The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #123589   Message #2722604
Posted By: Matthew Edwards
12-Sep-09 - 07:22 PM
Thread Name: Shaun O'Nolan, the Wicklow Piper
Subject: Shaun O'Nolan, the Wicklow Piper
Shaun O'Nolan (1871-1941), also known as John J Nolan, was a Wicklow piper and singer who recorded a number of 78rpm records for Columbia on their 33000F Irish series in the 1920's and 30's, and also on Regal. A few of his pipe tunes are available for listening on the Internet Archive which display a quite distinctive style.

Gilda Ray Hornpipe (pipe solo)
Going to Mass Last Sunday/ Bold Jack Donahue (acc. piano)
Reels - The Cuckoo's Nest/ The Tailor's Thimble (acc. piano)
The Fisherman's Widow (pipe solo)
Jigs - The Fisherman's Widow/ The Walls of Liscara (acc. piano)
The Gilda Ray/ Shake It Up Shannahan (acc. piano)

The sound quality on some of the above is sometimes a bit uneven, but all the same many thanks to whoever is responsible for making them available. I feel the pipe solos are more exciting to listen to, and I feel a bit sorry for the poor pianist who is left trailing in O'Nolan's wake on 'The Cuckoo's Nest' and has to scurry along to catch up!

Shaun O'Nolan also sang as a tenor for a living more in the vaudeville or variety style, and was quite popular in his day but he seems to be almost completely forgotten today. His recording of Me Uncle Dan McCann inspired Mick Moloney to record the song, and it was also one of Frank Harte's songs.

There are also references on the internet to him as a song composer, under the name of John J Nolan, of such songs as 'Little Mickey Flanagan', 'Donovan's Jubilee', and a version of ' Cead Mile Failte'.

All of this suggests that he was man of considerable talent in a rather poorly documented era of Irish music who deserves some more attention. He seems to have straddled the line between traditional and commercial music and somehow he has been lost to memory.

Matthew Edwards