Friday 27 March 2015

Clare County Library launches Singers and Songs of Clare from the Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Clare County Library has launched its online Singers and Songs of County Clare from the Carroll Mackenzie Collection project, featuring over 400 songs from over 40 Clare singers, collected by Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie in London and west Clare over a period of 40 years, with transcriptions of song lyrics accompanying each recording, and various playlists for easy listening. The project is also enhanced by the addition of articles on singers and the song tradition in County Clare.

Speaking about the importance of this new service, Helen Walsh, Clare County Librarian, says that “the public library service in County Clare offers a wide range of music for lending throughout the county, and has offered a very strong traditional music collection in its branch library in Miltown Malbay for many years. This new addition to the website demonstrates the library service’s continuing commitment to preserving and promoting the rich musical traditions of County Clare.”

In September 2012, Clare County Library launched the first part of its online "Music of Clare" section on the library website, featuring a selection of traditional Irish tunes commonly associated with County Clare, where people could listen to traditional tunes associated with County Clare, played by musicians who are from the county or who have lived in it for many years. Also included were transcriptions of the featured tunes, to help people learn the basic notes of the featured tunes.

“Shortly after launching the traditional Irish music project, we received a phone call from Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie offering us a collection of recordings they had made of Irish singers from the early 1970s to the present day”, said Anthony Edwards, Senior Executive Librarian and manager of the project. “Of course we had no idea of the huge extent of their collection, begun in the singers’ clubs of London and continued in the cottages of west Clare. From the enormous collection of files covering songs, music, stories and folklore we selected just over 400 songs sung by Clare singers, and did transcriptions of the song lyrics to accompany each recording, and developed various playlists for easy listening also.”

Launching the project in Ennistymon Courthouse Gallery, Cllr. Pat Hayes, Chair of Clare County Council’s Cultural, Arts, Community, Recreation and Amenity Services Strategic Policy Committee, thanked Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie on behalf of the people of Clare for their generosity in making their life’s work available to the library, and the library staff for making such wonderful use of the material. “The Singers and Songs of County Clare project re-enforces Clare County Council’s strong commitment to the arts and culture of Clare“, he added.

Featured singers include Martin Reidy (1901-1985) from Tullaghaboy, “a solitary bachelor eking out a living on his mountain farm after his parents had departed this world and the other members of the family had scattered to the four winds”; Michael ‘Straighty’ Flanagan (1893-1987) from Inagh, who was photographed by American photographer Dorothea Lange in the 1950s; and Tom Lenihan (1905-1990) from Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay, whose memory was such that “on a number of occasions, after a little probing, he faultlessly remembered and sang a song which he said he had not sung for some 40 years or more and had forgotten he ever knew”.

The project is also enhanced by the addition of articles on singers and the song tradition, and by the inclusion of some of the all-too-few video recordings of Clare singers available on Youtube. Singers and Songs of County Clare from the Carroll Mackenzie Collection is now live on Clare County Library’s website at

Images above show (from top and left to right): Martin Reidy; Tom Lenihan; Junior Crehan, Ollie Conway and John Joe Healy; and Siney Crotty, Straighty Flanagan and Martin Reidy. All photos courtesy of Pat Mackenzie.

Tom Lenihan from Miltown Malbay at the Kilrush Fleadh in 1967, singing "Stick To The Cratur". Tom also called the song "Paddy's Panacea". Posted on Youtube on the 5th of April 2008 by clarebannerman.

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