Book Launch | No Better Boy: Listening to Paddy Canny

Viewing Times: 15 — 15 May 2023  Venue: Irish Traditional Music Archive Event Over

Paddycanny booklaunch

The Irish Traditional Music Archive will host the Dublin book launch of No Better Boy: Listening to Paddy Canny by Helen O'Shea at 6pm on Monday 15 May, with special guest speaker Fintan Vallely – musician, author, songwriter and lecturer.

About the book

No Better Boy tells the story of a master of traditional Irish music: the legendary East Clare fiddler Paddy Canny, whose haunting music was remarkable for its virtuosity and sophistication.

In the 1950s, when he was in his thirties and at the pinnacle of his career, Paddy Canny became a national radio star, played solo in Carnegie Hall, toured England with the renowned Tulla Céilí Band, and made a much-loved recording. All were extraordinary achievements for a man raised on a marginal farm, where the gramophone records that inspired him were accessible only through the good grace of neighbours. In richly evocative prose, Helen O’Shea distils stories of success and adversity that Paddy Canny told to family and friends, to radio interviewers and historians. These stories illuminate rural life in mid-twentieth-century Ireland, major social and economic changes, and the decline and revival of traditional music and dancing.

A compelling story told with passion and insight, this is a book for readers with an interest in Ireland’s social history and for music lovers everywhere.

No Better Boy includes annotated transcriptions of music played by Paddy Canny and his contemporaries, sourced from archives and personal collections as well as commercial recordings.

About the author

Helen O’Shea is the Australian author of non-fiction works about Irish traditional music, including her acclaimed book The Making of Irish Traditional Music (2008). She has also published creative non-fiction based on oral history projects in rural Australia. For most of her life, Helen has performed Irish traditional music on the fiddle, mentored by musicians from East Galway and East Clare, including Paddy Canny’s brother Jack, who migrated to Australia in the 1960s. From first hearing a recording of Paddy Canny playing with P. J. Hayes, she fell in love with his music, as so many listeners have. Her musical understanding developed during her years as a graduate student in Ireland c1980, while researching Seamus Heaney’s poetry, in extended visits to Ireland and during a year of doctoral fieldwork in East Clare in 2000. Her experience teaching and researching at universities in Ireland and Australia encompasses literature, history and music. She is currently an honorary research fellow in ethnomusicology at the University of Melbourne.