Seán McGuire


Seán McGuire Plays


Viva VV103; 1968


Track listing:


1.      The Black Swan & Spellan`s Inspiration (hornpipes)

2.      Róisín Dubh (slow air)

3.      Tone Rowe`s & The Blue Idol (jigs)

4.      Andy McGann`s & The Humours of Scariff (reels)

5.      The Snowy-Breasted Pearl (slow air)

6.      Betty`s Fancy & Grant’s (reels)

7.      Dowd`s Favourite & Colonel Frazer (reels)

8.      Where Did You Find Her? & The Eclipse (hornpipes)

9.      A Famine Lament

10.  The International, The Pigeon on the Gate & The Crib of Perches (reels)

11.  The Bee`s Wing Hornpipe & Montgomery`s Rant

12.  Bonnie Kate & Jenny`s Chicken`s (reels)

This seminal and inspirational album was Seán`s first recording with Josephine Keegan on piano and is possibly only surpassed by his legendary Music of Ireland album released some eight years earlier on the Avoca label. Recorded in England, where Sean lived throughout most of the 1960s, the energy and vitality of McGuire`s playing leaves you breathless, like a certain brand of Russian Vodka, and the selection of tunes is superb. The influence and repertoire of this release is evident in many of the fiddle albums recorded since, sadly without little  acknowledgment paid to Seán.


This slice of vinyl ceased to be available from about 1970 onwards and has never been reissued. The title of the last Altan album, The Blue Idol, might owe its origins to Seán’s release, though the band plays the tune in the key of A, suggesting a Scottish influence, and cites the Teelin fiddler Con Cassidy as its source – Seán’s version is in the key of D. For the record, the Blue Idol is (or was) a Quaker Meeting House in Sussex in England. Seán tells me the beautiful cover picture of his album was taken there. My favourite track is number ten: three great reels, the first of which Seán claims to have composed himself.


If you see or hear of a spare copy of this album, snap it up!

Michael Costello


October, 2004



Many thanks to Michael both providing the cover picture and for his review of what, I hope, will turn out to be the first in a series of ‘classic vinyl’ articles.


In line with other pages here at The Irish Music Review all references to Seán Maguire have been changed to Seán McGuire. This decision was based on a personal conversation with Seán in which I asked him precisely which version of his name he preferred and he quickly demonstrated by autographing my copy of Fiddle on the Fiddle with the words ‘Seán McGuire’.




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