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Paddy Killoran, 1904–1974

Paddykilloransorchestra
Paddy Killoran's Pride of Erin Orchestra [Back row: unidentified, drums ; Paddy Killoran, fiddle ; Paddy Sweeney, fiddle. Front row: Michael Whitey Andrews, banjo ; Jack Healy, saxophone ; Tommy Flanagan, melodeon ; Jimmy McGinn, piano ; Paulie Ryan, clarinet] / Unidentified photographer. New York, 1920s - 1930s.

Paddy Killoran was born into a vibrant music environment on 21 September 1903 at Emlaghgissan near Ballymote, County Sligo and was the youngest of the celebrated south Sligo fiddlers. While his father John played flute and his mother, Mary the concertina, Paddy was influenced by local fiddle master Philip O'Beirne. A member of the South Sligo Brigade of the I.R.A. during the War of Independence and Irish Civil War, Killoran emigrated to New York in 1925 where he came under the wing of Sligo native and fiddler, James Morrison. He established his own ''orchestra'', playing for dances in ballrooms throughout New York area, radio broadcasts and at various Irish summer resorts. Killoran released his first 78 rpm's in 1931 and over the following decade he recorded solo, in duet with Paddy Sweeney and with a variety of groups. Like James Morrison, he engaged in various business ventures including ''Killoran's Tavern'' and ''Killoran's and Cleary's Cabaret'' in the late 1940s. He also made several trips back to Ireland and broadcast on Raidió Éireann which enhanced his reputation at home.

See below for more on Paddy Killoran.

Now playing: Memories of Sligo, barndance ; McDermott's, hornpipe ; The Mullingar races, reel / Paddy Killoran ; Paddy Sweeney
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  1. Memories of Sligo, barndance ; McDermott's, hornpipe ; The Mullingar races, reel / Paddy Killoran ; Paddy Sweeney

    Memories of Sligo, barndance ; McDermott's, hornpipe ; The Mullingar races, reel / Paddy Killoran ; Paddy Sweeney

  2. Bat Henry's favorite, barndance ; Chaffpool Post, barndance / Paddy Killoran, fiddle ; Paddy Sweeney, fiddle ; E Tucker, piano

    Bat Henry's favorite, barndance ; Chaffpool Post, barndance / Paddy Killoran, fiddle ; Paddy Sweeney, fiddle ; E Tucker, piano

  3. Sweeps hornpipe ; Heirloom, hornpipe / Paddy Killoran's Pride Of Erin Orchestra [incl. James Ryan, saxophone]

    Sweeps hornpipe ; Heirloom, hornpipe / Paddy Killoran's Pride Of Erin Orchestra [incl. James Ryan, saxophone]

  4. Roaring Mary, reel ; The maids of Castlebar, reel / Paddy Killoran, fiddle ; unidentified, guitar

    Roaring Mary, reel ; The maids of Castlebar, reel / Paddy Killoran, fiddle ; unidentified, guitar

  5. O' Dwyer's favorite, reel ; The star of Munster, reel / Paddy Killoran, fiddle ; unidentified, piano

    O' Dwyer's favorite, reel ; The star of Munster, reel / Paddy Killoran, fiddle ; unidentified, piano

  6. Shannon's favorite, highland fling ; Highland bonnet, highland fling / Paddy Killoran, fiddle

    Shannon's favorite, highland fling ; Highland bonnet, highland fling / Paddy Killoran, fiddle

  7. Cherish the ladies, jig / Paddy Killoran, fiddle

    Cherish the ladies, jig / Paddy Killoran, fiddle

Paddy Killoran / Unidentified photographer
Paddy Killoran / Unidentified photographer
Paddy Killoran, fiddle / Unidentified photographer. New York 1920s. Image courtesy ITMA Collection.
 
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Paddy Killoran / Unidentified photographer

Paddy Killoran / Unidentified photographer

Paddy Killoran / Unidentified photographer

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Of the celebrated south Sligo fiddle players who recorded in New York in the 78 rpm era, Patrick J. “Paddy” Killoran was the youngest, and enjoyed the longest life and career.

He was born on 21 September 1903, Killoran in the townland of Emlaghgissan near Ballymote. Music was in the family. His father Patrick played the flute and his mother Mary the concertina but Killoran, perhaps influenced by local fiddle master Philip O'Beirne, took up the fiddle.

Following an adventurous youth that included a stint in the South Sligo Brigade of the IRA, Killoran took an emigrant ship to New York. Within two years, he was lodging with fellow Sligo fiddler James Morrison in west Harlem and playing in Morrison’s “orchestra,” a label attached even to small dance bands of the day. Killoran soon launched his own orchestra, one that took the name of the Pride of Erin Ballrooms in Brooklyn before moving on to west Harlem to become the “Sligo Ballroom Orchestra.”

The Irish ballrooms of New York in the 1920s and ‘1930s were two-room affairs – one dance floor for Irish dancing and another with “American” music. Killoran’s fellow Ballymote emigrant Jack Healy, a singer and saxophone player, led the group that played for the American dancing and joined at times with the crew playing reels and jigs, a group that featured Killoran’s fiddle partner Paddy Sweeney. The Killoran orchestra also broadcast regularly on live radio programs and in the summer performed at Irish resorts on the beach in the Rockaways or in the Catskill Mountains. In 1932, Killoran took his band to Ireland, performing on a liner transporting Irish Catholic pilgrims to and from the Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin.

From 1931 on, Killoran made dozens of 78 rpm recordings as a soloist, in duets with Paddy Sweeney, and with a variety of groups. He continued to perform and record throughout the 1950s. In 1956, Killoran was a co-founder of Dublin Records, which issued new recordings of both New York performers and top Irish ceili bands. Killoran’s dance band, still mixing American and Irish numbers, remained popular and much in demand until his retirement in 1962.

Killoran’s business interests also included ownership or part ownership of at least two bar/restaurants. "Killoran's Tavern" opened in 1942 at 42 West 60th Street near Columbus Circle in Manhattan, taking over a business founded by fellow musicians Jim Clark and George White. After the war, Killoran and Cleary’s Cabaret operated for some years on 138th Street in the south Bronx.

Paddy Killoran’s reputation in Ireland was reinforced by at least two trips home after the Eucharistic Congress voyage. He was featured on a 1949 Raidió Éireann broadcast hosted by piper and folklorist Séamus Ennis. In 1960, he performed at a concert in Longford and visited relations in south Sligo and west Clare, the latter being the home county of his second wife Bridget “Betty” Hayes (Killoran’s first wife, Roscommon native Anna Gorman, died in 1935).

In 1962, age and Illness led Paddy Killoran to turn over his dance band to the leadership of east Galway button accordionist Joe Madden. He passed away on 24 April 1965.

See here for more information on Paddy Killoran in the Post World War II Era.

Paddy and Betty Killoran with Louis Quinn / Unidentified photographer
Paddy and Betty Killoran with Louis Quinn / Unidentified photographer
Paddy Killoran, fiddle ; Betty Killoran ; Louis Quinn, piano accordion / Unidentified photographer. East Durham, New York, 1945. Image courtesy Sean Quinn
 
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Paddy and Betty Killoran with Louis Quinn / Unidentified photographer

Paddy and Betty Killoran with Louis Quinn / Unidentified photographer

Paddy and Betty Killoran with Louis Quinn / Unidentified photographer

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