Revival Years 1970s–1990s

Tommy McCarey, fiddle ; Martin Wynne, fiddle ; Louis Quinn, fiddle / Unidentified photographer. New York, 1970s. Image courtesy Sean Quinn

The fortunes of Irish traditional music in New York, and in America as a whole, have always been closely tied to emigration. Every new generation that left Ireland in search of better prospects across the water brought its share of pipers, fiddlers, and other musicians. The new arrivals helped keep  old traditions alive in the New World even as most second and third-generation Irish Americans lost touch with their musical roots.

New laws introduced in 1965 made legal immigration from Ireland to the USA more difficult, but this did not deflect a huge influx of Irish during the 1980s recession. Many overstayed their visa and worked off the books in construction or hospitality, while more were able to legalise their status.

One might think that restricting the source of new blood from Ireland would spell the gradual decline of traditional music making among the New York Irish in the 1970s and 1980s. Instead, many of the children and grandchildren of immigrant musicians in New York continued to play, and to teach traditional music to younger generations. In addition to this hard-core Irish community base, traditional music also found new followers, both as  players and listeners, among young Irish Americans in search of cultural roots, and from folk music enthusiasts of all ethnic backgrounds.  

Recordings from the Revival Years 1970s–1990s

Images from the Revival Years 1970s-1990s

Mike Rafferty, 1926–2011

Fr Charlie Coen

Kathleen Collins

Matty and Deirdre Connolly

Brian Conway

Tom Doherty, 1913–1998

Johnny Cronin, 1934–1991

Tony DeMarco

Billy McComiskey

Tom Dunne

Maureen Glynn, 1952–1998

Eileen Ivers

James Keane

Joanie Madden

Brendan Mulvihill

Joe Burke, 1939–2021

John Nolan

Jerry O'Sullivan

Bill Ochs, 1946–2016

History of the Eagle Tavern and Blarney Star Concert Series

Maureen Fitzpatrick