Preserving the Music and Legacy of a Pioneer of the Irish Concertina
Paddy Murphy (1913-1992) Fiach Roe, County Clare, Ireland
Influenced by the recordings of William J. Mullaly, the first Irish concertina player to record commercially during the Golden Age of Irish Music in America in the 1920s, Paddy Murphy is regarded as a founding father of modern Irish concertina music.
A native of Fiach Roe, a rural community in the musically rich heartland of West Clare, Paddy Murphy pioneered a unique system of cross-row fingering that facilitated the use of alternative scales for traditional dance tunes in keys that were largely unfamiliar to most of his peers in the 1940s and 1950s.
One of the first Clare musicians to broadcast on Radio Éireann, Murphy was also a competitive pioneer of the instrument. His victory at the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Cavan town in 1954 marked the first appearance of the concertina in a national music competition.
Lauded by uilleann piper Willie Clancy as Ireland’s ‘finest concertina player’, Murphy, who died in 1992, was also a gifted teacher. His students included Dr. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin, Gerald Haugh, Miriam Collins and Noel Hill, the latter who has promoted the concertina music of Clare far and wide, and whose teaching has influenced concertina enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic.
To learn more about the life of Paddy Murphy, peruse transcripts of tunes, photos, revisit the era through newspaper articles of the period and much more, please visit us at the Paddy Murphy project.