Séamus O’Mahony: A Hidden Gem in ITMA. Part 4 / “Caill‑taisce’ sa Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann. Uimhir 4

In this the fourth and final blog on Cork fiddle player Séamus O'Mahony (1900—1991), Liam O'Connor introduces the remaining seven tracks from the 1952 reel-to-reel recording. 

ITMA is indebted to Brendan E. O'Mahony, Séamus' son who has generously allowed ITMA to freely share these recordings with the traditional music community.

This final batch of tracks from the recording session of Séamus O’Mahony in 1952, predominantly feature popular tunes like The Rambling Pitchfork, as well as pieces or set dances associated with dancing, such as The Blackbird and The Three Sea Captains

Rambling pitchfork, jig

The blackbird, set dance

Three sea captains, set dance

On the track featuring the well-known hornpipes The Kildare Fancy and The Harvest Home, O’Mahony’s intricate, dexterous left-hand is complimented by a fluid skilled bow-hand. His customary lavish tone and nostalgic vibrato is evident on his rendition of the song-air Teddy O’Neill

Kildare fancy, hornpipe; Harvest home, hornpipe

Teddy O'Neill, song air

For those with very perceptive ears, listen closely to Bonaparte’s Retreat as O’Mahony seems to provoke an excited reaction from a canine listener around the one minute mark!

Bonaparte's retreat, set dance

However, the most unusual item in this recording session remains Sarsfield’s March performed energetically here by the father and son combination. This unique setting was learnt from a travelling musician from Wexford who visited the O’Mahony household in Mitchelstown in the early 20thcentury and it could possibly be termed a descriptive piece. 

ITMA was delighted to receive a copy of a manuscript belonging to Séamus O'Mahony in which a beautifully written transcription of this setting of Sarsfield’s March appears complete with piano accompaniment notated by traditional singer Máire Ní Scolaí (1909—1985). 

Sarsfield's March

Seamus Omahony Playing Fiddle

For those of you seeking more information on this remarkable fiddle player and his extraordinary life, ITMA would recommend reading Brendan E. O’Mahony’s memoir and reflections on his parents’ relationship The Last Word published in 2013.

Written & Researched by:

Liam O'Connor

With thanks to:

Brendan E. O’Mahony, Séamus O’Mahony’s son, for permission to make an outstanding recording from 1952 available to the traditional music community. 

The O'Mahony Family for photographs used in this blog.

Kathy Mirza for her co-operation in 1998 in allowing ITMA copy the 1952 reel-to-reel recording of Séamus O'Mahony in the Fr. Killian Curran Collection.

Seán Keegan, DKIT, who kindly restored the recordings to concert pitch and to the speed at which it was originally played.

ITMA Staff.