Audio Playlists

Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band 78s, 1920s–1930s

33 Sound Recordings
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A successful dance-hall, gramophone and radio band in Boston from the mid-1920s, Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band specialised in the playing of Irish traditional music and popular songs. Known as Sullivan’s Shamrock Band on its earliest discs, it recorded extensively in New York and Boston for the Columbia, Victor and Decca companies, from 1926 to 1934.

Dan Sullivan was a classically trained piano player, the American-born son of a Cork-Kerry professional fiddle and flute player of the same name, and he worked for the Steinway Piano Corporation in Boston before himself becoming a full-time professional. The earliest lineups of his recording band featured a core of Kerry musicians: Michael C. Hanafin on fiddle, Daniel J. Murphy on uilleann pipes, and Daniel P. Moroney on whistle. Later lineups included Sligo, Galway and Irish-American musicians, and introduced flute, accordion and banjo.

All the Sullivan Band recordings held by the Irish Traditional Music Archive are presented here. While their music was recorded for dancing rather than for listening to, the band was one of the first Irish groups to benefit from the fidelity of electrical sound recording, which was introduced by the large American commercial companies from 1925, and its instruments can be distinctly heard in the best recordings. Some of the ITMA discs are quite worn and noisy or faint, but are presented here at the end of the sequence for the sake of interest.

With thanks to donors of discs Ciarán Dalton, Jim Carroll & Pat Mackenzie, Vincent Duffe, Gearóid Gallagher, Gearóid Jackson, John Loesberg, Dan Maher, Kevin O’Reilly, Kieran Owens, Gay McKeon, John Butler, John Brennan, John & James Kelly, Caoimhín Mac Aoidh, & Tom Munnelly. ITMA would welcome donations, or loans for copying, of any Sullivan Shamrock Band recordings not presented here, or of better copies of worn discs. The photograph is reproduced courtesy of the Tamiment Library / Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University. It is a Victor Talking Machine Co publicity photograph dating from 1928, and it is part of the Library's Archives of Irish America: Mick Moloney Irish American Music and Popular Culture Papers collection. Dan Sullivan is seated centre right; the fiddle player at top left is Michael C. Hanafin, at top right is Mike Mullin; the flute player is Murty Rabbett, the drummer Jim O'Brien, the banjo player Neil Nolan, and the accordion player Connie Hanafin (with thanks to Daniel Neely for identifications via Facebook).

NC & BD, 1 June 2014

Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band 78s, 1920s–1930s Image

Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band 78s, 1920s–1930s
Title:Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band 78s, 1920s–1930s