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No Better Boy

Listening to Paddy Canny

By: Helen O’Shea

Publication Date: May 2023

25.00

No Better Boy tells the story of a master of traditional Irish music: the legendary East Clare fiddler Paddy Canny, whose haunting music was remarkable for its virtuosity and sophistication.

In the 1950s, when he was in his thirties and at the pinnacle of his career, Paddy Canny became a national radio star, played solo in Carnegie Hall, toured England with the renowned Tulla Céilí Band, and made a much-loved recording. All were extraordinary achievements for a man raised on a marginal farm, where the gramophone records that inspired him were accessible only through the good grace of neighbours. In richly evocative prose, Helen O’Shea distils stories of success and adversity that Paddy Canny told to family and friends, to radio interviewers and historians. These stories illuminate rural life in mid-twentieth-century Ireland, major social and economic changes, and the decline and revival of traditional music and dancing.

A compelling story told with passion and insight, this is a book for readers with an interest in Ireland’s social history and for music lovers everywhere.

No Better Boy includes annotated transcriptions of music played by Paddy Canny and his contemporaries, sourced from archives and personal collections as well as commercial recordings.

About the author

Helen O’Shea is the Australian author of non-fiction works about Irish traditional music, including her acclaimed book The Making of Irish Traditional Music (2008). She has also published creative non-fiction based on oral history projects in rural Australia. For most of her life, Helen has performed Irish traditional music on the fiddle, mentored by musicians from East Galway and East Clare, including Paddy Canny’s brother Jack, who migrated to Australia in the 1960s. From first hearing a recording of Paddy Canny playing with P. J. Hayes, she fell in love with his music, as so many listeners have. Her musical understanding developed during her years as a graduate student in Ireland c1980, while researching Seamus Heaney’s poetry, in extended visits to Ireland and during a year of doctoral fieldwork in East Clare in 2000. Her experience teaching and researching at universities in Ireland and Australia encompasses literature, history and music. She is currently an honorary research fellow in ethnomusicology at the University of Melbourne.

Available on backorder

Quantity
ISBN
9781843518655
Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 297 × 210 mm
Format

Paperback

Extent

192pp

Publication Date

May 2023

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