We learned the first song on this album, STEP IT OUT MARY, because of a certain button-accordion player in St. Paul, Minnesota named Martin McHugh from Castlerea, County Roscommon. We often heard Martin singing the title of this song, but we didn't know the rest of it until after St. Paul Irishman, Dominic Caulfield, gave us the words. The first tune on this album, a jig, THE THREE LITTLE DRUMMERS, was also inspired by Mr. McHugh and his Ceili band, The Plough and Stars.
MARTIN SHEARY'S BALL came to us from another St. Paul source, Patrick J. Hill, who brought this song with him when he emigrated from Ireland in 1923. Pat says the song was written some years before by Tim O'Brien ( Brien's Tim) from the vicinity of Keeper Hill, County Tipperary.
The next two tunes, KITTY'S WEDDING and THE ECHO are two hornpipes we've come to call "Flannagan Tunes" since we learned these and most of the traditional tunes we play from Pat Flannagan.
COME ALL YE BRAVE AND TRUE IRISHMEN is one of many fine songs written about Kevin Barry. Nick Coleman, a singing reporter from the Minneapolis Tribune, was the first we ever heard sing it. THE CONNEMARA ROSE is a wedding song. In fact, it was first sung for us at a wedding reception in Scotland by the bride's brother, Mike O'Leary. Mike later gave us the words on the airplane upon our return to America. Charlie sings the song on this record and by a twist of fate, both he and Mike are getting married on the same day.
Terence P. Teahan ( Cuz) wrote the first of the reels that we played to end this side and he named it BARBARA DAHILL'S FLUTE. Then, Pat Flannagan joined us in the studio, playing his upside down button-accordion, for two rollicking reels, SPORTING PAT and SCOTCH MARY.
We start up again with three Kerry Slides, all of which we got from Cuz. Cuz is from Glountain, County Kerry, but can now be found at most musical gatherings around Chicago playing the concertina and accordion, as well as dancing up a storm. All at the fine age of seventy-one. His first teacher was Patrick O'Keefe, the legendary Kerry fiddler and source of these three tunes. The first two slides are simply known as O'KEEFE'S and the third is one he was asked to play nearly every day for a Mrs. McQuinn and came to be called MOM'S FAVORITE.
Many people said to us, "Please put THE TOWN I LOVED SO WELL on your record." Well, here it is, an excellent song, recently written by a singer and songwriter from Derry named Phil Coulter .
THE NIGHTINGALE is another song that all who heard it and heard that we were making a second album, said, "I hope that one's on it."
Pat Flannagan is featured again in this second selection of reels; JIM KENNEDY'S REEL and SANDY McINTYRE'S TRIP TO BOSTON. Pal knows hundreds of tunes but he possesses an in quenchable thirst for new ones. SANDY McINTYRE'S is such a one. Pat learned it over the phone from fiddler in Colorado Springs, Dan Courmier. Dan evidently learned it in a similar fashion from Sandy McIntyre, wherever he may be.
Tom first heard SEAN O'DWYER OF THE GLEN at Pat Hill's house in St. Paul. Pat is originally from the County Tipperary and has been singing, fiddling, and writing songs for most of his seventy-six years. Tom now plays the fiddle that Pat played, and sings many songs that Pat wrote and collected. SEAN O'DWYER is an old song translated from the Gaelic, that Pat has been singing all his life. We bid adieu with an old-time favorite, THE HOMES OF DONEGAL, with which we've ended many a pleasant night all across America.
Pat ( Packie) Flannagan, age 62, brought over the traditional Irish music from Tourmakeady, County Mayo, to Chicago and then to Denver, where we met him and where he now lives. Pat's wife, Mary, is also from Mayo. She dances, plays the mandolin, and keeps all of their children active in music and dancing. Mary, 16, is a great step dancer; Johnny, 14, is a fine young fiddler; and Jimmy, 12, is a promising accordion player. Our thanks to Pat for playing on this record with us and our congratulations to him for keeping Irish music alive wherever he goes.