Oldtime Records: Vol. 2 – U.S. Recordings – Traditional Irish Recordings from 1923 to 1947


Oldtime Records OTR 102; 72 minutes; 2007


The second recording to emerge from the repositories of the Galway-based 78s collectors Gerry Clarke and Emmett Gill follows firmly in its predecessor’s footsteps in covering shellac releases either previously never reissued in LP or CD formats or ‘otherwise currently available’. However, this time around many of the tunes included will certainly be familiar to any Irish music enthusiast.


Of course, all of the usual suspects are present – Killoran, Morrisons both John and Tom, Coleman, the Flanagans and Frank Quinn, but there are plenty of surprises in store.


Firstly, there’s Michael Coleman’s Prohibition Reel, dating from 1923 and not included in either Harry Bradshaw’s Viva Voce/Gael Linn collection or the more recent release from the Coleman Heritage Centre. The piano accompaniment provided by one Arthur Kenna is far too forward in the mix (indeed those with aurally over-sensitive dogs should ensure that the pooches are outside before playing this track) and the duet with fellow-fiddler Tom Gannon on The Contradiction, the second part of the set, is not exactly awe-inspiring.


Additionally, there’s a quite startling rendition of Over the Moors to Maggie/Big Pat’s Reel from the Leitrim flute-player John McKenna, a very early 1922 acoustic recording on which John plays a somewhat unusual instrument pitched in the key of F. His county compatriot, the piper Michael Gallagher, also provides dazzling versions of The Plains of Boyle and The Leitrim Fancy, one of his only two known commercial recordings.


Add to these one of the earliest recorded accordion/banjo duets in the shape of PJ Conlon and Walter Lally’s Tuam Reel/The Salamanca and another fine duo in the form of Paddys Killoran and Sweeney playing the Decca Polkas (in honour of their record label – it’s actually The Return of Spring) and this compilation is as utterly enthralling as its forebear.


Geoff Wallis


23rd April, 2008



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