Play recording: Tradition Club Session: 18th July 1973
This particular recording has never been released publicly before, and so represents something of a coup for the Cartlanna. By happy co-incidence, the timing was such that we were delighted to be able to publish it here on Wednesday 18th July 2018 — forty-five years to the day after it was made, and not too far from the hour. But perhaps the biggest co-incidence is that 18th July 1973 was a Wednesday also!
The recording is of the whole session, and runs for about an hour and a quarter. Joe’s songs start at: 00:14:11 (One Morning in June), 00:17:45 (An Buinneán Buí), 00:22:22 (Johnny is the Fairest Man), 00:53:22 (Seven Drunken Nights), 00:58:33 (The Seven Irishmen), 01:04:25 (Casadh an tSúgáin), 01:08:28 (Boys From Home) and 01:12:01 (Cúnnla).
view / hide recording details [+/-]
- Teideal (Title): Tradition Club Session: 18th July 1973.
- Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): none.
- Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
- Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 3381 (One Morning in June), 419 (Johnny is the Fairest Man), 114 (Seven Drunken Nights), 3104 (The Seven Irishmen), 34589 (Boys From Home) ⁊ 12771 (Cúnnla).
- Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
- Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
- Cnuasach (Collection): Karl Partridge, County Down, Northern Ireland.
- Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): Irish and English.
- Catagóir (Category): song, music.
- Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney, Peter Browne, Kevin Conneff, John Kelly, Joe Ryan, Seán Cannon.
- Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Karl Partridge, Frank Jeal.
- Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 18/07/1973.
- Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Tradition Club, Slattery’s, Capel Street, Dublin 1, Ireland. [Eircode: D01 YN83]
- Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): traditional music session.
- Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
- Athchóiriú digiteach (Digital restoration): Míċeál Ó Loċlainn.
- Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): © Karl Partridge. All rights reserved.
- Stádas chóipcheart ábhair bhreise (Additional material copyright status): Datasheet © Karl Partridge. All rights reserved.
Original metadata recorded by Karl Partridge
General technical metadata
Transcribed from Karl’s datasheet.
- Tape type: BASF C90 cassette tape
- Length: C90
- Condition: good
- Tape no: F20
- Source: Recorded live by Karl Partridge (N Ireland)
- Date: 18 July 1973
- Location: Tradition Club Slattery[’]s of Capel Street, Dublin
- End side A: 45:27
- End of recording [End side B]: 31:38
Tracks: tunes and songs
Again, transcribed from the original datasheet. But note that in this transcription, start times are given for both the original tape recording and the digitised version available in the player.
|Track||Start [tape]||[Start player]||Artist||County / Town||Instrument||Tune or song type||Title|
|1||00:00||[00:00:00]||Peter Browne / Kevin Conneff||Dublin / Dublin||Tin Whistle / Bodhrán Kevin Conneff [sic]||Reels||Green Groves of Éireann / Clogher Reel|
|2||01:54||[00:01:51]||Peter Browne / Kevin Conneff||Dublin / Dublin||Tin Whistle / Bodhrán||Jig||The Pipe on the Hob|
|3||03:32||[00:03:30]||Peter Browne||Dublin||Uilleann Pipes||Jig||Gillian[’]s Apples|
|4||05:44||[00:05:40]||Peter Browne||Dublin||Uilleann Pipes||Reels||The Old Bush / Hardy’s Reel or Ravelled Hank Yarn|
|5||08:30||[00:08:22]||Peter Browne||Dublin||Uilleann Pipes||Jig||Old Hag [Y]ou [H]ave [K]illed [M]e|
|6||10:36||[00:10:28]||Peter Browne||Dublin||Uilleann Pipes||Reel||Pinch of Snuff|
|7||13:12||[00:12:51]||Peter Browne||Dublin||Uilleann Pipes||Slip Jig||The Dusty Miller|
|8||19:30||[00:14:11]||Seosamh Ó Héanaí [sic]||Carna, Gaillimh & SAM||Vocals||Song (macaronic)||One Morning in June|
|9||18:08||[00:17:45]||Seosamh Ó Héanaí [sic]||Carna, Galway||Vocals||Song (Irish)||An Buinneán Buí|
|10||22:44||[00:22:22]||Seosamh Ó Héanaí [sic]||Carna, Galway||Vocals||Song (English)||Johnny is the Fairest Man|
