Jack Coughlin's


I met Jack Coughlin only once, sometime in the early '60s. Jack was a lovely flute player in the lyrical and flowing style associated with East County Galway. He was living in London when I was introduced to him by my lifelong friend, master musician Joe Burke. Joe also gave me this reel and told me that it was a favourite of Jack Coughlin's. My nephew Damien Connolly plays the tune on this track on his two row button accordion. It is interesting to note that he begins the tune on what might at first seem to the listener to be its second part, or as we say in Ireland 'the turn of the tune'. When one listens to the wonderful double CD recording of master musician Eddie Moloney, a neighbour of Jack Coughlin's, one hears Eddie play on flute this same reel with the parts reversed. One could ask the question then, which is the first part of the tune, and which is the second part? My answer would be that, delightfully, the parts work beautifully when played either way.

Incidentally, Sean Moloney, in his notes on the CD recording of his father's music, tells us that Eddie learned many tunes, including the one featured here, from Tommy Whelan. A flute player, Tommy was a member of the Ballinakill Traditional Players and a composer of many fine tunes. In all probability then, these masters from the past, Jack Coughlin, Eddie Moloney, and Tommy Whelan, played this tune often. This amazing flute tradition from in and around Ballinakill, County Galway made its way across the Atlantic Ocean, brought to America by two other masters from East Galway, Mike Rafferty and Jack Coen. Both these gentlemen were awarded National Heritage Fellowships for their contributions to the living arts and culture of the United States. What an amazing life's journey in the name of music. Enjoy the tune and decide for yourself which part you would prefer to begin the tune on!


Séamus Connolly
Boston College Libraries

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Connolly, Damien (accordion), “Jack Coughlin's,” The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music, accessed July 17, 2024, https://connollymusiccollection.bc.edu/document/577.