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About the project

This project presents the music & life of John Kelly, a fiddle & concertina player from Rehy in West Clare, who later lived in Capel Street in Dublin. John was a pivotal figure in traditional Irish music throughout the 20th century and still has an influence on musicians to this day.

The website had been researched and created by John’s granddaughter, Aoife Kelly who is a musician and website designer, in order to share her families knowledge with the wider Irish traditional music community.

John Senior & Aoife Kelly. Circa 1983. 

Mary Brennan, John’s grandmother from Scattery Island. 

John's Repertoire

John had a wide repertoire of tunes which came from many different sources. Some were tunes associated with his family, others came from musicians he met throughout his life, along with some of his own compositions. He was particularly known for having a great memory for details and settings of tunes.

The website includes approximately 50 tunes that John played, including video and audio recordings of John, along with tune notations as per his setting.

Research was carried out into the background of each tune in an effort to highlight the many sources of tunes that John had.

Musical Context

Through interviews that John gave that are available on the website, you can learn about his life: From his early years in Clare, the musicians he played with, to his family and home life.

You can find out about the music scene in Dublin during the 20th century, the important locations in his life and also the bands he played with throughout his musical career.

Discover more about the friends and collaborations in John’s life: Patsy Geary, Bobby Casey, Breandán Breathnach, Seán Ó Riada, Joe Ryan, Willie Clancy, Mrs. Galvin & Johnny Doran just to name a few.

Ceoltóirí Chualann, Dublin, 1962.

Additional Materials

John was an avid collector throughout his life. In this part of the website, you can see material that includes notes, articles, photos, books etc. from John’s private collection along with material from other sources.

Learn about some of the instruments he owned and played and see a discography of some of the albums that he recorded, individually and with others.

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