Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

Any ideas? I don’t need any more tune books - too many already. I have Barry Foy’s excellent Field Guide. I just got Martin Hayes’ Shared Notes. Thinking Maybe Last Night’s Fun but it seems to be out of print.
I lose the will to live reading musicology books - I don’t know enough to follow it. Memoirs, biogs, ruminations, histories all welcome.
Any suggestions will be gratefully received. Trying to identify my own Christmas present!

Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

If you can find Last Night’s Fun it is worth the effort!

Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

Last Night’s Fun is definitely worth picking up if you can find a copy. It’s on Amazon in the US…I’m not sure you can buy from Amazon US in England, but if you have a friend in the US you could have them pick it up and send it to you.

https://www.amazon.com/Last-Nights-Fun-About-Traditional/dp/0865475318

Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

Yes, you can usually get delivered anywhere in the world from Amazon US, though I’d advise not being in a hurry. Sometimes very quick, sometimes it goes on the tramp steamer via Ascension Island, I think.

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Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

Sadly, Ciaran Carson died last year, so obviously cannot be contacted directly. However his brother Breandan is a formerly-active member of The Session, just wondering if he could help sourcing copies of Last Night’s Fun.
https://thesession.org/members/3186

Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but something I recently purchased was The Road from Castlebarnagh: Growing Up in Irish Music, A Memoir by Paddy O’Brien:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B076JF3F8N/

Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

I would highly recommend ‘Music in a Breeze of Wind’ by Barry Taylor.
There are a couple of discussions on the book dating back three or four years ago. I bought my copy direct from Barry for just £5. It’s a great read.

https://thesession.org/discussions/42945

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Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

I see ITMA are advertising ‘Music in a Breeze of Wind’ at the moment.
https://www.itma.ie/shop

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Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

I don’t know if it’s still available anywhere, but it might be worth seeking out ‘Traditional Music in Ireland’ by Tomás Ó Canainn - formerly piper with Na Filí. (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978: ISBN 0 7100 0021 9).

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Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

Thanks I hadn’t heard of last nights fun but sounds brilliant. Managed to find a second hand seller on Amazon U.K. (some other copies still there) for £18 delivered.

BTW, if looking for an Xmas present, why not get a ticket to a trad gig or festival for next year?

Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

"Flowing Tides: History and Memory in an Irish Soundscape" by Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin. This book focuses on the musical traditions of County Clare and features performers like Sharon Shannon, Maura O’Connell, Geraldine Cotter, Martin Hayes, John Lynch of the Kilfenora Céilí Band, etc. Comprehensive and scholarly, yet very readable. He wrote "A Pocket History of Irish Traditional Music", also worth giving.

Definitely "Last Night’s Fun" and "The Road from Castlebarnagh"!

Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

I heartily endorse all of the above. I’ve purchased and given away at least a dozen copies of Last Night’s Fun. Herein follows a pretty long list, many of which have been posted about on thesession previously. I’ve chosen books that avoid dry, technical language. The links vary as to which side of the Atlantic the purveyors are:

First some books about pipers/piping
- Out of Darkness: the blind piper of Inagh by Howard Marshall - this is a heavy, large coffee-table style book chronicling the life of Clare piper Garrett Barry and is the most beautifully written and printed book on Irish trad music I’ve yet to see. https://pipers.ie/store/products/out-of-darkness-the-blind-piper-of-inagh/

- Free Spirits - Irish Travellers and Irish Traditional Music by Tommy Fegan and Oliver O’ Connell - another large format book, also very well-executed. https://custysmusic.com/products/free-spirits-irish-travellers-and-irish-traditional-music-by-tommy-fegan-and-oliver-o-connell

- The Wheels of the World: 300 Years of Irish Uilleann Pipers by Colin Harper with John McSherry - not the best organized book, but still well worth reading. https://johnmcsherry.bandcamp.com/merch/the-wheels-of-the-world-300-years-of-irish-uilleann-pipers-by-colin-harper-with-john-mcsherry

Books about singers
- Parley-Poet and Chanter by Pecker Dunne - The Pecker’s autobiography, you can imagine himself sitting there by the fire telling you these stories. https://www.abebooks.com/9781899047130/Parley-Poet-Chanter-Dunne-Pecker-1899047131/plp

- The Stone Fiddle: My Way To Traditional Song by Paddy Tunney - well written autobiography of song, which again makes you imagine sitting across the table or next to the fire with the author.