|11||27:10||[00:26:50]||John Kelly [/] Joe Ryan||Clare & Dublin [/] Clare||Fiddles||Reels||Sligo Maid|
|12||29:29||[00:28:54]||John Kelly [/] Joe Ryan||Clare & Dublin [/] Clare||Fiddles||Hornpipe||Cronin’s Hornpipe|
|13||31:45||[00:31:02]||John Kelly [/] Joe Ryan||Clare & Dublin [/] Clare||Fiddles||Hornpipe||Ace & Deuce of Piping|
|14||32:35||[00:32:00]||John Kelly [/] Joe Ryan||Clare & Dublin [/] Clare||Fiddles||Jig||Geese in the Bog|
|15||33:51||[00:33:08]||Seán Cannon (Dubliners)||Galway / UK||Vocals||Song (English)||Ned of the Hill (Éamon an [C]hnoic)|
|16||36:41||[00:36:01]||Seán Cannon (Dubliners)||Galway / UK||Vocals||Song (English)||South Wind|
|17||39:47||[00:39:06]||Seán Cannon (Dubliners)||Galway / UK||Vocals||Song (English)||Waterford Boys|
|18||42:20||[00:41:38]||Peter Browne / Kevin Conneff||Dublin / Dublin||Uilleann Pipes / Bodhrán||Reel||Drowsy Maggie|
|19||43:34||[00:42:55]||Peter Browne / Kevin Conneff||Dublin / Dublin||Tin Whistle / Bodhrán||Reel||Miss Crawford[’]s Reel|
|1||00:00||[00:44:44]||Peter Browne||Dublin||Uilleann Pipes||Jig||The Gold Ring|
|2||03:36||[00:48:19]||Peter Browne||Dublin||Uilleann Pipes||Reels||First House in Connacht / Copperplate|
|3||05:58||[00:50:40]||Peter Browne||Dublin||Uilleann Pipes||Reel||Jenny’s Welcome to Charlie|
|4||08:39||[00:53:22]||Seosamh Ó Héanaí [sic]||Carna, Galway||Vocals||Song (English)||Seven Drunken Nights|
|5||13:50||[00:58:33]||Seosamh Ó Héanaí [sic]||Carna, Galway||Vocals||Song (English)||The Seven Irishmen|
|6||19:44||[01:04:25]||Seosamh Ó Héanaí [sic]||Carna, Galway||Vocals||Song (Irish)||Casadh an tSúgáin|
|7||23:45||[01:08:28]||Seosamh Ó Héanaí [sic]||Carna, Galway||Vocals||Song (English)||Boys, From Home [sic]|
|8||27:22||[01:12:01]||Seosamh Ó Héanaí [sic]||Carna, Galway||Vocals||Song (macaronic)||Cúnnla [sic]|
|9||30:51||[01:15:45]||Ceoltóirí éagsúla||[no data recorded]||General session||Reel||Boy in the Gap|
|Track||Start [tape]||[Start player]||Artist||County / Town||Instrument||Tune or song type||Title|
The original tape
Brú na nGael, seen referenced on side 2, was a club in North Great George’s Street, near Parnell Square, Dublin, where musicians, singers and listeners used to go on Wednesday night after Slatterys. Karl Partridge recalls an occasion when
Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill was performing at the Olympia Theatre and wanted to go to Bru na nGael after the show. She had a large harpsichord with her so we put it into Frank Jeal’s campervan [see below] and took her and her instrument up there.
By Míċeál Ó Loċlainn
As indicated in the recording details, this material was kindly made available to Cartlanna Sheosaimh Uí Éanaí by Doctor Karl Partridge of County Down. Karl told us:
I used to be a regular attendee at those Tradition Club sessions while I was at Trinity [College Dublin] and I made a lot of recordings, some of which have been submitted to the ITMA†. I remember recording Seán Ó Conaire‡ on one occasion… this was the only one of Joe.
Karl also mentioned the indirect role played by Doctor Frank Jeal — the man with the green accordion — in the creation of this and other recordings made at The Tradition Club:
It was my former lecturer in Trinity (Dr Frank Jeal) that got me interested in traditional music and I used to go to Slattery’s with him while at college. Sadly he died last year … his obituary was published in the Irish Times.
The photo Frank Jeal (1) was taken in 1973 and shows Frank coming out of his van (the Jealmobile!) heading for a session in Mark’s Bar, now Toale’s, in Dundalk. Frank Jeal (2) is of Frank in the basement of The Lincoln’s Inn, Dublin, around 1972, where he had sessions for musical friends and students who were members of a ‘club’ he founded which he named the ‘Cultural Binge Society’!
†At time of writing, it would appear that it’s not possible to link directly to a listing of these items on the ITMA’s main website. However, a search for “Karl Partridge Collection” (including the double inverted commas) at itmacatalogues.ie seems to do the trick.
