Micho Russell

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Micho Russell (25 March 1915 – 19 February 1994) was an Irish musician and author best known for his expert tin whistle performance. He also played the simple-system flute and was a collector of traditional music and folklore.


Russell was born in Doonagore, Doolin, County Clare, Ireland.[1] Russell came from a musically renowned family, his mother played the concertina,[2] and his father was a sean-nós singer.[1] He had two brothers, Packie and Gussie, who were also musicians. He also had two sisters.[2] He never married.


Russell taught himself to play the tin whistle by ear starting at age eleven. The 1960s revival of Irish traditional music brought him attention and performance opportunities. In 1973, Russell won the All-Ireland tin whistle competition,[3] which further increased demand for his performances.[1] Like Séamus Ennis, Russell was also known for his spoken introductions to tunes in his live performances, which incorporated folklore and legend. His knowledge of tradition extended past music to language, stories, dance, herbal lore, and old country cures.[4]


Russell died in a car accident on 19 February 1994 on his way home from a gig just prior to going back into the studio to record another CD.[3]


Original music[edit]

"Micho Russell's Reel," his only known composition, is a variant of an older tune he called "Carthy's Reel." He told Charlie Piggott, "...So Carthy was beyond anyway and he heard the old tune from a piper playing it and he had the first part but only three-quarters of the second part. So when Séamus Ennis came around collecting music, I put in the last bit. That's roughly the story of the tune."[4] The reel has been recorded by other artists such as Mary Bergin. His best-known songs were John Phillip Holland and The Well of Spring Water.[5]


Micho Russell performs on the following recordings
Year Artist Title Label Notes
1975 Micho, Pakie and Gusie Russell The Russell Family of Doolin, Co. Clare Topic Records Recorded in O'Connor's Bar, Doolin January 1974.
1976 Micho Russell Traditional Country Music of Co. Clare Free Reed Reissued on CD by Free Reed in 2008
1982 Micho Russell Micho Russell Triskell LP format.[6]
1990 Micho Russell Under the Cliffs of Moher Xeric
1993 Micho Russell The Limestone Rock GTD Heritage Recording Co. Ltd.
1993 Micho Russell The Man from Clare GTD Heritage Recording Co. Ltd. features duets with Eugene Lambe on Flute and Tin Whistle
1994 John Williams John Williams Green Linnet Records
1995 Micho Russell The Wind that shakes the Barley GTD Heritage Recording Co. Ltd. Features Music, Song and Folklore
1995 Micho Russell In Our Own Dear Land GTD Heritage Recording Co. Ltd. A similar mix of Music, Song and stories.
1995 Micho Russell Ireland's Whistling Ambassador The Pennywhistler's Press Includes a 28-page booklet with a biography and notes on his music. There is also a video release with different music.
2015 Micho Russell Rarities & Old Favorites 1949–1993: Tin Whistle, Flute & Songs From North Clare & Beyond The Pennywhistler's Press A double-CD with forty-nine tracks that span Micho's entire career. Includes a 16-page booklet. Released both as a download and a physical CD.


Micho Russell wrote the following books
Year Title Publisher
1980 The Piper's Chair Ossian Publications
1986 The Piper's Chair No. 2 Canal Press, N.Y.
1988 The road to Aran: Songs, Folklore and Music of West of Ireland Micho Russell, Doolin.
1990 Doolin's Micho Russell N.Y.
1991. Micho's Dozen Ennistymon Festival of Traditional Singing, Co. Clare.
1992 Music & Folklore of Doonagore Micho Russell, Doolin.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Vallely (1999), p324
  2. ^ a b Michio Russell Family Weekend biography
  3. ^ a b The Russells
  4. ^ a b Piggott
  5. ^ Vallely (1999), p. 325
  6. ^ A copy is held in the Boston College library. See: WorldCat. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  • Vallely, Fintan; Piggott, Charlie (1998). Blooming Meadows: The World of Irish Traditional Musicians. Nutan. Roberts Rinehart Publishers. pp. 178–183. ISBN 1-86059-067-5.
  • Vallely, Fintan (1999). The Companion to Irish Traditional Music. New York, NY: New York University Press. pp. 324–325. ISBN 0-8147-8802-5.

External links[edit]