In the yearly bedlam of green dye, corned beef and cabbage, and pints of stout on the 17th of March, no celebration of Irish culture would be complete without acknowledging the country’s rich musical traditions. Ireland has birthed musicians in all genres from classical to pop, though it is perhaps best known for the traditional jigs, reels and ballads still heard in the pubs today.
Fiddler James Kelly and harpist Claire Fleming are two musicians who have shared traditional Irish music with the state of Florida. Born in Dublin, Kelly began learning the fiddle from his father, a renowned musician from County Clare, at the age of three. By the time he moved to Miami in 1984, he had toured the United States, Europe, Canada and South America, appeared on numerous recordings, and taught fiddle classes and workshops. In 2001, he won the Florida Folk Heritage Award.
This medley of reels accompanied by guitarist Mick Moloney at the 1987 Florida Folk Festival includes “The Crooked Road to Dublin,” “The Sligo Maid” and “The Boyne Hunt.” James Kelly is also featured in a podcast as well as the Folk section of the Florida Memory Audio page.
The Irish Cultural Association of Jacksonville brought harpist Claire Fleming from Dublin, and she performed on multiple occasions at the Florida Folk Festival. This rendition of “She Moved Through the Fair” was captured at the Old Marble Stage in 1996.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!