Ballinakill Traditional Players

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When this ensemble cut the recordings "The Knocknagon" and "Fowling Piece" in 1931, it was something like a cannon going off in terms of the effect it would have on traditional Irish music internationally.…
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When this ensemble cut the recordings "The Knocknagon" and "Fowling Piece" in 1931, it was something like a cannon going off in terms of the effect it would have on traditional Irish music internationally. Although it was not the first recording of Irish music ever released -- that honor is generally bestowed on a duet recording featuring banjoist Eddie Hebron and his partner James Wheeler -- it was certainly one of the most successful, during a time when Dublin didn't even have a recording studio of its own and Irish traditional sides were actually being recorded in the U.S. The Ballinakill Traditional Players were formed from local musicians in the Woodford, Galway area of Ireland. It became the first Ceili band to release 78 rpm recordings, and beyond that became the model for just about every Ceili band that followed in its footsteps. The style this band played in was known for its relaxed rhythm and the melodic inventiveness of its musicians, although there are critics of the group and its style. Some felt that flute players, great as they were, would play out of tune with each other, and that the group in general was overly influenced by certain members of the Catholic church who were attempting to find a music to offer the public that might be less rowdy and "sinful" then what was currently offered in the dancehalls. The Ceili band usually performed at house parties as well as different types of dances held at local parish halls.

No one can argue the musical legacy of the band, which lives on not only through its influence on later bands and subsequent generations of players, but in a more direct manner through the family lineage of various players. A good example is flutist James Moloney, who hailed from the county of Limerick. No doubt from a musical family himself, as just about everyone born in Ireland seems to have had a tin whistle forced into the gap between their lips in between nursings, Moloney had three sons who all made names for themselves in Irish music. Ambrose Moloney was a flute player as well, Kevin Moloney played fiddle, and Eddie Moloney became the most well-known of the lot, performing on tin whistle, flute, and fiddle. Eddie began learning music from his father at the age of six. His home itself was something of a music venue, with so many different players dropping by to rehearse or simply jam. In the late '40s, Eddie brought together a new group of players who created a re-formed version of the Ballinakill Ceili Band, such as Aggie Whyte, Bridie Whyte, Jack Coughlan, Jack Dervan, Martin Grace, Jimmy Hogan, Tom Rourke, and Ned Daveney. When Irish traditional musician Seamus Ennis and American folklorist Alan Lomax created the opera The Waves of Tory, this group was chosen to provide the background music. Eddie settled in Galway in 1956, raising a family which to no one's great shock includes his son Sean Moloney, who became a master flute player, a good fiddler, and an environmental scientist. Sean and his uncle Kevin got together in 1997 to record an album of traditional flute and fiddle duets. The Moloney saga, following a quite typical Irish surname, was not the only family of musicians in this group, either. Original flutist Tommy Whelan had a breech of talented relatives, as did fiddler Aggie White.