Traditional Music and Song

july, 2022

tue19jul6:30 pmProfessor Michael O'MalleyIrish Traditional Music Archive, Merrion Square, Dublin 26:30 pm Lecture on Chief O'Neill

Event Details

Michael O’Malley will reflect on the legacy of Chief Francis O’Neill in an illustrated lecture entitled ‘Collecting and Community: Irish Music and the Authority of the Badge.’ Among the musicians on hand to provide illustrations will be uilleann piper, Mick O’Brien, who will perform tunes from the repertoires of Patsy Touhey and Barney Delaney; Caoilfhionn and Sorcha Ní Scolaí playing music from the O’Neill collection; and Liam O’Connor performing music from the repertoires of Edward Cronin and James O’Neill.

Michael O’Malley is Professor of US history at George Mason University in Virginia, USA. He is the author of Keeping Watch: A History of American Time and Face Value: The Entwined History of Race and Money in America as well as his most recent publication: The Beat Cop: Chicago’s Chief O’Neill and the Creation of Irish Music. The Beat Cop is the remarkable story of how modern Irish music was shaped and spread through the brash efforts of a Chicago police chief.  Francis O’Neill was a larger-than-life Chicago police chief and an Irish immigrant with a fervent interest in his home country’s traditional music.

Born in Ireland in 1865, he emigrated to the United States where, having survived a rough-and-tumble early life there, by 1901 he had worked his way up to become Chicago’s chief of police.  In this role, he developed new methods of tracking criminals and recording their identities. At the same time, he also obsessively tracked and recorded the music he heard from local Irish immigrants, enforcing a strict view of what he felt was and wasn’t authentic. Chief O’Neill’s police work and his musical work were flip sides of the same coin, and O’Malley delves deep into how this brash immigrant harnessed his connections and policing skills to become the foremost shaper of how Americans see and hear the music of Ireland.

The talk begins at 6:30pm. Admission is free. Copies of Beat Cop will be on sale on the night for €25. It is also available from the ITMA shop.


(Tuesday) 6:30 pm


Irish Traditional Music Archive

Merrion Square, Dublin 2

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