All posts by Jim

Joe Ryan

Joe Ryan fiddle

Joe Ryan was born and reared in Inagh Co Clare and died in March 2008. Despite being steeped in the fiddle music of his native Co Clare, Joe spent much of his life in the Drogheda area, living with his brother Jim in Cooperhill, Julianstown on his return from working in England in 1962.

Joe left his native Clare in 1951 to seek work in Dublin and worked in the building trade until a bad economic slump in 1953 forced Joe and his fellow-tradesmen seek work in London.

Joe’s three major recordings are

Joe & Eddie

Joe Ryan (fiddle)  and Eddie Clarke (harmonica) ; Crossroads : 1981 . This is a magnificent recording  of two great musicians at the height of their powers. Their duets are stunning, so close is their playing that it is hard to distinguish between the fiddle and the harmonica. This recording was issued by Green Linnet on L.P. and Cassette.

dereoite 1

An Buachaill Dreoite – Reels, Jigs, Marches , Waltzes, Set Dances, Airs, Flings and Mazurkas from the legendary Clare Fiddler.

Recorded by Harry Bradshaw in the back lounge of McHugh’s Pub, Chord Road, Drogheda in 1994 and issued by Clo-Iar-Chonnachta.

Clo Iar-Chonnachta 1995 – CICD113


Two Genetleman of Clare Music – Gerdy Commane and Joe Ryan – Custy’s Music .

Recorded in Gerdy Commane’s house in Kilnamona by John O’Connor in 1999.

Old Timey Music

My interest on Old-Timey Music sprung from hearing Woody Guthrie show how to tell a story in song, …. and meeting the late Brian Leahy in Jemmy Winters’ pub in Newfoundwell. Brian was getting a few bob for playing the guitar, and a nice big Harmony it was. As we started to develop our interest in the music we gravitated eventually to Carberry’s Pub in the North Strand. At the time the pub was an early house and rings was the game of choice. Caitlin, being a musician herself and steeped in her own music and culture welcomed us in with open arms. We used to congregate up near the mirror away from the rings board, and when Caitlin had the house cleared at closing time, we would be invited into the Kitchen to play and listen to music for as long as we wanted to. Caitlin would listen ot our music and play some of her collection of LPs. One particular LP in which we rapidly developed an interest was a Mike Seeger album, issued in 1962 titled ‘Old Time Country Music.

Mike Seeger

On this album we heard for the first time the guitar and autoharp sound of the Carter Family, the slide guitar style of Frank Hutchinson and Seeger’s adaptations of classic ballads like ‘Lord Thomas and Fair  Ellender’ . On this LP Seeger captured the essence of Old-Timey Music. Coincidently,  the Watery Hill Boys have recently recorded ‘Oh My Little Darlin’ from Seeger’s LP  for release on their new Album , due for release in summer 2013.

Anyway, back to the sixties… we developed our playing and harmonising and started playing around Dublin venues like Slattery’s in Capel Street under the name of Ragged but Right  and in 1970 were asked to make a recording for the CMB label.


And this was it…………..on the ‘A’ side a Carter family song ‘You Are My Flower‘ and on the ‘B’ side ‘Ragged but Right‘ learnt from a Greenbriar Boys recording. On this momentous recording were Jim MacArdle , guitar autoharp and vocals,Brian Leahy, guitar mandolin and vocals and not forgetting Gerry Cullen vocals. After achieving some good airplay on RTE, the record sank without trace, but here it is….

We formed The Watery Hill Boys in 2011 and recorded our first CD in 2012. We have toured extensively across Ireland and Europe, and are currently (May 2013) recording our second album.  The Watery Hill Boys are Donal Og Black,Neil Conlan and Jim MacArdle.

Visit for more!

Madam I’d like to be Tossin’ your Hay


Traditional Music and Song from Mid and South Louth

Jim MacArdle, Eilis Quinn and Mick Dunne

This album is a collection of old-time songs and dance tunes from rural County Louth, many of which are seeing the light of day here for the first time. The music is played on Concertina, Accordeon and Banjo by Jim MacArdle, Eilis Quinn and Mick Dunne. Most of these tunes spring from the concertina playing of Mary Ann Carolan and her father Pat, from Tenure, outside Drogheda, and the fiddle playing of brothers Peter and Tommy McArdle from Tallanstown. The songs were collected all over Mid and South County Louth.

Jim MacArdle is a well known musician in the Drogheda area and for many years he played with the late Joe Ryan, the noted Clare Fiddler, who resided outside Drogheda for many years. Like any musician in the Drogheda area with an interest in tradition and culture, Jim gravitated to Carberry’s Pub in the North Strand where the welcome and hospitality received from Bean-a-Ti Caitlin Ni Chairbre set the tone for a musical education in the company of such stalwarts as Wally Murphy, Gerry Cullen (who adds some harmony vocals to the album) and the late Brian Leahy. Caitlin hailed from the Hill of Rath, not far from where Mary Ann Carolan settled after she married, and for a time played piano in a Ceili Band which featured Pap Usher, Mary Ann’s brother on fiddle.

