Font sizing



Sign up to ITMA Archive

Signing up to the ITMA archive provides the ability to save content you find across the site and access directly from your own dashboard.

Register now


Tommy Peoples as a young boy

Chapter One: At Home in Kinnycally

Illustration | Libby McCrohan

Scoil Trad Recordings. Growing up 1 of 2 / Tommy Peoples, speech in English

Tommy Peoples as a young boy
1911 Census, reproduced by kind permission of the Director of the National Archives.
Kinnycally dance hall

Scoil Trad Recordings. Growing up 2 of 2 / Tommy Peoples, speech in English

“I was one of the few of my generation in my particular area to have the music of the older generation passed on to me through Joe.”

Tommy Peoples
Joe Cassidy

Scoil Trad Recordings. Influences 1 of 2 / Tommy Peoples, speech in English

Scoil Trad Recordings. Influences 2 of 2 / Tommy Peoples, speech in English

“I first heard Bob [Peoples] play Miss Crawford’s at Tom McMenamin’s during one of those fiddle-playing get-togethers that moved from house to house where everyone passed a fiddle around. He also played The Yellow Heifer, a reel known as The Bunch of Keys today. In those days the most used and accessible music collection was Kerr’s, a Scottish collection which also included some Irish tunes. Bob played a lot of strathspeys and unusual tunes, as well as the usual reels and jigs. He probably played this tune to honour Sam’s, and Miss Crawford’s, Scottish connection. Others would also play some Scottish tunes on those nights, as well as Irish.”

Tommy Peoples

Tommy Peoples' earliest recording / Ciarán Mac Mathúna, speech in English ; Tommy Peoples, speech in English, fiddle ; RTÉ Radio Archives

Tommy Peoples as a teenager
Joe Mhící Ban pictured back row centre.

“My National School teacher, a dedicated teacher, who was from Gola Island…taught every subject through Irish, used to have me come to school early as he wanted me to sit an examination which might enable me to get free secondary education by winning a County Council scholarship.”

Tommy Peoples

“Well, I remember being up at the school gates on mornings after Letterkenny music nights. The school stood alone at the top of a hilly area. Whilst standing at the gate, awaiting the teacher, I could hear music coming from the school play sheds as if it really was playing there.”

Tommy Peoples
St. Eunan's

“I did get that scholarship and went as a boarder to St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny. Music lifted my spirit in St Eunan’s in the sense that I discovered Pa [and Ma] Butler. Pa, who was an old man then in my childish eyes, played the fiddle some, mostly slow airs. I got to know him and eventually left my own fiddle at this house. Then I slipped out of the college most nights to visit him, when he’d play some tunes and Ma would make a cup of tea.”

Tommy Peoples

Tommy Peoples talks about musicians in his childhood / Tommy Peoples, speech in Irish ; TG4 Canúintí Ceoil