Streaming Audio: James W. Smith Irish Music Recordings, Reel 47

From Burns Library’s Irish Music Archives, we are excited to share music performed in the 1960s by members of the New State Ceili Band. The group’s name derived from being the resident band at Bill Fuller’s New State Ballroom at 217 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Music by the band can be heard on the audio clips from reel 47 of the James W. Smith collection. Smith’s box label lists band members Paddy Cronin, Eamon Flynn, Mike McHale, Frank Neylon, Des Regan, and George Shanley. Another regular band member, Sean McGlynn, may also have been one of the performers on the tape. The melody players are joined by guest pianist Mary Irwin; Eddie Irwin may have been another guest piano player. In addition to the full band, the tape includes members’ solos and duets, with piano accompaniment throughout.

Smith's reel tape boxes
Boxes of open reel tapes in the Smith collection (photo by Shelley Barber)

This post presents digital audio content from reel 47 of the Smith collection in seven audio clips. The open-reel audiotapes in the collection James W. Smith Irish Music Recordings primarily feature live instrumental music and song from the Boston area. Also included in the collection are dubs of published 78-rpm discs.

Smith’s labels on the reels and reel boxes were the initial source of performer information. Additional insights are based on the library’s listening work as well as on input from longtime faculty colleague and fiddle player Séamus Connolly.

Audio clips from the Smith collection, reel 47

Reel 47, clip 1 (00:00 to 27:27)

  • New State Ceili Band: reels, jigs, and marches

Reel 47, clip 2 (27:27 to 28:58)

  • Paddy Cronin, fiddle and Mary Irwin, piano: “Pigeon on the Gate” (reel)

Reel 47, clip 3 (28:58 to 30:52)

  • Probably Mike McHale, flute, Frank Neylon, flute, and Mary Irwin, piano: “Rattigan’s” (aka “Larry Redican’s”) (reel)

Reel 47, clip 4 (30:52 to 33:21)

  • Des Regan or Eamon Flynn, accordion and probably Mary Irwin, piano: “Mulhaire’s #9” composed by Martin Mulhaire (aka “The Rising Sun”) and “The House on the Hill” composed by Martin Mulhaire (aka “Seamus Thompson’s”) (reels)

Reel 47, clip 5 (33:21 to 36:20)

  • New State Ceili Band: “The Ash Grove” and “The Gentle Maiden” (waltzes)

Reel 47, clip 6 (36:20 to 38:54)

  • New State Ceili Band: “Paddy Kelly’s” and “King of the Clans” (reels)

Reel 47, clip 7 (38:54 to 43:00)

  • Paddy Cronin, fiddle and Mary Irwin, piano: “Pretty Peg,” “Pigeon on the Gate” and “Lord Gordon” (reels)

About the James W. Smith Collection

Each audio clip in this blog post is from audio file 99425_0003, James W. Smith Irish Music Recordings, IM.M016.1991, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The seven audio clips above represent reel 47 from beginning to end. The side is 43 minutes and 43 seconds long and contains unpublished music. Listeners may notice anomalies that originated on the tape: abrupt beginnings and endings, variation in sound quality and volume, and tempo/pitch alterations.

A native of Boston, James W. Smith (1929-1990) was the eldest child of Maitland Smith of Boston and Mary Monica (McDonagh) Smith of County Galway. They married in 1928 and settled in the Allston area of Boston. In the late 1950s and early 1960s James often hosted and recorded informal gatherings of Irish traditional musicians in the family home on Bayard Street. He occasionally played accordion and piano and his personal friends included flute player Gene Frain of Watertown. Smith’s collection of open-reel tapes was donated to Burns Library’s Irish Music Archives by his sister, Mary Smith Duffy. Boston College Libraries digitized and described the collection as part of a 2018 Recordings at Risk digitization grant project.

As we continue to learn about the Smith collection we are grateful for input received from musicians Séamus Connolly, Tommy Sheridan, Mike McHale, Eamon Flynn, and Colin Kadis. Further details about the collection can be viewed by downloading the collection’s finding aid and viewing the latest blog posts from the Smith collection. If you have questions, comments, or additional information to share with us, we invite you to contact the Library.

Elizabeth Sweeney, Irish Music Librarian, Burns Library

Sources Consulted

“Eamon Flynn — Hall of Fame 2005.” CCÉ Northeast Regional Hall of Fame. Accessed January 25, 2021.

Gedutis, Susan. See You at the Hall. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004.

Henrik Norbek’s ABC Tunes.

“Mary Irwin — Hall of Fame 2007.” CCÉ Northeast Regional Hall of Fame. Accessed January 25, 2021.

“Mike McHale.” Mid-Atlantic CCÉ Hall of Fame. Accessed January 25, 2021.

“Sean McGlynn.” Mid-Atlantic CCÉ Hall of Fame. Accessed January 25, 2021.

The Session.

Related Collections

Joe Lamont Irish Music Recordings

Muise Family Collection of Cape Breton and Irish Music

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