Michael Donaghy and Samradh Music

Michael Donaghy and Samradh Music

It’s just over ten years now since Michael Donaghy died, but, perhaps surprisingly, nothing has been added to the posts here https://thesession.org/discussions/4527 after the sad news of his death at the age of just 50 from a brain haemorrhage.
Although his Wikipedia listing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Donaghy is mostly about his poetry (numerous awards and published books, including Penguin Modern Poets 11 in 1997), it quotes from an obituary: “He founded the acclaimed Irish music ensemble Samradh Music and played the tin whistle, and the bodhran and was a flute player of distinction, music echoing in the themes and forms of his writing.”
There are lots of references to ITM in his poetry, such as this, the opening lines of ‘The Classics’:

“I remember it like it was last night.
Chicago, the back room of Flanagan’s
malignant with accordions and cigarettes,
Joe Cooley bent above his Paolo Soprani,
Its asthmatic bellows pumping as if to revive
The half corpse strapped about it.”

Or this, the last lines of ‘The Natural and Social Sciences’:

“Musicians in the kitchen, Sunday morning in Gweedore.
An American with a tape recorder and a yellow notebook.
’What was the name of that last one?’
The piper shrugs and points to the dark corner.
‘Ask my father.’
The American writes ‘Ask My Father.’”

Could anyone provide any more information about Samradh Music, or memoirs of Michael’s playing, in New York, Ireland, London, or wherever?

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Re: Michael Donaghy and Samradh Music

For the record (and assuming that lack of answers to the original question did not necessarily indicate lack of interest), I did recently receive the following information.

Michael Donaghy played traditional music both in America and in England after he moved to England in 1985 - initially tin whistle and bodhran, then he took up flute as well. Samradh Music (meaning ‘summer’) was the band he founded in Chicago - along with Martin Dowling on fiddle, Richard Pettingill on bouzouki and Mary McFadden providing vocals.

There are at least 19 videos on You Tube taken from a TV programme Samradh Music appeared on in 1983 (search for Richard Pettingill’s channel), but they never made a record. Martin Dowling lives in Belfast now, and is Senior Lecturer in musicology and composition at Queen’s University.

In London Michael played for several years in a band called The Slip Jigolos, a London based music group, line-up Mick Searson (button accordion), David Rattray (fiddle), Paddy Gallagher (bouzouki, guitar, vocals) and Michael Donaghy (bodhran, whistles). The group formed in the mid 1980s from the embers of ‘Tarbolton’, which as well as Searson, Gallagher and Rattray featured the excellent talents of Annette Roland (tenor banjo, vocals) and Mick Mulvey (flute).

The band performed 500-plus gigs around London and were resident at the ‘Good Mixer’ Camden Town. Influences include London session scene and occasional Scottish and Cape Breton tunes also bands such as De Dannan and Boys of the Lough. Guest musicians included Paul Bradley, Pete McClements (fiddles) Colm Murphy (bodhran) Richard Creasey (bouzouki) and Sharon Creasey (flute, whistles).

Michael also played often with Karen Ryan and other London players, and in local sessions, and was hired to play at various film premieres, from Lord of the Rings to Titanic.

He met his future wife Maddy Paxman in Chicago at one of his gigs. For about ten years she played the piano in an all-woman ceili band called The Sheelas, which mainly played for ceilis around London.
She published a book in 2014 about Michael’s death and their life together, called "The Great Below" (Garnet Publishing, ISBN: 1859643760).

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