Sun, Dec

A History of Irish Music by Larry Kirwan

Non Fiction

 From Medieval Wexford to Midtown Manhattan Larry Kirwan tells the story of Irish music to a backdrop of war, social upheaval and revolution. Buy Book Here

From Viking invader to Sean O’Riada, Oliver Cromwell to Rory Gallagher, James Connolly to Van Morrison the book explodes in a clash of uilleann pipes, armalites and electric guitars.

Kirwan, leader of Black 47, watches the 1960’s Ireland of staid showbands morph into the Blues of Rory Gallagher, the R&B of Van, and the Trad of The Chieftains.  He details how the introduction of television and the civil rights movement affected the music.  Emigration is always a factor and eventually Kirwan joins the Diaspora and witnesses the music adapting to the London of The Pogues, the Boston of Dropkick Murphys, and the New York City of Black 47.

A History of Irish Music is unapologetically subjective – Kirwan makes the case that Sean O’Riada’s groundbreaking score for the 1959 film, Mise Eire, sparked the nationalist uprising of the following decade.  That Van Morrison’s oeuvre was chiefly inspired by the old time religion of East Belfast, and somewhat comically how Brendan Bowyer and The Royal Showband hastened the Irish sexual revolution by jamming parish halls with virginal teenagers.

He describes the heroism of Thin Lizzy, Horslips, and Rory Gallagher who insisted on playing Belfast during the Troubles, and the night the music died when members of The Miami Showband were executed en route from a performance in the North.

He gives vital insider sketches of friends and acquaintances like Donal Lunny, Christy Moore, Sinead O’Connor, Liam Clancy, The Saw Doctors and Hothouse Flowers, and where U2 fits in the Irish psyche.  He describes the early days of CBGB’s, and how “the temple of Punk” affected the Celtic Rock of The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.  We get an intimate look at how Black 47 re-imagined Irish music, and how the band supported civil rights in Ireland and the US while challenging homophobia and the Iraq invasion.

Thomas Keneally, of Schindler’s List fame says: “Larry Kirwan’s journey through Irish music is a memoir, a love story, a history of modern Ireland and thus unique. A vivid, beautifully  written adventure.”  A pulsing, passionate story told by an insider!

 About the Author

Larry Kirwan is a musician, playwright and novelist. He hosts and produces Celtic Crush on SiriusXM and writes a regular column for The Irish Echo. He will give a number of readings and performances to promote A History of Irish Music. For details: where the book can also be purchased.