‡This is the Seán Ó Conaire who was nicknamed ‘007’. The Irish surname ‘Ó Conaire’ is frequently anglicised as ‘Conroy’, certainly in Joe Heaney’s native district, but often enough it’s also rendered ‘Connery’.
For readers interested in sean-nós singing elsewhere in Ireland, a song about three brothers of that name, Na Conneries features prominently in the tradition of Na Déise (County Waterford). An excellent native rendition by Nioclás Tóibín, taken from the album Amhráin Aneas, can be found on YouTube.
And here’s a photo, taken by Liam Clancy, of Nioclás and Joe together in Tigh Mhuirithe, Ceann Heilbhic, Rinn Ua gCuanach. It’s reproduced here in the Cartlanna by kind permission of Liam’s widow, Kim. We don’t know when the picture was taken but Kim believes it may have been at some point in the ninteen sixties, before Joe went to America.
Compare and contrast: other recordings of Joe’s songs
Most of the songs sung by Joe at this Tradition Club session were part of his main repertoire and at least one recording of each is already present elswhere in the Cartlanna. However, it’s worth noting that this one pre-dates most of the other recordings we have here by at least five years — with the notable exception of one which it post-dates by well over a quarter of a century! This is important, as it showcases a singing voice that’s five to ten years younger than the one that predominates in these archives.
Perhaps more importantly though, this recording is one of the few we have in the Cartlanna of a performance given by Joe in Ireland. Not to find fault with the others of course — far from it — but most of them were given abroad, in teaching environments, to students who weren’t Irish and who had no native understandings of the material or the cultural continua from which it emerged. Like many a good performer — and teacher — Joe would, to some degree or other, have pitched his presentation according to the audience in front of him. At the Tradition Club, he would have been conscious of the fact that there were culturally-aware, critically-attentive listeners in the audience, and singers and musicians of comparable stature beside him ‘on stage’. The imperative wasn’t to explain and interperate the material but to perform it to the expected standard, which in his case was very high indeed. He’s not quite on home turf in this recording, being in Dublin rather than Iorras Aithneach. He’s not even in the Gaeltacht. So he’s not among his immediate cultural, musical and linguistic peers. But he’s near enough — and he wasn’t going to let himself or his tradition down.
For these reasons, this Tradition Club recording is a unique and especially significant addition to the Cartlanna. The following may be of help to readers wishing to explore similarities and differences for themselves.
- One Morning in June
- Cynthia Thiessen recorded a performance of this song by Joe during a day class at University of Washington, United States of America, on 6th March 1978.
- An Buinneán Buí
- There are no less than three other recordings in the Cartlanna of Joe singing this song.
- The first of these, in Irish, was recorded by Joan Rabinowitz in Seattle, Washington, United States of America, for a radio programme which is believed to have been broadcast on 10th October 1984; some five months after Joe’s death.
- The second, in English, was also recorded by Rabinowitz on 10th June the previous year, at the Seabold Community Center, Bainbridge Island, Washington, United States of America.
- And the third, again in English, was recorded by Jill Linzee at University of Washington, United States of America, at some point between 1982 and 1984.
- Also, see further discussion, below.
- Johnny is the Fairest Man
- Sonia Tamar Seeman recorded Joe singing this at some point during 1983. This is significant in that Joe died on May Day 1984, meaning that the recording was made toward the end of his life.
- On this evening at the Tradition Club, Joe introduced the song as The Verdant Braes of Skreen. As Karl Partridge points out,
[it] was collected by Cecil Sharp in the 1800s and goes by various names. As is to be expected with a song of this antiquity, considerable lyrical variety has also evolved: see discussion at Mudcat and Mainly Norfolk.
- Seven Drunken Nights
- Joe sang this at a workshop in University of Washington on 1st March 1978. It was collected by Esther Warkov.
- The Cartlanna also include a recording of Joe singing Peigín is Peadar, which has textual similarities to Seven Drunken Nights.
- The Seven Irishmen
- Séamas Ennis recorded Joe singing this in 1942.
- So as to Joe’s claim at The Tradition Club that he’d never sung it before, it may be that in the thirty-one year interim he really hadn’t and that he’d genuinely forgotten that there was a time when he had. (How many wide-repertoire singers in 2018 would be likely to remember exactly what songs they did and didn’t sing in 1987?) Or it might an example of stagecraft; of his occasional tendency to ‘embellish’ the truth if he thinks it’ll add to the audience’s enjoyment.
- Casadh an tSúgáin
- Discussed and sung for an unknown collector in November 1983.
- Sung at a concert and recorded by Gerald Shannon. Location and date unknown.
- Boys From Home
- Joe sang this for Lucy Simpson, and discussed its place in the repertoire of Carna, his native area, in June 1980.
