The Ballinakill Céilí Band

 

 Traditional music has played a significant part in the history of Ballinakill and remains an important aspect of the parish community to this day. For many of the older generation the name Ballinakill conjures up memories of the Ballinakill Traditional Players, later known as the Ballinakil Ceili Band. It was in Carrowroe house in 1927 that a group of Irish traditional musicians got together under the guidance of the parish priest, Father Larkin, and formed the band that was to become well known both in Ireland and abroad. The founding members were Miss Anna Rafferty, Tommy Whelan, Tommy Whyte, Stephen Moloney and Jerry Moloney.

They were first engaged at the Feis Ath Luain sponsored by Custume Barracks. Then on November 1 st  1929 they made their first broadcast for 2RN, as Raidio Eireann was then known. The following summer, in July 1930, Parlophone of London recorded The Pipe on the Hob, the Queen of the Rushes, The Old Bush Reel and The Copperplate Reel. Following the unexpected success of the record sales the band make six double-sided records in November 1931. Over the next three years they participated in events throughout Galway and Limerick, and in January 1934 took part in yet another Raidio Eireann broadcast. The band took another trip to London in 1938 with two new members, Aggie Whyte and Kevin Moloney. On St. Patrick’s night they played in the Olympia Theatre, and went on to record further tunes including Sandymount Reels and Eileen Curran. A few weeks before the outbreak of the Second World War they were guests of honour at the coming-of- age celebrations for Lord Killanin at his residence outside Spiddal. By 1941-42, with record sales in the tens of thousands, the Ballinakill Ceili Band had achieved international fame.

When the original members retired, their sons and daughters were selected to perform the background music for the Ballad-Opera Story of Troy written for production by the B.B.C. The new members were Aggie and Bridie Whyte, Eddie Moloney, Jack Dervin, Jack Coughlan, Martin Grace, Tom Rourke, Jim Hogan and John Moloney. The Band underwent another change in membership and by the mid’s it consisted of Ambrose Moloney, Eva Whelan, M. B. Tierney, Liam O’Connor, Ned Mc Donnell and Brendan Hogan. Yet another combination of members (Maureen Fahy, Patsy Broderick, Bernie Shiel, Kathleen O’Halloran, Gerard Fahy, Padraic Spain, Joe & O’Halloran, Joe Larkin, Aidan Donnelly) carried off the All-Ireland trophy at Fleadh Cheoil na nEireann in Listowel. Nowadays, traditional music is as vibrant in Ballinakill as it was in the 30’s and 40’s.