From the Bridge: a view of Irish traditional music in New York – a new…
Richie Piggott’s new book, Cry of a People Gone: Irish Musicians in Chicago, 1920–2020, is to be launched by broadcaster and performer, Caoimhín Mac Aoidh, at an event in Dublin’s Teachers’ Club tonight.
The book documents the lives of Irish musicians, and significant milestones in the development of Irish music in Chicago and the srrounding area.
Beginning with a history of the development of Chicago and the reasons why it was attractive to Irish emigrants, the book offers two personal accounts of the emigration experience from Ireland; firstly, during the Great Famine of 1845-1850 and secondly, a century later during the late 1940s/early 1950s.
Piggott provides detailed biographical information on Irish musicians who settled in Chicago as well as first-generation Irish-American musicians born in Chicago. Among the musicians featured are Selena O’Neill, Frank Thornton, Tommy Cawley, Jimmy Neary, Cuz Teahan, Malachy Towie, Kevin Henry, Tom O’Malley, Joe and Séamus Cooley and Kevin Keegan.
As well as individual players, Piggott also reflects on significant milestones in the development of Irish music in Chicago including the formation of the Irish Musicians Association of America (IMA); as well as tours of Irish musicians and dancers in both Ireland and America and the first Fleadh Cheoil in Chicago (1964-1969). Two appendices feature a specific piece on accordion players in Chicago along with a previously unpublished memoir by Frank Thornton.
The book is comprehensively illustrated with hundreds of photographs, most of which were donated by the musicians’ families who were interviewed for the book. The book – which has been produced in a larger format in order to show off the photographs to best effect, is available to pre-order for €45 from https://www.richiepiggott.com/shop.html.
Originally from Cobh, Richie Piggott has lived in Chicago for over twenty years. His father, Johnny Piggott, was an accordion player from Dooks, near Glenbeigh. Co Kerry. His mother, Margaret Flannery, came from a Dingle family who were intimately involved in the town’s marching bands for many years. His brother, Charlie, was a founder-member of De Dannan and continues to perform professionally.
Though not a musician, Richie’s love of Irish music has led to a life-long collection of Irish music books and manuscripts and a deep interest in the history of traditional musicians. For the past ten years, Richie has focused on the history of the lives and music of Irish immigrants in Chicago and the surrounding area, over the past one hundred years. He has contributed several historical recordings and manuscripts to the Irish Traditional Music Archive and to Na Píobairí Uilleann.
The launch event is to feature music by brother, Charlie, on button accordion, and by Peter Browne on the pipes.