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Hugh Gillespie (1906–1986), from the townland of Dreenan near Ballybofey, had the good fortune to be introduced to Michael Coleman only days after his arrival in New York. The Sligo master took a shine to the youngster from Donegal and formed a close friendship with him. Coleman tutored Gillespie in the intricacies of his bowing style and took him on as a partner in radio work. Gillespie also played in bands with his accordionist brother Jim. In 1937, Coleman introduced Gillespie to a Decca studio manager who agreed to set up a recording session for the younger fiddler. The first tunes he recorded – “Master Crowley’s Reels” – became a classic side, one that included a rare example of Donegal repertoire on record in the 78 rpm era. Many other tunes on Gillespie’s ten Decca discs were ones he had learned from Coleman, and that Coleman had previously recorded himself. Hugh wisely chose to give them new titles so that listeners who already had the Coleman version might be tempted to purchase his own. The war years of the 1940s put an end to Gillespie’s recording career, along with almost all other Irish traditional artists. But he continued to play, and to teach music to youngsters, both in New York and after returning to live in Donegal with his wife in 1964.

  • Master Crowley's no. 1, reel ; Master Crowley's no. 2, reel / Hugh Gillespie, fiddle ; Mark Callahan, guitar