful character, he managed to have the band recorded within months of its formation. The line-up changed quite a lot during their recording years 1926-34 with only Sullivan and Hanafin present on all records - it is a credit to their strong musicianship that the sound of the band remained constant regardless of personnel changes. Other featured musicians during this period were Murty Rabbett, Neil Nolan, Larry Griffen (Tr.4, CD2) and accordion player Thomas Senior (Tr.18, CD1). Sullivan’s band recorded over a hundred sides of mostly superb music particularly distinguished by Sullivan’s driving and inventive piano which was a breath of fresh air in a genre often marred by inept an/or indifferent, and frequently inappropriate accompaniment.

“See You at the Hall: Boston’s Golden Era of Irish Music and Dance”

Susan Gedutis
Northeastern University Press, Boston, 2004
ISBN: 1-55553-610-7
252 pages

Owen Frain & Gene Frain get mention, as does ‘Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band’…

There’s also a picture of Owen and Gene Frain playing flutes together, page 140… “~ Owen also played the pipes, though Gene says he remembers having seen his father play only the flute and the chanter ~’ ~
Picture from the library of Frank Storer

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

Colfrain - PLEASE learn how to use apostrophes!

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

Yeah, “fluter’s” is wrong. But what about, “1920’s And 30’s”?

Is it a simple plaural: 1920s and 30s?

or is it possesive?: 1920’s. As in, belonging to the decade named the 20s.

or is it a possesive plaural?: 1920s’. As in, belonging to the 10 years named the 20s.

Posted .

Apologies for the mistake

Very sorry for the mistake—“Fluters of old Erin”

Rushing through typing is not advised 🙂

It is “plural” not “plaural”.

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Very much appreciate all the feedback and great links ceolachan!

Thanks for not picking me up on my grammatical error too 🙂

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I think the “Fluters” cassette tape was compiled by Harry Bradshaw in Dublin from recordings in the Irish Traditional Music Archive, and possibly other sources as well. Harry gave a lecture at Hammy Hamilton’s Flute Gathering in Ballyvourney just over 2 years ago, where he sold the last copies of the cassette. I seem to remember that he told us there wouldn’t be any more copies printed, so your best bet is probably to keep an eye out on eBay. He would be the man to contact, I would think. Some one here might have an address, or you could always go through the Irish Traditional Music Archive [ if that’s it’s correct title ]. Good luck with your search - sorry I don’t have the tape myself.

Posted by .

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

I had already spoken with Harry about re-releasing the cassette, or as a CD. He wasn’t interested, unless he can get access to all the source recordings again, to capture and process with newer technology. Since a lot were loaned out of private collections, I don’t think that will be a likely happening.

However, Colleen, your family connection might just be enough to get him to cough up some form of the tracks you’re seeking.

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

It’s OK Colleen, Joe C’S’S specialises in apostrophe’s!!

Posted .

“See You at the Hall: Boston’s Golden Era of Irish Music and Dance”

Susan Gedutis
Northeastern University Press, Boston, 2004
ISBN: 1-55553-610-7

Here’s an extract we can all appreciate, pages 133 -134:

Most Irish-Americans in Boston in the 1940s and 1950s learned Irish music the traditional way: from their parents, a relative, or a friend. In Boston, Gene Frain’s parents hosted musicians on a weekly basis. “They used to wind up at my house every other Sunday, a bunch of musicians,” Frain recalls. His father, Owen Frain, had been a flute player in Dan Sullivan’s band. Born in Roosky, county Mayo, around 1898, he was surrounded by music as a child, and took up the flute at an early age. According to Gene:

“My father told me when he was young, every house in his neighborhood had a flute and violin hanging on the wall. He said everyone could play the violin. I said, “What the hell did you bother with the flute in the first place for?” As far as I’m concerned, the violin is miles ahead of the flute. He said, “I played the flute because everyone could play the violin, and I got sick of listening to violins.” 😉

Owen Frain, a Flute of Old Erin

page 140, further on the photo notes

~ Owen played in the Dan Sullivan ban in the 1920s, replacing Thomas Ryan and Danny Murphy on flute. ~

pages 177 - 178

~ Owen Frain, a flute player who came to America in the 1920s, had run away from home in Ireland when he was just fourteen hears old to work in the coal mines of England. Eventually, Frain joined the English navy and eventually immigrated to the United States, bringing his music with him. ~

There’s more in the book on his son, Gene Frain… Owen won’t have been featured in the first recordings that Dan Sullivan had recorded, which were done pretty soon after forming the band, but I understand that Dan & the band cut quite a few tracks.

