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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