- (Also spelt Connla, Cunnla, Cúnnla, ⁊ɼl…)
- This version was recorded at the Sydney Opera House by Warren Fahy in 1981.
- And this one, part of the Máire Mhic Fhinn Collection, was recorded by Liam Clancy. Recording location and date unknown.
One Morning in June, Casadh an tSúgáin, Cúnnla and Peigín is Peadar can be found on the album Traditional Irish Songs in Gaelic and English (Topic Records Ltd., 1963; 12T91). The album is available in iTunes.
An Buinneán Buí
For readers not familiar with the song, the buinneán buí (also bonnán buí) is a species of bird. However, there’s scope for confusion as to what that species actually is. The name ‘yellow bittern’ derives from the translation into English of buinneán buí. It was used by Joe himself when he was speaking English and continues to have currency in general usage within Ireland. However, the correct formal English name for this bird is ‘Bittern’ or (in the recently revised world list of bird names) ‘Eurasian Bittern’. Since there are Joe Heaney and sean-nós fans elsewhere in the world, it may do no harm to give a brief clarification.
Gordon d’Arcy’s book, Ireland’s Lost Birds (Four Courts Press, 2000), tells us that the buinneán buí was once common in Ireland — certainly during the time of Cathal Buí Mac Ghiolla Ghunna, the author of the poem which lends the song its lyrics — but had almost entirely disappeared from there by the start of the twentieth century. (D’Arcy also points out that the bird is very susceptible to cold winters and actually references the poem in this regard.)
The confusion arises from sources that state that the ‘yellow bittern’ is only found in the far-east. Fortunately, ornithology is one of Karl Partridge’s professional specialities, so we asked him to explain the apparent contradiction:
The Bittern or Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris is a member of the Heron, Stork and Ibis group of birds (Order: Ciconiiformes). These are large or medium sized wading birds with long legs, neck and bill. The Bittern breeds only in extensive Phragmites reedbeds. It is buff-brown — or ginger-brown from a distance — which is probably why in Irish it was called the ‘Yellow Bittern’… (The Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis is, in fact, a different species found in Asia and the Indian sub-continent.)
David Cabot (1999). Ireland, a Natural History. New Naturalist Series. HarperCollins. States that…the great fen reed beds in the Central Plain and elsewhere in Ireland once echoed the booming bittern, extinct as a breeding species since the 1840s.Drainage and shooting were the main reasons for its extinction. Today it occurs only as a scarce vagrant, mostly in winter months, but there is hope that with the current expansion of the British population it will someday recolonise Ireland.
The bittern is included in a List of Irish Names of Birds prepared by Seán Mac Giollarnáth, M.R.I.A included in Kennedy, P.G., Ruttledge R.F. and Scroope C.F. 1954. The Birds of Ireland. Oliver and Boyd.
The entry reads: Bittern, Common: Bunnán buidhe, bunnán léana. [These spellings pre-date the standardisation of the late 1940s].
The recording, as presented here in the Cartlanna, has undergone a moderate digital restoration in which each track was separated-out and cleaned-up individually; just enough to improve listenability but without removing the ‘recorded live’ atmosphere and feel.
- The volume was raised.
- Analogue tape hiss was attenuated.
- Minor adjustments were made to the bass and treble.
- Sections of ambient sound between the actual songs and tunes were removed.
- As were some of the more obtrusive clicks and rumbles of the kind that are usually found in these sorts of recordings.
- (The removal of these sections is the reason Karl’s original time codes don’t apply to the digitised version.)
- A gap in one of the stereo channels on Side B of the tape was filled.
To preserve authenticity, sundry shushes have been left exactly where they were!
The Tradition Club
Meanwhile in 1973
Other events on, near or around the Irish traditional music scene:
- Willie Clancy died on 24th January.
- Dónal Joseph O’Sullivan died on 15th April.
- The Dubliners released Plain and Simple. (Side 2, track 4: Skibbereen.)
- Horslips released The Táin.
- Planxty released Planxty.
- Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann took place in Listowel.
- The Sydney Opera House was opened. (Joe performed there three years later)
- Thin Lizzy got to number one with Whiskey in the Jar.
- And Little Jimmy Ozmond followed them with Long Haired Lover from Liverpool…
- Éamon de Valera left the office of President of Ireland.
- Erskine Childers was elected to succeed him.
- Liam Cosgrave became Taoiseach.
- 27,000 Irish households had a colour TV.
- Cork brought home Sam.
- Limerick brought home Liam.
- Which, by another 45 year co-incidence, they didn’t do again until 2018!
- Ireland joined the Common Market.
- And so did the United Kingdom…