Sunday, August 12, 2012

North Antrim Fiddle Players of yesteryear!


This is a list of more 
North Antrim Fiddle Players.
For most of this information, I'd like to thank Ballycastle Historian 
Danny Morgan 
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Jamie Benson

Wee Jamie, as he was known, lived in a small house at Islandmacallion, and often visited Ballycastle.
Jamie was a full time fiddler, playing at fairs and in people's houses.
He was married, and his wife bred Pomeranians as a source of income.
Jamie also gave Fiddle lessonsin his home, but this wasn't easy, with the barking of the dogs!

The couple had no children.
Jamie is recalled as a well dressed man, who was hard to understand, given his accent.
A photo of Jamie appears in "Irish Traditional Music" p 55.
He is shown playing in Ann Street, Ballycastle, 1904.
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Johnny Crawford (Senior)
Johnny lived at the Brig-End, on the Bushmills line, and was a well known fiddler, who also made a number of fiddles.
Johnny gave fiddle lessons, and the late Frank McCollam received his first lessons from Johnny.
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Frank Simpson
Frank was a Mosside postman, a former soldier, and a keen angler.
Frank regularly played the fiddle in the Laydside Tavern, Mosside, and his favoured music on the Fiddle was Country and Western music. It was also fascinating to learn that 'Essie’s' was a popular place for folk to hear music and Scots and Irish Ballads being sung around the open fire.
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Jack McDuff
Jack was a native of Ballymoney and worked as a fireman on the Narrow Guage, but retired in June 1950, when the line closed.
He lived on Rathlin Road and was a good fiddler, who is believed to have composed some tunes.
He was also a gifted craftsman who could make a dresser and repair boots.
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Barry Limerick
Barry was a driver on the Narrow Guage line and lived in Ballycastle for about five years.
When the line closed in June 1950, Barry transferred to the main line.
He was a noted fiddler and gave lessons on the instrument.
Three of his pupils were Dominic McNabb, Mary & Annie Clarke.

The Clarkes had a bar in Anne Street, O'Connors.
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Dan Blue
Dan lived at Gortconny, before he emigrated to America, possibly Chicago.
Before leaving, he sold his fiddle to Dan Wilkinson.
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Dan Wilkinson
Dan was a Ballintoy fiddler, who is said to have played the instrument behind his back on occasion.
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Pat Gillan
Pat had a small holding at Lem-nagh. It was a good ceilidh house.
His nephew, Pat McMullan has his fiddle.
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Johnny McAleese
Johnny was a traditional singer and fiddler, who used to accompany a Melodeon player at the cross road dances at Croagh in the 1920's.
Johnny was a thatcher who worked for some time in the gas works at Port Glasgow, before returning home.
The late Frank Kane, Islandranny, got many of his songs from Johnny.
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Daniel McGowan
Daniel, a fiddler from Broughgammon, was known as The Poet.
His son Daniel, also called The Poet, was also a fiddler and played at dances in Cloughcorr School.
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Alex Morgan
Alex (1877 - 1964) was born in Maghera. He was a fisherman and married May McKillen in 1910.
He was a fiddler, was the grandfather of Danny Morgan, and died, Leyland Road, Ballycastle.
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Willie Morgan
Willie was born in 1900, in Port Glasgow, and his parents returned to Magheracastle, about three years later.
Willie was a fiddler who played at dances in Cloughcorr School.
He emigrated to Los Angeles.
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Willie McGill
Willie, of Prolusk, died at the age of 32 (C 1912) after a botched appendix opperation, in an American hospital.
He was a well known fiddler, who had been home on holidays just 6 months previously.
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Willie Weir
Willie stayed at Tenaghs, Glenshesk, where he died unmarried.
Willie was a fiddler and a singer, who could imitate bird song.
He was also a good actor who acted in a number of local productions.
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Randal McDonnell
Randal was a brother of Jamie McDonnell the contractor.
He used to perform at dances held in Greenans School, Glenshesk.
He played the pipes, melodeon, fiddle and mouth organ.
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Cassie McHenry
Cassie, and her brother Mick McHenry who played the accordion, lived at Torr.
They used to play at the dances on the night of the Torr Regatta, which ceased in the early 1930's.
Lawrence McHenry is a nephew.
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Johnny McAfee
Johnny was an Armoy fiddler, who used to play in Fisher's Pub in Castle Street, now B. Curry's.
Johnny used to play "The Cargan Lammas Fair".
One night, a drunk who was critical of his playing, took the fiddle from him and smashed it.

You can see a photo of John McAfee fiddling at the 'Dervock Fair' on page xxxiii of Sam Henry’s 'Songs of the People'.
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Andy McGoogan
Andy lived at the old Coastguard Station in Ballintoy.
He worked a small quarry and burned Lime at Ballintoy for a period.
He was a fiddler who also made fiddles, and was a native of the Ballyclagh area.
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Dan Morgan
Dan (1892 - 1947), who was born at Magheraboy, later farmed at Knockagarvan.
He was a fiddler who died single at the Fall Farm and was buried in Ballycastle.
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Bob Morgan
Bob was a brother of the 'Rascal Magee', and lived at Goukstown, Drumnagessan.
He used to play the fiddle at fairs in Ballycastle, and may also have played the accordion.
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Sam McFarlane
Sam was a Ballinlea shoemaker who lived at Straid for a time, but moved back to Ballinlea after he got married.
He was a fiddler and also gave lessons.
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John   ?
John was a keen fiddler who played at many country dances in his younger days.
He died at Ann Street, Ballycastle, in April 1962, aged 81. {Can anyone remember his surname}
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I got this photo from local historian & collector of artefacts & curios, Danny Morgan. Danny is, like myself, very keen to learn anything he can about this man. So far Danny knows his nickname was 'The Carver' - anyone know why? He also knows that he was a Glenshesk man, & that this particular photo was taken in the 1930's.
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This character is pictured at the first Feis na Gleann in 1904, and is believed to be the winner of the set of O'Mealy Uilleann Pipes, which was one of the amazing prizes that year.

Thanks to the Coleraine Chronicle for the use of this photograph.

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Other Fiddlers of the area, for whom I have no details:

Henry Glass ~ Ballintoy
Mathew Johnston ~ Ballintoy
Simon Donnelly ~ Ballintoy
Daniel Orr ~ Ballintoy
Felix Lynn ~ Ballinlea

Charlie McLaughlin ~ Ballycastle (late C19th)
Peter Dallat ~ Ballycastle
Ned Dornan ~ Greenans
Hugh McSheaffery ~ Dervock or Novally
Adam Elliott ~ Kilraughts


North Antrim Fiddlers mentioned in Sam Henry’s ‘Songs of the People’ include:

Mathew Quinn ~ Ballymoney
James Wilkinson ~ Dunseverick
Michael McBride ~ Ballycastle
Sam Dunlop ~ Bushmills

John Elliot ~ Bushmills
James Kealey ~ Ballymoney {A great friend of Sean McLaughlin}

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