Recording Age 1899–1930s

The Flanagan Brothers [Mike Flanagan, banjo ; Joe Flanagan, accordion] / Unidentified photographer. WNYC Studios, New York, 9 December 1926

New York City in the 1920s was the Irish music capital of the world. The city was thronged with Irish immigrants, hard-working folk with enough disposable income to patronize dance halls and cabarets where Irish music was played, and to buy Irish music recordings to play at home. Hundreds of Irish music 78 rpm discs were released in the 1920s, and the bulk of them were recorded in the New York area.

The impact of these recordings in Ireland was immense. New York musicians played with fast-paced virtuosity and added a touch of big city glamour to the rural dance tunes. Traditional musicians in Ireland began to emulate the music they heard on the records, making the repertoire of the 78 rpm recording artists from New York a de facto national standard that persists in Ireland to this day. 

The good times ended abruptly with the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed with little money in the pockets of Irish New Yorkers. However, many superb recordings were released during the lean years including ''Bonnie Kate ; Jennie's Chickens'' and ''The Tarbolton'' set by Michael Coleman in 1934. Other notable recording artists from the 1930s include Paddy Killoran, Frank Quinn, John McKenna and The McNulty Family.

Sounds from the Recording Age

Images from the Recording Age

John McKenna, 1880–1947

Eddie Burke, d. 1967

Margaret McNiff-Locke. b. 1886

James Clark [Jim Clarke]

Peter Conlon, 1894–1967

Packie Dolan, 1904–1932

John Gerrity and James McInerney

Tom Ennis, 1888–1931

The Flanagan Brothers

Hugh Gillespie, 1906–1986

Redie Johnston and the McLaughlin Family of Roscommon

James Hayden and The Advocate

Michael Coleman, 1891-1945

Paddy Killoran, 1904–1974

Michael Carney, 1872–1938

John McGrath, 1900–1955

Michael Gallagher, 1886-1971

The Women of New York

Frank Quinn, 1893–1964

James Morrison, 1893–1947

William Mullaly, 1884-1950s

The McNulty Family

Tom Morrison, 1889–1958