COLLECTION OF IRISH MUSIC
Musician Séamus Connolly is known around New England and in Ireland as a master fiddler, one of the great Irish musicians of his generation. The County Clare native has spent considerable time in his life playing at concert halls, music festivals, sessions and pubs around the world.
He also had an illustrious 25 year career as the Sullivan Artist-in-Residence at Boston College, where he founded and ran the successful Gaelic Roots program during that time. In addition to his rigorous performance schedule, Connolly was also a popular teacher, recording artist and composer.
Add to that resume Connolly’s diligence as a researcher and collector of thousands of traditional melodies over the decades, from Ireland to the Canadian Maritimes and French Québec and down to the Appalachians. For the past 15 years, he has been organizing this vast array of music into a project for posterity.
Connolly retired from Boston College in December 2015, and ironically that gave him the free time to bring the project to completion, with the help of Elizabeth (Beth) Sweeney, music archivist at the college’s John J. Burns Library.
This October, the college officially launched The Séamus Connolly Music Collection, an impressive selection of 330 Irish tunes and songs that include transcriptions, stories and essays about the music and the musicians themselves. The digital collection includes audio recordings of some of the best-known performers in the genre.
The digital resource is easily accessible, divided by song and tune types, playlists, and academic essays to put the music into context. In his introduction to the Collection, Connolly writes passionately about his love of music and also his unique friendships with so many musicians he has met along his journey.
He pays special tribute to the people he loved along the way who are now departed: his wife Sandy Walter, the love of his life as well as best friend, confidant and collaborator; his son Darragh, who died suddenly; and musician John McGann, who performed, recorded and shared an interest in all things music with Connolly.
What the listener takes from this opus is Connolly’s special reverence for the music, and his unique dedication to perfecting the art form in terms of performance, interpretation and artistic expression. And finally, an optimism for the merits of passing this music along to future generations. The Séamus Connolly Irish Music Collection is a unique gift to Boston College, to the Irish music community in greater Boston, and to musicians and music lovers everywhere.
by Michael P. Quinlin