In the late 1970s the traditional singer and storyteller Joe Heaney visited Australia to perform at one of the Larrikin Folklife Festivals. It was the first and only time the folklife festival filled the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall.
Imagine that – an unaccompanied Irish singer and storyteller filling the Opera House. I first came across Joe Heaney through a recording on the Topic Record label and was struck by his clarity of singing and his repertoire of songs. This LP only skimmed the surface of Joe’s unbelievably extensive repertoire. I wanted to have Joe in the festival because he represented the true traditional singer. On arrival I arranged for the Sydney Morning Herald to feature a smiling photograph of Joe on the front page of the morning paper – and it worked. The telephones went crazy with bookings. When Joe walked out on the stage the audience erupted and when he finished he received a standing ovation. It was a rare opportunity to hear the tradition in action.
Listen to the concert and enjoy one of the world’s great folk singers.
I am eternally grateful to Davis Mulhallen, my producer associate at the ABC for many years, for his editing of the concert and for saving it for posterity.
Here is a video of Joe, introduced by Robin Williamson of the Incredible String Band – Robin and his group appeared at the same Larrikin Folklife Concert at the Sydney Opera House. It’s wonderful to see Joe in action live.
Concert Part 1
Concert Part 3
Wiki Entry as at February 2010.
Seosamh Ó hÉanaí ( aka Joe Heaney or Joe Éinniú), Sean Nós singer, 1919 – 1984.
A native of Carna, County Galway, Ireland, Ó hÉanaí spent much of his life living in England, Scotland and in New York City. From 1982 until 1984, Ó hÉanaí was an artist-in-residence at the University of Washington in Seattle. The Joe Heaney Collection of the University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archives was established after Ó hÉanaí’s death in 1984. The Féile Chomórtha Joe Éinniú (Joe Heaney Commemorative Festival) is held every year in Carna.
* “Caoineadh na dtrí Maire” (The Lament of the Three Marys) (Gael Linn CE2 1957) 78 RPM
* “Neansín Bhán” (Fair Nancy) (Gael Linn CE3 1957) 78 RPM
* “Bean an Leanna” (The Woman with the Beer) Gael Linn CE4 1957) 78 RPM
* Individual songs on Gael Linn Discs (various artists): “Amhrán na Trá Báine” (Gael Linn CE16), “Amhrán na Páise” (Gael Linn CE17), “Sadhbh Ní Bhruinneallaigh” & “Is Measa Liom Bródach” (Gael Linn CE18) 1960 78 RPM, reissued in “Seoltaí Séidte” (Gael Linn CEFCD 184 2004) (various artists)
* “Amhráin Aniar” (Gael Linn GL4 c1960) 4 track EP 78 RPM
* “Joe Heaney Morrisey & the Russian Sailor” (Collector Records JEI 5 1960) 3 track EP 45 RPM
* “Joe Heaney The Bonny Bunch of Roses & Other Irish Songs” (Collector Records JEI 7 1960) 3 track EP 45 RPM
* “Joe Heaney Sings Traditional Songs in Gaelic and English” (Topic 1963; Ossian c 1979)
* “Come All Ye Gallant Irishmen” (Philo 1963, 2004; Clo Iar-Chonnachta, c1989)
* “Irish Music in London Pubs” (Folkways Records FW 3575 1965; reissued Cló Iar-Chonnachta 1990) (various artists recorded 1958)
* “Seoda Ceoil 2” (Gael Linn CEF 022 1969) (various artists)
* “Seosamh O’hEanaí” (Gael Linn CEF 028 1971) (Cover notes by Seán Mac Réamoinn), reissued as disc one in “Seosamh O’hEanaí O Mo Dúchas/From My Tradition Sraith 1 & Sraith 2” (Gael Linn CEFCD 191 2007)
* “Joe Heaney” (1975 Philo 2004) (Jacket notes by Kenneth S. Goldstein and Michael Maloney)
* “Seosamh O’hEanaí, sraith 2. O Mo Dúchas: From My Tradition” (Gael Linn CEF 051 1976) (Cover notes by Seán Mac Réamoinn), reissued as “The Best of Joe Heaney: From My Tradition” (Shanachie Aug. 19, 1997) and as disc two in “Seosamh O’hEanaí O Mo Dúchas/From My Tradition Sraith 1 & Sraith 2” (Gael Linn CEFCD 191 2007)
* “Joe and the Gabe” (with Gabe O’Sullivan) (Green Linnet 1979)
* “Say a Song: Joe Heaney in the Pacific Northwest” (Trade Root Music / Northwest Folklife NWARCD 001 Oct. 15, 1996)
* “Road from Connemara: Songs and Stories Told and Sung to Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger” (Topic Records Oct. 31, 2000)
* “Tell a Story: Joe Heaney in the Pacific Northwest” (Camsco 701 Feb. 5, 2008) (Liner notes by Sean Williams)
He was recorded by Pádraic Ó Raghallaigh for Raidió Teilifís Éireann, and by Peter Kennedy for the BBC in 1959. The BBC recordings were assembled on a BBC LP, not commercially issued, as BBC LP 22570.
For a detailed interview and overview of Joe Heaney’s life and music visit http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/heaney.htm