Virtual Music Trail

Ellen Galvin

Moyasta, County Clare

Ellen ‘Nell’ Galvin was born in Ahea, Knockalough, Co. Clare in 1887. Her parents were Pat McCarthy, a weaver and Mary Walsh. Listening to the older musicians in her area as she grew up, especially uileann pipers, she developed a complex and highly developed style of playing, similar to piping, which was evident in her use of droning strings, dissonance and intricate ornamentation. Because of this, she was considered an important living link with pre-famine music.

When Nell married she moved to Moyasta, between the town of Kilrush and Kilkee on the west Clare coast. Known to many simply as ‘Mrs Galvin’, Nell played with accomplished concertina player Mrs Crotty in Kilrush and would also have been a comtemporary of John Kelly, Willie Clancy and Junior Crehan. She was a founder member of Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann in Clare in 1954.

In the mid-1950’s she was recorded by national broadcaster Radio Éireann, and these are held at the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin. The famous Castle Ceili band, which at the time included Paddy ‘Offaly’ O’Brien, