Paddy Killoran

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Paddy Killoran
Paddy Killoran, Irish fiddler in NYC.jpg
Background information
Born(1903-09-21)21 September 1903
Emlaghgissan, near Ballymote, County Sligo, Ireland
Died24 April 1965(1965-04-24) (aged 61)
New York, New York, United States
GenresIrish folk
Occupation(s)Musician, Bandleader
Years activec. 1925–1963
LabelsCrown, Decca, Dublin
Associated actsPaddy Sweeney

Patrick J. "Paddy" Killoran (1903–1965) was an Irish traditional fiddle player, bandleader and recording artist. He is regarded, along with James Morrison and Michael Coleman, as one of the finest exponents of the south Sligo fiddle style in the "golden age" of the ethnic recording industry of the 1920s and 1930s.

Early life in Ireland[edit]

Killoran was born 21 September 1903 and grew up in the townland of Emlaghgissan near Ballymote, County Sligo, Ireland.[1] His father Patrick played the flute and his mother Mary the concertina but the young Killoran was also influenced by local fiddle master Philip O'Beirne, who had earlier tutored Michael Coleman.[2] As a teenager, Killoran was a volunteer with the Ballymote-based 3rd Battalion of the south Sligo Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the war for independence.[3]

Emigration and career as danceband leader[edit]

In 1925, Killoran emigrated to New York City where he lodged with James Morrison in his Columbus Avenue apartment on Manhattan's West Side. A 1927 newspaper ad for "Morrison's Orchestra" offered "Irish music by P. Killoran and J. Morrison, celebrated violinists," giving 507 West 133d Street in west Harlem as the contact address. [4] Killoran soon launched his own career as a soloist and bandleader. A publicity photo of Killoran's quartet c. 1928 includes button accordionist D. Casey, tenor banjo player Richard Curran and second fiddler Denis Murphy. [5] By the next year, Killoran was performing on a weekly radio program sponsored by the Pride of Erin Ballrooms, located at the corner of Bedford and Atlantic Avenues in Brooklyn.

At the Pride of Erin, and later at the Sligo Ballroom at 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, Killoran's "Irish Orchestra" provided music for Irish dancing, while Jack Healy, another Ballymote native, led a group for "American" dancing.[6] Healy, as a singer and tenor sax player, also performed and recorded with Killoran's group, the membership of which over the course of the 1930s included fiddler Paddy Sweeney (another Sligo native), fiddle and clarinet player Paul Ryan, Ryan's brother Jim on the C Melody sax, pianists Eileen O'Shea, Edmund Tucker and Jim McGinn, button accordionists Tommy Flanagan and William McElligott and tenor banjo/tenor guitar player Michael "Whitey" Andrews.

Killoran's band was variously billed as his "Pride of Erin Orchestra," "Radio Dance Orchestra," "Sligo Ballroom Orchestra," "Lakes of Sligo Orchestra" and "Barn Dance Boys." The group was a popular choice for county association functions, particularly those of Sligo and Roscommon. In 1932, he led a band that accompanied Cardinal O'Connell of Boston to the Eucharistic Congress in Ireland, and briefly billed his group as the "Pride of Erin Eucharistic Congress Orchestra." [7] He would regularly perform at Irish beach resorts on the Rockaway peninsula and in East Durham in the Catskill Mountains.

Recording artist, record label founder, cabaret owner[edit]

Starting in 1931, Killoran made dozens of recordings as a soloist, in duets with Paddy Sweeney, and with various ensembles for Crown, Decca and other labels. His recording career continued into the 1950s, when he recorded EP discs with Paul Ryan and guitarist Jack McKenna, as well as some tracks with Sligo flute player Mike Flynn. Some of Killoran's recordings were later reissued on LP or CD compilations. Killoran was known as a composer of Irish dance tunes, including "The Maid of Mt. Kisco," a still-popular reel that he recorded in 1937 and named for Ann Mulligan, a friend who lived in that Westchester County surburb.[8] In 1956, he was a co-founder of the "Dublin Recording Company," later better known simply as "Dublin Records," which was organized to record new Irish discs in New York.[9]

In 1942, Killoran opened "Killoran's Tavern," a bar/restaurant at 42 West 60th Street in Manhattan, taking over a business founded by fellow musicians Jim Clark and George White. He would later operate a bar on 138th Street near Third Avenue in the Bronx.[10] He was a founding member of the Emerald Irish Musicians Benevolent Society, a group that staged "Night of Shamrocks" concerts to raise money for the benefit of sick and deceased Irish musicians in New York. Killoran was also a member of the Irish Musicians Association of America, and a New York branch of that organization (which later merged with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann) was named for him.

