0:01 - Childhood and musical background

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry starts the interview by telling his story in his own words. His mother passed away when he was only four, so the family went through some difficult times. The locality and family were very musical, and Jerry was no exception.

Keywords: Co Clare; Learning music

Subjects:

2:57 - Leaving school and learning accordion

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry left school at age 14. Around that time he heard Joe Cooley playing the accordion and decided he wanted to play accordion too. He already played harmonica, but bought an accordion and taught himself tunes in a variety of styles and how to do accompaniment and harmonies.

Keywords: Accordion; Co Clare

Subjects:

7:02 - The Kilfenora Céilí Band

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: In the early 1950s a few musicians from Kilfenora went to the Fleadh organized by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in Athlone. They came back with the idea that they'd start a local céilí band and enter the competition at the fleadh. The Kilfenora Céilí Band, of which Jerry was a member (along with his brother PJ and sister Noreene), won the All-Ireland title in 1954, 1955, and 1956.

Keywords: 1950s; Ceili bands; Co Clare

Subjects:

15:10 - Migration to New York in 1959 and dance halls

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry migrated to New York City in 1959. Not long after he arrived the Red Mill dance hall opened and he started playing there, a position he held for ten years. At first, he found the music scene in New York difficult to get used to, but he settled in eventually.

Keywords: Dance Halls; Emigration; New York

Subjects:

18:52 - Return migration, re-migration, and work

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry and his family first returned to Clare in 1977, but realizing he didn't have enough savings for retirement, he returned to New York in 1989 for five years. He had worked in tunnels there and was able to resume his job because he had paid his union dues in the intervening years. After an illness, he retired to Ireland in 1994.

Keywords: Migration; Return migration; Work

Subjects:

23:26 - Learning music by ear

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry picked up music by ear, but he regretted never learning to read music. He discusses how his daughter Tara learned as well and the ability to play harmonies.

Keywords: Co Clare; Learning music

Subjects:

28:52 - Records and radio

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: As well as local musicians, Jerry picked up a lot of tunes from records and the radio, which introduced him to a wider variety of musical genres. He particularly liked Scottish music and country and western.

Keywords: Learning music; Radio; Recordings

Subjects:

31:20 - Dance tunes

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry plays a mix of musical genres and types of dance tunes, which he feels is an advantage when appealing to an audience. He says that many musicians today don't have the same variety.

Keywords: Music; Tunes

Subjects:

36:06 - Traveling with the Kilfenora Céilí Band

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry talks about how the Kilfenora Céilí Band would travel around the country in the 1950s.

Keywords: Ceili band

Subjects:

38:35 - Emigration

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry only left the Kilfenora band when he emigrated in 1959. He had a number of reasons: his father had died, he had gotten married, and his wife Elizabeth (Betty) had been in New York and wanted to return. Of their families, Jerry's brother remained in Ireland, his three sisters went to England, and most of Betty's siblings went to the US as well.

Keywords: 1950s; Emigration; New York

Subjects:

41:56 - Getting used to life in New York

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: At first, Jerry had difficulty getting used to life in New York and had trouble finding a job. He enjoyed playing in the dance halls, though the long hours got to be a challenge when he was working. He names a few of the city's dance halls in the 1960s.

Keywords: 1960s; Dance halls; New York; Social life; Work

Subjects:

46:42 - Dance halls and transition to music in pubs

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry says the dance hall patrons were predominantly Irish (though it's not clear if this means first-generation migrants or Irish-American or both). The dance halls gradually faded over the years and music started up in pubs instead. He says he would never have played music as a full-time job, but he enjoyed it.

Keywords: 1960s; Dance halls; New York; Pubs

Subjects:

50:23 - Tunnel workers in New York

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry worked in tunnels and belonged to union Local 147 (the sandhogs). They were a diverse group of men, but a tight-knit and friendly even across racial divides. Jerry reflects on what he learned from his fellow workers and how it changed his views.

Keywords: New York; Work

Subjects:

53:54 - Work in tunnels

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry worked in subway and water tunnels. He reflects on the impressive scale of the engineering projects and the foresight they demonstrate.

Keywords: New York; Work

Subjects:

59:18 - Visiting Ireland over the years

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry visited Ireland every few years while he lived in the US. He discusses how he has seen the country, and particularly Co. Clare, change since his youth. He believes the most important work-related change is automation.

Keywords: Change; Ireland

Subjects:

65:25 - Automation and changes in tunnel work in New York

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry discusses how his job, tunnel work, has changed in New York because of improvements in technology and the differences from when he first started.

Keywords: Change; New York; Work

Subjects:

70:36 - Rural electrification in Ireland

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry's home got electricity in 1957. He describes what life was like before that: candles, paraffin lamps, tilley lamps, and charging the wet battery for the radio.

Keywords: Change; Co Clare; Ireland

Subjects:

74:55 - The Burren, north Clare

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry talks about the landscape of the Burren in north Clare, very near where he lives. He discusses how academics discovered the landscape and the influx of tourists that followed.

Keywords: Co Clare

Subjects:

78:47 - Changes in traditional music

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry discusses how traditional music has changed since his youth and how the way that kids learn music has changed. He speaks with pride about current local musicians and music teachers.

Keywords: Change; Learning music; Music

Subjects:

83:09 - Changes in local education and social life

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry discusses how education has improved over the years and the value of music and sport of keeping kids on the right track. He says in his youth kids would be very shy, partly because of the education system, but things are different now.

Keywords: Change; Co Clare; Education; Ireland; Social life

Subjects:

88:07 - Final reflections: the transformation of Ireland

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis: Jerry finishes by reflecting on the transformation of Ireland and of people's lives over the last several decades.

Keywords: Change; Ireland

Subjects:

Search This Index
SearchClear