0:00 - Growing up in Drimalost, Co Donegal

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Partial Transcript: I was brought up in a townland out here about four mile the other side of Donegal towards the Blue Stack mountains...

Segment Synopsis: Danny describes how growing up traditional music was a form of entertainment and he was surrounded by it. No one taught him formally; he learned by listening. His local area had many good musicians, including his own father. Certain types of tunes were prevalent: highland flings, reels, and a dance called the Sapper Swing.

Keywords: Childhood; Co Donegal; Learning music; Musicians; Tunes

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1:13 - Emigrating at age 16 and music in London

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Partial Transcript: But anyway, at about 16 I disappeared over to London. That’s where I met all the great musicians...

Segment Synopsis: Danny describes the 'magic' atmosphere of the Irish music scene and folk clubs in London in the 1960s. He met and played with some of the best of the era, including Bobby Casey, Raymond Roland, PJ Crotty, and Jimmy Power. He compares how it was then to now.

Keywords: 1950s; 1960s; Emigration; Folk clubs; London; Musicians; Sessions; Social life

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4:09 - Musicians in Drimalost, Co Donegal

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Partial Transcript: Some of the great musicians that were out in my area, they should’ve been recorded...

Segment Synopsis: Danny names some of the best musicians that he heard growing up, including Paddy McDyer, Charlie McCahill, and Peter Quinn. He says that their fiddle style was all in the 'bow expression'. Over time, he thinks traditional music has changed, it has become professionalized and that can be dangerous if it gets too disassociated from its roots.

Keywords: Co Donegal; Fiddle; Musicians

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6:15 - Music in the Meehan family and local area

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Segment Synopsis: Danny's mother played the melodeon and a bit on the fiddle and his father was a good fiddle player. He also remembers hearing a good fiddle player who was their neighbour, Charlie McCahill, when he was young. Fiddle players prevailed in Donegal, though there were a few flute and melodeon players as well.

Keywords: Co Donegal; Family; Fiddle; Melodeon; Musicians

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7:22 - Playing for local dances

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Segment Synopsis: Musicians engaged to play for special dances, such as to raise money for the local church or school, would get five shillings payment. For more informal occasions such as house dances, there would be no monetary payment, but they would get food and drink. These 'big nights' could go on very late.

Keywords: Co Donegal; Dancing; Drinking; Fiddle; House parties

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8:43 - Family and life growing up

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Segment Synopsis: Danny is one of eleven children in the family, with four brothers and six sisters. They grew up on 25 acres of land. Their father farmed and did other jobs to offset their financial difficulties.

Keywords: Childhood; Co Donegal; Family; Farming

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10:10 - Deciding to emigrate

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Partial Transcript: SG: Why did you decide to leave then? DM: Well when you’re becoming a man and you haven’t got a proper bicycle and you can’t afford a bike and there was no money. I didn’t have to go...

Segment Synopsis: Danny describes his reasons for deciding to leave Ireland at age 16 in 1957

Keywords: Emigration; London

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11:12 - Going to Selby, Yorkshire and the life of a transient worker

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Segment Synopsis: Danny arrived in Selby in August 1957. He worked initially laying electric cables in the Yorkshire Dales and traveled from place to place for different jobs for the next few years. He describes the characteristics of Irish migrant workers he encountered.

Keywords: Irish in Britain; Migration; Work

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13:45 - Musicians and concerts in London

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Segment Synopsis: Danny describes meeting the fiddle player Sean McGuire. He also played with and worked for folk singer and songwriter Ralph McTell. He recorded two albums with the band Le Chéile in the 1970s.

Keywords: Concerts; Folk clubs; London; Musicians; Recordings

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17:32 - Playing for dances

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Segment Synopsis: Danny talks about the difficulties of playing music for dancers. He describes the shock of being awarded the TG4 Gradam Ceoil (Traditional Musician of the Year award) in 2012 and the awards ceremony in Limerick.

Keywords: Concerts; Dancing

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19:18 - Musical influences

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Segment Synopsis: Danny and his contemporaries were influenced by the recordings of Sligo fiddlers Michael Coleman, James Morrison, and Paddy Killoran. The 78s they made in New York made their way back to rural Donegal. Local musicians were also significant, including John James Conaghan from Mountcharles.

Keywords: Learning music; Musicians; Recordings

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20:00 - Comhaltas and London musicians

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Segment Synopsis: Danny has reservations about Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann's role in traditional music and says that he and his contemporaries played music because they loved it and grew up with it. He mentions one London Irish pub, The Balloon, which was run by Kerryman and fiddler Con Curtin.

Keywords: Learning music; Musicians; Pubs; Social life

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21:27 - Donegal fiddler John Doherty

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Segment Synopsis: Danny met traveling fiddle player John Doherty at age 12 and describes that encounter and how it has stayed with him over the years. He outlines his views of the most important elements of traditional music.

Keywords: Co Donegal; Fiddle; Learning music; Musicians

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23:56 - Irish pubs and audiences in London

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Segment Synopsis: Danny describes the 'fantastic' crowds that came to listen to Irish music in London pubs and the 'electric' atmosphere they created. He also played in folk clubs and mentions singer Dolores Keane and others. He compares the Irish music scene in London favourably to Dublin in the 1950s and 1960s.

Keywords: Audiences; Dublin; London; Musicians; Pubs; Sessions

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26:28 - Returning to Donegal

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Segment Synopsis: Danny describes his reasons for returning to Ireland in 2007 and buying a house to live in. He still goes out to play at sessions and concerts.

Keywords: Co Donegal; Return migration

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29:45 - Living in London in the 1960s

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Partial Transcript: The London scene was fantastic. You were living there and you’d be relaxed and you had your week’s work done and plenty of sterling in your pocket...

Segment Synopsis: Danny re-iterates his general impressions of life in London in the 1960s and all that it offered a young Irish person.

Keywords: London; Pubs; Social life

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30:33 - Family migration and audiences for traditional music

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Segment Synopsis: All except one of Danny's 10 siblings emigrated and some returned to Ireland. He speaks about the importance of audiences in creating a good atmosphere for traditional music. He describes how the fortunes of Irish music have changed over time.

Keywords: Audiences; Family; Folk clubs; Migration; Pubs

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32:59 - Grandparents Peter Meehan and Susie McGroarty

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Segment Synopsis: Danny tells a story about his grandparents. His grandfather, Peter Meehan emigrated to Pennsylvania in the late nineteenth century, where he worked as a miner and in other jobs. He returned and married Susie McGroarty from Drumkeelin. She was very musical and would lilt tunes that she had learned from local musicians the Doherty's, McConnells, and John Mhósaí McGinley.

Keywords: America; Co Donegal; Family; Migration; Return migration

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36:46 - Reflections

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Partial Transcript: I could never leave the music behind. It always caught up with me. For weeks and weeks you’d be busy working, but Friday evening would come and you’d think, I’ve got to go to hear a tune. It’s hard to shake it...

Segment Synopsis: Danny reflects on the importance of music to his life. He talks about the location where we sat for the interview, beside the River Eske. He recalls visits back to Ireland when he still lived in London and other musicians. He speaks about his own role as a tradition bearer and keeping the music alive: 'I'm only the catalyst really'.

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