Font sizing



There wasn’t much work in New York in the late 1950s for a true céilí band. So, when the cream of the Big Apple’s Irish traditional musicians decided to form the New York Céilí Band in 1958, they weren’t looking to turn a profit but were perhaps looking to prove that New Yorkers could play at least as well as the celebrated bands winning competitions in Ireland. The line-up was impressive, to say the least. Anchoring the group was Paddy O’Brien, arguably the greatest Irish button accordionist of all time. The all-star fiddle section included Larry Redican, Andy McGann and Paddy Reynolds. Jack Coen and Mike Dorney played flutes, Chris Darcy the drums and Gerry Wallace the piccolo while Felix Dolan was at the piano. Unfortunately, the tracks the band recorded in the studio were never commercially released. When they journeyed to Boyle, County Roscommon to compete at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in 1960, McGann and Darcy were not able to make the trip. Paddy O’Brien, Jack Coen and Larry Redican won the trio championship but the New York Céilí Band, sans percussion, were placed third. Not the victory they’d hoped for, but according to Charlie Lennon, a great encouragement to other overseas bands like his own Liverpool Céilí Band to enter future competitions.

  • The New York jig ; Contentment is wealth, jig ; The Killimor jig [comp. Seán Ryan] / New York Céilí Band

  • King of the clans, reel ; Golden keyboard, reel [comp. Martin Mulhaire] ; The peeler's jacket, reel / New York Céilí Band

New York Céilí Band [Felix Dolan, piano ; Paddy Reynolds, fiddle ; Paddy O'Brien, accordion ; Chris Darcy, drums ; Andy McGann, fiddle ; Steve Quinn, accordion ; Michael Dorney, flute ; Larry Redican, fiddle ; Gerry Wallace, piccolo] / Unidentified photographer. New York, 1960s. Image courtesy Eileen O'Brien.