Personal life, reissue recordings and tributes[edit]

In addition to the 1932 trip to the Eucharistic Congress, Killoran returned to Ireland at least twice. In 1949, he played on a Radio Éireann program hosted by piper and folkorist Séamus Ennis. Some selections from that broadcast were recorded on a private disc and were later released on CD.[11] On a 1960 visit, he visited Sligo and Clare, and performed at a concert in Co. Longford.[12] Killoran was married twice. His first wife, Anna Gorman, a native of Co. Roscommon, died in 1935.[13] His second wife was Betty (Bridget) Hayes, an immigrant from Shanaway West, Co. Clare, who survived him. Paddy Killoran died in New York City on April 24, 1965.[14]

A "Paddy Killoran Traditional Festival" is celebrated in the third week of June in Ballymote, where a monument in Killoran's honor was erected in 2012.[15][16]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Barry O'Neill, liner notes to Paddy Killoran's Back in Town, Shanachie Records LP 33033, 1977
  3. ^ The Advocate, New York, May 8, 1965. The leader of the south Sligo IRA, Sinn Féin MP Alexander McCabe, took the Free State side in the subsequent Irish Civil War but most Ballymote volunteers opposed the treaty -
  4. ^ Mac Diarmada, Oisín and Gormley, Daithí, Fiddlers of Sligo, Sligo: Ceol Productions Ltd., 2017. Ad in The Advocate, New York, February 19, 1927, p. 8.
  5. ^ - according to Milwaukee Irish Fest archivist Jeff Ksiazek, the photo is on the wall of Ted McGowan's pub in Gurteen, Co. Sligo. It is also reproduced in Fiddlers of Sligo (Op. cit.)
  6. ^ many articles and ads in The Advocate, archived at
  7. ^ The Advocate, New York, April 8, 1933
  8. ^ "Maid of Mount Kisco (The)". Traditional Tune Archive. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  9. ^ The Advocate, New York, December 1, 1956. According to the Advocate, Killoran's partners were piano accordionist Paddy Noonan, singer Jim O'Neill and fiddle player Paul Ryan.
  10. ^ The Advocate, New York, September 26 and October 3, 1942. Barry O'Neill, liner notes to Paddy Killoran's Back in Town (Shanachie Records LP 33003, 1977).
  11. ^ liner notes to Milestone at the Garden: Irish Fiddle Masters from the 78 RPM Era (Rounder CD 1123, 1996. A recorded excerpt from the RTÉ program was issued on Tuning the Radio: Early traditional music recordings from the RTÉ Libraries and Archives, RTE285CD.
  12. ^ The Advocate, New York, March 5, 1960. The Longford recording has been digitized by the Irish Traditional Music Archive.
  13. ^ The Advocate, New York, January 26, 1935
  14. ^ The Advocate, New York, May 8, 1965
  15. ^
  16. ^


  • Paddy Killoran's Back in Town (Shanachie LP 33003, 1977). Included reissued Killoran solos and duets with Paddy Sweeney from 1930s 78 rpm sides. All 14 tracks from the LP were later reissued on the Coleman Music Centre CD From Ballymote to Brooklyn (CHC 007, 2002) along with most tracks from Shanachie's James Morrison LP.

Compilations that include Killoran selections:

  • Old-Country Music in a New Land (New World LP NW264, 1977).
  • From Galway to Dublin: Early Recordings of Irish Traditional Music (Rounder CD 1087, 1993).
  • Milestone at the Garden: Irish Fiddle Masters from the 78 RPM Era (Rounder CD 1123, 1996).
  • The Wheels of the World: Early Irish-American Music, vol. 1 and vol. 2 (Yazoo CD 7008, 1996 and 1997).
  • Past Masters of Irish Dance Music (Topic TSCD604, 2000).
  • Past Masters of Irish Fiddle Music (Topic TSCD605, 2001).
  • Traditional Irish Recordings from 1923 to 1947: Vol. 1 U.S. Recordings (Oldtime Records, OTR 101, 2006).
  • Traditional Irish Recordings from the 1920s and 1930s: Vol. 2. U.S. Recordings (Oldtime Records, OTR 102, 2007).
  • The Fiddler's Delight: Rare 78rpm Irish Fiddle Recordings 1921-1945 (Oldtime Records CD OTR 107, 2016).

External links[edit]