Ceol na hÉireann / Irish Music, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 24

Ceol na hÉireann / Irish Music, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 24
Favourite | Share | Feedback


periodical Publisher
Na Píobairí Uilleann
periodical Editor
Chairman, NPU
periodical Title
Ceol na hÉireann / Irish Music
volume Number
issue Content
38Ceol na hEireann I Irish Music39annoyed with him because he was taking the livelihood from them, they weredoing great. But it ended there, he dropped it for good, hed never look at theballroom music again, and he went back to playing the pipes again.James OMahoney was visiting Liam one day. He sat down listening to me,and I played for him, half an hour, as I was kind of a novice to piping at thetime. He was delighted to see that somebody was playing in the style of LiamWalsh.This was well in the forties, he was still playing himself then. They werevery close pals, and they seemed to manage very well together. And Liamthought the world of James OMahoney, he thought he was a grand fiddleplayer,and he was a grand man. It seems they made their Winner recordings inLondon, they didnt have that kind of equipment in Ireland at the time. Theywere young men then, both of them.Liam was telling me that he went to England, to HMV. And the HMV peoplemade a contract with him, solo, he was going to play solo. He made a contractwith them for three years, exclusively, he could record for nobody. But Liamforgot, when he got to London as he was working for HMV, he went down toParlophone, they were a company, you see, and he said hed work for them.But HMV heard all about it, and they brought him back in, and they were veryunhappy about his plans. And Liam, although he had a contract with them, hewas still in dispute with them, I think at the beginning they were going to giveroyalties to him. He said they brought in a lovely table with tea and everything,and they had a conference, and they said Now Mr Walsh, we did not bring youover here to work for Parlophone, we brought you to work for us. And thedispute went on a bit, and they said to him now look, could we settle in thisway, well give you a lumpsum, and will you desist from working for anybodyexcept us? And he said, right, Ill do that. And he worked for the three years,hed come back home, and each year hed go back for so long, and hed recordso much. Now, when the three years ended, he went back again, and hecontacted Parlophone, and he worked for Decca at the same time.Some of his Decca records were pretty good, I thought they were the best,when I heard them. He had more punch, and more relaxation. You see, he wasa highly strung man. And people can be highly strung, and they can deal withit. There is a way of dealing with all those things. But he could never deal withit. He used to get very excited, the music used to carry him away to an extent.He was inclined to race. I used to compare that with the playing he used to doat home, in his own room, when there was nothing at stake. He just sat thereand he played, naturally relaxed in that kind of atmosphere, you see, and themusic was really fantastic.He was telling me a very funny story at one time. It seems that broadcastingmust have been pretty new at that time. We had no broadcasting station, hewent to London to broadcast. The uilleann pipes were something they neversaw or knew anything about. And the engineers in London sat him down to geta test, you know. And he played... Oh!, my God!, that wont do at all! It wasblowing the place out. The next thing - they took the microphone, they took itoff the stand and they wrapped something round it , and they put it on thefloor, and he played again. No, that wouldnt do. They took it again, and theygot a rug, a big rug, you know, and they put a piece of the rug over it, and heplayed again. No, it wouldnt do. Too much... they couldnt control the volume,it seems. And they ended up by putting the microphone in the middle of therug, and they rolled and rolled and rolled the rug round it. You wonder howany sound got in there. And thats how he did the broadcast! And his wife toldme, she was in Ireland when he made the broadcast in London. And all herfriends and all his friends, they were waiting to hear the broadcast. Butevidently the signal wasnt strong enough, coming over. And they could getpieces of it, and then it would fade away into nothing. Very primitive, youknow.He said to me, when the electrical recording came in, they got better andbetter, he always claimed that that didnt give the pure sound of the uilleannpipes. He said, the sound of the recordings made with the horn was pure, theuilleann pipes lost some of its personality when it was electrically recorded.Liam Walshs wife said to me, a funny thing about the pipes when Liam did theelectrical recordings at that stage, youd never think it was uilleann pipes. Itwas a different sound that I was listening to, listening at home. Now thats howshe described it.Well, I will now tell you about the airs. He went out to Ring, thats aGaeltacht area now, they spoke nothing but Irish there. Now he was an Irishspeaker himself. He used to go out there in the summers, and at that time, inthose days, I suppose every fourth person could sing those old sean-ns songs.They had all this at them. Now he went there, and he used to sit with them, andit wouldnt take him long to learn, hed learn the words as well and hed get themusic, and hed have them on the pipes. Liam had a fantastic repertoire of airs.He didnt record enough of them. He loved that air, Banks of the Suir. Id sayif he made ten broadcasts a year, hed always include that air, no matter howoften, he would let it go only so long before he would play that again.Johnny Doran used to visit him every time he was playing the streets of
issue Number
page Number
periodical Author
issue Publication Date

Ceol na hÉireann / Irish Music, Volume 1, Issue 1

Related Keywords