The House of McDonnell, 71 Castle Street, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim BT54 6AS Northern Ireland. Tel: 028 2076 2975

Our Songs & Singers!

This region has always been well known for its Singers & Songs.

For example, everyone who is in the least way interested in the traditional singing & songs of Ireland knows of the Coleraine man Sam Henry & his legendary collection of local songs entitled Songs of the People, which local man John Moulden helped to produce.
Sam Henry’s collected songs of the people were collected by him and published in the Northern Constitution between 1923 & 1939
The book Songs of the People actually contains nearly 690 songs.
Songs of the People was edited by Gale HuntingtonLani Herrman with contributions from John Moulden. (University of Georgia Press)
Previously highly regarded but known only from scrapbook copies compiled by Sam Henry for the Belfast Public Library, The National Library of Ireland and the Library of Congress, this, the first book publication, has been presented with the music in staff notation, an introduction, notes and references and extensive indices. 
The basic collection for the North of Ireland.
So this area has produced some wonderful traditional singers over the years, including Stumpy McCluskey
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"Len Graham is one of Ireland’s best known irish singers who has gained an international reputation, not only for his inimitable singing style, but also for the breadth of his knowledge of Irish folk music."

"Len has appeared on at numerous Irish and international folk, literary and storytelling festivals, as well as on radio and television programmes. In 1992 he was awarded the Seán O'Boyle Cultural Traditions Award, in recognition of his work in Ireland as a song collector and singer.  In 2002, he was honored as the inaugural recipient of the TG4 (Irish language and culture television channel) National Music Award for Traditional Singer of the Year.  
His rich recording history spans over thirty years, with more than twenty highly acclaimed albums to his credit."

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"Len Graham has brought together a most fitting, loving tribute to Joe Holmes .."

"Joe holmes was one of Antrim’s finest ever Fiddlers, Singers and Lilters"

"His brother Harry had brought him home a present of his first fiddle on his return from the Great War. Joe's first job was carrying the red warning flag in front of the steam roller, which took him travelling all around the country in a caravan. He took his fiddle on these trips. Some of the fiddle favourites included The Boys of Ballycastle, The Blackberry Blossom, Royal Charlie, Wellington’s Medal and Rodney’s Glory. Joe later left the roadwork and worked at flax-scutching, first for a small mill near Killyrammer, and then into Milltown Mill, in Ballymoney. He then took up a healthier job as a green-keeper for Ballymoney Bowling club."

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"Archie was a great character in the Cushendall area and his fame as a singer has spread far and wide across the British Isles wherever traditional singing is valued."

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"John Moulden is among of the foremost students of Anglophone traditional song in Ireland in which he enjoys a world-wide reputation. He is also a 'well regarded' singer. His interest in songs had its origin in childhood and a disciplined interest in 'folk songs' followed. He has been researching cheaply printed songs and their influence upon the oral tradition since 1968 and this culminated in the recent award of PhD for his thesis, "The Printed Ballad in Ireland: a guide to the popular printing of songs in Ireland, 1760-1920" (NUI Galway, 2006)."

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"Flute player and singer John Kennedy was born at the hamlet of Craigs, just north of the village of Cullybackey in Co. Antrim. He began work at the age of fourteen in the linen trade, the staple industry of his area. So began an association with outstanding fiddler and singer Hughie Surgenor which saw them perform together for local socials and dances, step out playing fifes to Lambeg drumming, and sit in on sessions in the early years of Traditional music revival. John himself fifed on the Twelfth, instructed local marching bands, and in 1975 began teaching dance music at Dunloy and Portglenone CCÉ classes. This produced not only some outstanding flute players like Deirdre Havlin of Ballymoney, but inspired John to compete himself, gaining him many awards for song in the quarter century since. In the early years of his retirement in 1993 he began composing tunes and setting the words of local poets’ verse to music. Here is the life story of ‘the bard of Cullybackey’, his songs and his tunes, all brought to the eyes and ears of a wider public for the first time."
 Together in Time by Fintan Vallely

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"Another quite famous singer from this area was Eddie Butcher (1900-1980) Eddie was born in Aughill, Co Londonderry. As a folk singer he had a rich repertoire, running to around 300 songs including some from his father's and wife's family. It is said that he wrote songs about local occurrences and adopted and adapted old traditional airs to fit into the modern day situation. Eddie Butcher became widely known through broadcasts in the 1960s. He was an influence on Paul Brady, Andy Irvine, Frank Harte and Len Graham. His songs include 'The Tractor' and others traditional songs such as 'The Marriage', 'The Mountain Stream where the Moorcock Crows' and 'David's Flowery Vale'."

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The fact is, North Antrim was full of traditional singers, in the days before the TV took over our lives!
For example, North Antrim singers mentioned as sources, in the 1920's & 30's, for Sam Henry’s collection Songs of the People, include:
John Horner & Robert MacMullan.
Mrs D Cochrane, John Corscadden, Valentine Crawford, William Gault, Randal Hutchinson, Alex Kane, John Leighton, James McCaughan, Joe McConaghy, John McLeese, John McQuillan, Edward Montgomery, James Moore, William Russel, Martin Smylie, Alexander Thompson & John Wilkinson.
James Currie, William Doey, David A Forsyth, Mrs R Kirkpatrick, Sam Laverty, Sally McConaghy, David J McGoogan, Mary McKeever, William Moran, Mrs Morrison, Joseph Reilly, Mrs S Warnock, Annie Wilson, Joe Wilson, James Stewart, Alex Crawford.
Rathlin Island
Lizzie MacMullan

William Davidson, John Henry McAuley, P C J McAuley, Francis McBride, Peggy McGarry, Hector McIlfatrick, J MacKinnon, John McLaughlin, Robet Orr & Mrs Scally.
Ann McAleese, Lizzie Reynolds & William Gamble.

Alexander Horner - Mosside, Mary Ann Young & John Moore - Liscolman Violet McAfee - Ballybogey, Eileen Campbell & Mrs Simpson - Dervock William Laverty & Mrs Charles Moore - Stranocum John Smylie - Clough, Patrick McMullan - Cloughmills
Andrew Doey & William Moore - Dunloy.
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