Best of luck in your search…

Do you follow in the tradition ~ Owen played simple system wood flutes, Gene Boehm system metal flutes, both Irish music. Are you also a flute player? ~ playing Irish music?

Sorry about any missing letters or transpositions ~ I’m still trying to catch up on lost sleep. I’ve given up on trying to reclaim any lost beauty… 😎

Erin’s Old Fluters

Bless them…

“Fluters Of Old Erin: Flute, Piccolo And Whistle Recordings Of The 1920’s And 30’s”

& Harry Bradshaw’s note:

Side 1, track 8.) Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band
Irish Dance Set, Figure 1, Jigs
“My Darling Asleep” / “Yesterday Morning”
Victor V 29046, Bve 53671-1, New York, May 1929

This was one of the most famous bands from the early recording era and was led by piano player Dan Sullivan whose father, a flute and fiddle player, had emigrated from Millstreet, Co. Cork. Over the years the band consisted of a constantly changing cast of musicians on fiddles, uilleann pipes, banjo, accordion, drums, flute, piccolo, and whistle. A hallmark of the band’s lively and exuberant performances was the heroic attempts by flute, piccolo, and whistle players to carry the melody line through a veritable wall of sound.

Between 1926 and 1934, the band recorded a staggering 106 sides on which flutes, piccolos, and whistles were played by Owen Frain from Rooskey, Co. Sligo; Dan Moroney of Caherciveen in Kerry; and Murty Rabbett from Oranmore, near Galway city.

Side 2, track 8 / 16.) Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band
Reels: “The Blackberry Blossom” / “Bonnie Kate”
Victor V 29003, Bve 47753-1, New York, October 1928

The cassette closes with another exciting example of hell-for-leather music played with abandon by Dan Sullivan’s Band. The piccolo and whistle give their usual cutting edge to the band’s sound.

Discographical information: Nicholas Carolan, Richard K. Spottiswood, Philippe Varlet.

A “Part Two of Fluters of Old Erin” was promised, but, as far as I know, never happened? 😏 It could be that was the John McKenna recording Harry also did the work on…

I’ll dig out any other notes I might have that could help…

CDs: “Farewell to Ireland” (4 CDs); Globestyle CDs; “From Galway to Dublin”

Sorry, Owen Frain isn’t given a mention in the notes for these tracks, only Daniel Moroney, flute and pipes for “Farewell to Ireland” & Murty Rabbett, vocals, piccolo & whistle, in the Globestyle notes…

Owen Frain gest a mention in the notes for “From Galway to Dublin: Early Recordings of Irish Music”, but ~ not as one of the musicians on the one track:

1.) Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band: “From Galway to Dublin”
Larry Griffin-vocal, George Tapely-accordion, Neil Nolan-banjo, Dan Sullivan-piano.

In the further notes:
~ While working as a salesman for Steinway, Boston pianist Dan Sullivan recorded over 100 sides during the 1920s and early 1930s with prominent Boston Irish musicians like Kerry fiddler Michael Hanafin (1880-1970) and Sligo flute player Owen Frain. ~

Topic LP: 12T366 “Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band” (1930s)

This would be your best bet. Someone out there has to have this recording, though it hasn’t been added to the recordings here yet. I suspect I might, but I don’t have access to it, sorry. I too would love it digitized to enjoy again. I know I mentioned Ted McGraw earlier, but there are other folks on site here who have extensive collections of old Irish 78s. Hopefully they’ll come out of the woodwork… Hmmm, just remembered one. I’ll drop him a line. 😉

Old Erin’s Fluters

Done! Fingers crossed…X

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

Thanks Johannes J, I was hoping someone would make it through. So, I take it you have the recording and the notes for it? I’ve just made a couple of the links… 😉

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

Thank you all for the information! I was hoping to get a recording of my grandfather for my dad as a Christmas gift. My uncle Gene Frain passed away last week so it got me thinking of the music, which was a huge passion of Gene’s.