Through Caitlin’s generosity and enthusiasm for all things musical, those who frequented the pub had a musical education second to none. Her musical tastes were catholic (in the best sense of the word) and she encouraged exploration of many musical avenues and cultural diversity. Above all, Caitlin, being a musician herself, understood musicians. This album was conceived, blathered-about and prepared in Carberry’s sessions and although the Pub itself was closed for a while, it has now reopened and is the same as it ever was.



Old music for the present time, a real find and great fun: unusual set-dance tunes and comical songs from the country kitchens of Co Louth a hundred and more years ago – at the same time exciting and comfortable, fresh and authentic, good-humoured and stylishly played. Will be big from Togher to Ganderstown, from Monasterboice to the Hill of Rath.

Nicholas Carolan, Irish Traditional Music Archive


Madam, I’d Like To Be Tossin’ Your Hay

LLM024, 17 Tracks

In the 1970’s, the Louth musician, Jim MacArdle spent many hours in the company of fellow concertina player, Mary Ann Carolan. The concertina tradition of Louth was little known then, Mary Ann’s father, Pat Usher had been recorded by RTE in 1962 when he was 93 years old, he played the German concertina, a two row instrument set up in C/G, he had a store of tunes that were ideal for the local set dances and he passed these down to his daughter.

MacArdle, Quinn and Dunne are steeped in those traditions, the trio come from a tight geographical area bounded by Laytown and Drogheda and this album is an homage to their musical home place and their mentors of the 1970’s and 1980’s. No mention of this part of the country would be complete without a respect to Carberry’s pub in Drogheda, a music pub for 150 years and still in the family, the cover shot shows the trio having a few tunes in the bar.

Those tunes are indeed unusual, this is music that comes from a dance tradition not dominated by reels and jigs, as such it is both surprising and refreshing. Sometimes the tunes are rather English in character (especially on the Polkas which begin with Mary Ann Carolan’s, The Lass of Gowrie) but we should temper that thought by noting that the quadrilles and flings were dances popular on both sides of the Celtic Sea in 1900.

The songs are good also, T Stands for Tommy, I Suppose is a local variant of P Stands for Paddy and is here given a relaxed treatment with clear tenor vocals making every word ring out. This is followed by a slow paced set called Peter McArdles, the notes for which are sadly incomplete in the liner. Another fine song is about an errant Welsh woman The Laff and Half Daft, which sounds as if it began on the music hall stage as the Lass of Llandaf. Then there is a remnant from blackfaced minstrelsy, Young Bob Ridley a jaunty song in the musical vein of the more famous Old Dan Tucker.

The final track, on autoharp and button box, A Tune for Joe, a tribute air to the late Joe Ryan, deserves to be played everywhere. It would be a lovely bookend to any pub’s late session and I’m sure it is a firm favourite in Carberry’s.

This is a lovely album, full of hard to forget melodies, many set in the rounded key of C, from a corner of the country and a country pub where the local tradition is still cherished.

Seán Laffey


The album can be obtained by contacting . It costs €10 and will be posted anywhere free.

# 1 -mainly sports


Well, here we are, with the important issues of the day to be discussed on an almost regular basis. Startin’ with last Friday above in Dalyier.. not an entirely welcoming venue for the mighty Drogs over the last few years , but this time we stuck at it right from the kick off and it was great to see Quigley getting the opener after only 4 minutes with a good goal. He has been unlucky with injuries this season and took his chance well. Another player who deserves plenty of credit is Philly Hand, who has come into the team recently after warming the bench for almost half the season and yet comes up with a great performances when required. It has been a curious season so far for the Drogs with a number of unexpected losses and unexplicable defending at times, those 3-2 losses, but as Tommy useta say ‘ that’s fupall’.  So, the Drogs gave us a great start and the best other result  for me over the weekend was the Clare hurlers’ win over’s the Davie Fitz factor.. I think, a first championship win in 8 years. I’m sure Joe was in some way below in Thurles for the occasion, he would have gone the usual route…park car at the El Molino, bus to Busaras, luas to Kingsbridge and train to Thurles and a bit of dinner in a nice bar before the match.

Annyway, I’ve been really busy since last Sunda week, up at 9.30 sharp every mornin and get stuck into Roland Garros on ITV 4. This year, as ever, the standard of tennis has been great, and an added bonus this year has been Murray’s injury , which has stopped the Brits droning on and on about him. Tennis on clay is in my view the true test of a player, there’s nothin’ like seein’ two players givin’ it Tullyallen from each end of the court and 30 shot rallies. Tsonga fairly demolished Roger in 3 straight sets today and I’m sure the great man will start sliding down the rankings now after many years at the top… don’t like his logo though…….its a bit gay to me… As I sit here now, with Federer out, the bottom half of the draw looks lopsided. In the top half Djokovick will probably beat Nadal and hopefully meet Tsonga in the final a’Sunda.

The Drogs, of course will be travellin’ abroad for the Europa League this year following last season’s great performances. Those of us who have been on European trips with the Drogs before will be lookin’ forward to some good football and a few jugs in foreign climes below in the town square before the match and havin’ more jugs after the match…and… me memory’s a bit unclear, but I remember Paddy Martin singin’ in the grotto in San marino…..the rest is a bit hazy…. the match in Kiev….more of the same please.