John Egan was born in 1903 in Ardleybeg, Ballintogher, Co. Sligo. John had 4 brothers and 3 sisters. His mother was Ann Callaghan from Coolbock, Riverstown, Co. Sligo.
He started playing the flute at home at a young age. John and his brothers were involved in the local Fife and Drum Band in nearby Sooey. Young people and musicians would congregate in neighbour’s houses a few nights each week, where music would be played, songs would be sung , sets, schottisches, barn dances and the occasional waltz, would be danced.
John spent much of his young days in Callaghans, Coolbock. He learned his first tunes from Andy and James Doyle (Father and Son), flute players from Lackagh, Drumfin, Co. Sligo. At that time he also met and played with flute players Brian Luby and John Joe Gardiner, Corhubber Ballymote. This was where John acquired his initial store of music. He also learned to play the fiddle.
He left Sligo in his early 20’s, to work on the railway in Donegal and London. He married Mary Reynolds from Donegal. They had 7 children, 5 girls and 2 boys. He returned to Dublin in 1937 where he worked in Murphy’s pub. He joined The Pipers Club in Dublin and there he met and played with Kathleen Harrington, Pat O’Brien, John Brennan, Bill Davis and John Stenson from Sligo. Also Tom and Joe Liddy, Tim and John Mulligan from Leitrim. He was a member of the Kincora Band. This group produced an LP with rare recordings in the Sligo – Leitrim style of music. On this LP, there is a mix of the Kincora Ceili Band, the Gardiner Trio and the Belhavil Trio. In 1952 John and other musical friends established the St. Mary’s Traditional Music Club, Church St. The Club moved to various venues in Dublin over the years. Up to 100 musicians singers and dancers attended. The sessions continued up until the time of John’s death on the 10th January, 1989.
For the record, this is the John Egan’s that appears on Hammy Hamilton’s "Moneymusk" album. Him and Paul McGrattan play the heck out of the thing. Definitely one of my favorite hornpipes, if not favorite tunes at the moment.
According to the notes of Paul McGrattan’s recordings, John Egan was his neighbour and had regularly played with Pearl McBride, who happened to be Paul O’Shaughnessy’s mother.
This tune on McGrattan’s KEELWEST
I’ve only heard this tune on Paul McGrattan’s album, Keelwest. He preceeds it with Fisher’s hornpipe. He plays Fisher’s hornpipe in a different key, and John Egan’s is definitely not in the same key indicated here. I think it’s the same tune, from a cursory listen. Can anyone confirm? Is the tune actually in G major? It sounds great on his album, but pretty dark for a hornpipe. Can anyone’s ear pick up what key he’s moved it to (a pretty easy job usually for flute/whistle players; just play it on an instrument that is in a different key)?
"Tedsoulos," that’s a different tune in a different key. The hornpipe titled "John Egan’s" on McGrattan’s Keelwest album is actually one of several variants of the Blackbird. I’ve actually posted it on this site: https://thesession.org/tunes/4101
The Dublin band "Bakerswell" recorded the "John Egan’s" "G" hornpipe and followed it with the "Blackbird". It’s a good bet that McGrattan got the 2 titles mixed up.
The Musical Priest
Had the pleasure of welcoming John’s son Fr Egan at our session last night. He was telling us old stories about his father and my curiosity made me look this up.
Re: John Egan’s
I hope someone sees this, as this is an old thread. However, I have a photograph of a monument to John Eagan that is probably somewhere in Roscommon, Sligo or Leitrim, but I don’t remember where I took it, and I desperately need to know where it’s located. It’s built into a stone fence in a layby or perhaps a petrol station parking lot. It’s been two years since I shot the photo. I can’t post a picture here, but I’d be happy to email it to anyone who’d like to see it to see if that might job a memory. I’m a college professor working on figuring on a project related to visual communication and monuments to music in Ireland.
Thank you so much!
If you are a member of The Session, log in to add a comment.
If you aren’t a member of The Session yet, you can sign up now. Membership is free, and it only takes a moment to sign up.