At the Crossroads


Early Céilí Bands

Ep. 4

In today's episode, I'm taking a brief look at early recordings of céilí bands and groups of musicians who led to the formation of (or played in a comparable style to) early céilí bands. All of these are taken from 78rpm discs from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. As such, the quality is varied depending on how well they had been preserved and/or restored. I begin with a relatively comprehensive introduction to the socio-political influence of The Gaelic League and the state of dancing within Irish society around the turn of the 20th century. Although a larger story onto itself, I find it an important context to at least partly understand, especially for those who are not familiar with the history of Irish social dancing. There is years upon years of reading on this subject alone but, in order to keep the focus on the music, I've reigned in the speech thereafter. Recordings of many influential céilí bands such as The Tulla and Kilfenora will not feature on today's episode because, while radio recordings existed from this period, I don't have access to them currently. Most recorded output from these bands was from the 1950s onwards. By this point, the initial, developmental stages of the céilí band had well and truly passed as céilí music embarked upon its heyday and, more or less, solidified it's style. Of course, there was styles in varying degrees here too but, in my efforts to avoid overloading you with too much already (and for the sake of my own sanity), I had to call it quits somewhere - even if just for this show!

Timestamps for the music and discussion are below:

00.00 Ballinakill Traditional Players (1931) - Reels: Knocknagow & Fowling Piece

03:04 Brief history of Irish social dancing in the 19th century

10:45 Briefing on the music appearing in this program

12:30 History of the Ballinakill Traditional Players

16:25 Ballinakill Traditional Players (1930) - Jigs: The Carraroe & Lambert's

19:50 Ballinakill Traditional Players (1931) - Reels: The Mills are Grinding & The Milliner's Daughter

24:05 Ballinakill Traditional Players (1930) - Reel: The Old Bush

27:20 Siamsa Gaedheal Céilí Band (1931) - Reels: High Road to Galway, The Groves & The Salamanca Reel

31:30 Siamsa Gaedheal Céilí Band (1931) - Jigs: The King of Jigs, An tAthair Jack Walsh & McDonagh's

35:34 Aughrim Slopes Céilí Band (1930s) - Reels: Killaghbeg House & The First House in Connaught

38:55 Aughrim Slopes Céilí Band (1930s) - Jigs: The Monaghan Jig & Henchey's Delight

43:31 The Belhavel Trio (1930s) - Set Dance: The Job of Journeywork

46:34 The Belhavel Trio (1930s) - Reels: The Ashplant, The Merry Harriers & The Hunter's Purse

49:46 The Belhavel Trio (1930s) - Jigs: Brian O'Lynn & The Rakes of Kildare

55:00 Dublin Metropolitan Garda Céilí Band (1937) - Hornpipes: Last of the Twins, The Harvest Home & The Poppy Leaf

58:07 Dublin Metropolitan Garda Céilí Band (1937) - Jigs: The Irish Washerwoman & The Trip to the Cottage

1:01:38 The Kincora Céilí Band - Reels: The Dublin Reel, Colonel McBain & The Hunter's Purse

1:05:15 The Moate Céilí Band (1940s) - Jigs: Kinnegad Slashers & Lark in the Morning

1:11.27 Frank Lee's Tara Ceilidhe Band (1930s) - Jig: The Bridge of Athlone

1:14.38 Frank Lee's Tara Ceilidhe Band (1930s) - Reels: Drowsy Maggie, The Bush in Bloom & Bonnie Kate

1:19.53 Dan Sullivan's Shamrock Band (1920s?) - Fling: Green Grow the Rushes O!

1:24:07 The Four Provinces Orchestra (1920s?) - Polkas: Leather Away the Wattle O!

1:29.25 The Four Provinces Orchestra (1920s?) - Flings: Untitled / Limerick Fling (For the Highland Fling)

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