Books on fiddlers
- Ben Lennon - The Tailor’s Twist: Ben Lennon’s Life in Traditional Irish Music - another extremely well written, photographed, designed and printed book. https://mcneelamusic.com/accessories/ben-lennon-the-tailors-twist-ben-lennons-life-in-traditional-irish-music/

- The Northern Fiddler: Music and Musicians of Donegal and Tyrone, by Allen Feldman (Author), Eamonn O’Doherty (Author) - This set the bar years ago for books on Irish music. Yes, it contains lots of tunes, but the photography, artwork, writing and the interviews are all top-shelf. It’s available used on Amazon for only $1187.33! Wouldn’t this inspire the publisher to reprint it? But there is this nice online version https://www.itma.ie/digital-library/text/northern-fiddler and this new documentary piece on TG4 https://www.tg4.ie/en/player/categories/irish-music-series/?series=An%20Fhidil%20Bheo%20-%20Ceol%20an%20Northern%20Fiddler&genre=Ceol


On dance
- The Story of Irish Dance by Helen Brennan - from Terry Moylan’s review, "This is a book for anyone with an interest in things Irish, for dancing was for so long such a central part of Irish life. For a reader unfamiliar with dance it will provide what will probably be a startling introduction to the sheer extent and complexity of the subject." https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/story-irish-dance-first/author/helen-brennan/

Irish music in general
- Irish Traditional Music: A Pocket History by Ciaran Carson - my favorite quick intro to Irish trad music. https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/320005.Irish_Traditional_Music

- The Heartbeat of Irish Music - by Peter Woods & Christy McNamara - Through evocative photography and meaningful text, tells the story of Irish music and its place in the hearts of Irish people, from the 1920s to the 1990s, with references to the Famine, emigration, and early traditions and superstitions https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Heartbeat_of_Irish_Music.html?id=NjFtAAAACAAJ

- Companion to Irish Traditional Music, edited by Fintan Vallely - If like me, you enjoy reading the dictionary or encyclopedia (and in no particular order), then this will give you hours of enjoyment. Out of print and pricey, but well worth it. https://www.abebooks.com/Companion-Irish-Traditional-Music-Vallely-Fintan/30914296401/bd

Books by and about O’Neill
- Irish minstrels and musicians : with numerous dissertations on related subjects, by Francis O’Neill - text by O’Neill on the many musicians he collected tunes from, and others, with old photographs and lithographs. https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/irish-minstrels-and-musicians/author/o%27neill/

- A Harvest Saved: Francis O’Neill and Irish Music in Chicago, by Nicholas O’Carolan - so well written, contains lots of information, but easy to read and eminently enjoyable, as to be expected by the inimitable Nicholas O’Carolan, also with excellent illustrations. https://www.halleonard.com/product/14014512/a-harvest-saved-francis-oneill-and-irish-music-in-chicago

- without a doubt, the book to watch out for next year is The Beat Cop: Chicago’s Chief O’Neill and the Creation of Irish Music by Michael O’Malley, Univ. of Chicago Press, April 2022. You can pre-order at https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/B/bo143122232.html The author gave a humorous and captivating talk on his research a couple weeks ago at the Trad2021 conference, Access and Participation in Traditional Music in the Anglo-Irish World, hosted by Helen Lawlor and Simon McKerren.

I hope this gives Santa a few ideas.

Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

And for those who also enjoy Scottish music and tales therof:

- Calum’s Road, by Hutchinson, Roger - a sweet, well-written read on Calum MacLeod and his epic road-building. https://www.abebooks.com/9781841586779/Calums-Road-Hutchinson-Roger-1841586773/plp

- Macpherson’s Rant and Other Tales of the Scottish Fiddle, by Stuart McHardy. https://www.abebooks.com/9781841582900/Macphersons-Rant-Tales-Scottish-Fiddle-1841582905/plp

Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

And good news, the Frank Harte book is in print and available through ITMA, and there are CDs and LPs of his floating around, and there are some tracks on Spotify. The book is a great representation of a great exponent of Irish song.

A Hidden Ulster: People, Songs and Traditions of Oriel by Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin is also wonderful with songs in English and Irish and ample descriptive text in English with photos. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find (>$2600 on Amazon? If you find it in a used shop, nab it quick).

Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

It’s a bit niche, and a niche with which I have absolutely no connection, but I enjoyed
"See You at the Hall: Boston’s Golden Era of Irish Music and Dance"
by Susan Gedutis

Blurb "In this engaging look back at Boston’s golden era of Irish traditional music, Susan J. Gedutis deftly weaves together engaging narrative with spirited personal reminiscences to trace the colorful dance hall period from its beginnings in 1940s Roxbury, when masses of young Irish flooded Boston following World War II, through its peak years in the 1950s, to its decline in the 1960s, when reduced immigration, urban social upheaval, and a shift in neighborhood demographics brought an end to the heyday of Irish dance hall music in Boston. "

Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

Thanks everyone!!!! This will enrich my soul and make my pocket poor!!! I have a lot of pleasurable perusing coming up!!!!

Re: Any suggestions for books on Irish music? Christmas is coming

‘Turlough’ by Brian Keenan - written by him while being held hostage by Islamic militiamen in Beirut, its the partly factual, partly imagined life of Turlough O ‘Carolan - I enjoyed it, but depends on how you feel about the man and his music! Oh and another vote for Ciaran Carson’s ‘Last Night’s Fun’.