Unfortunately, I do not have the musical chops that Gene or my grandfather had ;) I love to listen though 🙂

Thank you again!

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

Dear colfrain,

I am very sorry to hear that Gene Frain has passed away. I was proud to call him a friend, though we have been in touch only by phone (and occasional visits) since I moved to Miami.

Gene was one of the inspiring musicians of his generation from the Boston area. I loved to hang out with him, play a few tunes with him backing on the piano or playing the whistle. He had great stories about the old pipers, etc. He would often play me old recordings of Peter Conlon (who he once looked up during a visit to NY with Billy Caples), Coleman, his friend Paddy Cronin, etc.

When I organized sessions near him (in my shop or in Yeats County in Watertown) we would always invite him and were delighted when he could join us…. and with many other sessions at Helen’s house or the Green Briar he added great spirit to the fun.

I hope you (or someone in the family) is taking great care of his priceless collection of 78s, his old tube-powered Wurlie electric piano, etc…. among the rarest of those 78s will be Gene’s own recordings on piano with Billy Caples on D/C# accordion, and there may be others of his playing as well. He had a great touch with unusual jazz chord voicings. When I kidded him about tempos he always said he used to get the same complaints from Caples!

Gene had such health issues most of his life that he bore with great grace and humor. I’m sure he is in a better place but a lot of us will miss him.

Re: the “Fluters” tape, email me and I will arrange to send you my copy. I can dub it for myself.

I will see if I can find my reissue LP of the Dan Sullivan band for you too.

groff (at) miami (dot) edu

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

I have some Shamrock band 78’s in my collection. But I can’t remember the names. Great music. I’ll dig ’em out.

Good stuff ceolachan…

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

Colleen, your in excellent hands now and I’ve been assured others will be contacting you too. I hope you manage to pull it together in time for your da, there should be enough time, but I know that whenever it happens he’ll be pleased… The book quoted above would also be enjoyed by you and your family, if you haven’t already got it. There’s even more with respect to Gene Frain. NIce addition Paul, heart and sentiment…

Good to see you Hugo, even if only in print…

Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann / Irish Traditional Music Archive

& a link to point, well done Hugo…

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

“there’s three of us”

“There’s a few categories the possible names seem to come in”

“I doubt there’s many people in the world who are fluent in both Hebrew and Irish”

All of the above posted by Joe CSS on May this year.

No offence, Joe, but, as far as apostrophes go … pot? Kettle?

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”


Pedants arise!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Joe’s use of the apostrophe in any of the examples that you have supplied, as long as one realises that he has no sense of the appropriate conjugation in each and every case.

‘All of the above posted by Joe CSS on May this year.’

Tsk, tsk, see me after school!

Posted by .

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

Yes, I was aware of the fact that what Joe was actually doing was misunderstanding the number involved in each case, by using the verb form associated with the singular followed by, in each case, a plural noun.

However, in each case, there is, nevertheless, an inappropriate use of an apostrophe, since without the incorrect use of the singular verb there would be no word ending in “s” to contract by use of the apostrophe.

But I didn’t want to be *that* pedantic!


Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

…oh, and it should have been “in May”.


Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

Thanks for having my back Ben 🙂 You guys are too funny~

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

And again, thanks to ALL for your information and assistance! I truly (did I spell that correctly ;) appreciate it!

Thank you Paul for your kind words regarding uncle Gene. He really was a kind man and I remember when he went to Ireland with my dad, his brother Paul, he bought me a tin whistle! Loved that little instrument 🙂

He did have many health problems and I know he is in a much better place with many of his old friends, playing the music he loved~

Re: “Fluter’s of old Erin”

Ooooohhhh, I just read this! I know, like 10 months late, but hey…
Ben, you got me there! I guess I’ve become used to using “there’s” as a shortened form not only of “there is”, but also of “there are”, which is, I know, technically incorrect.
Maybe we should start a movement urging people to use “ther’re” or something instead!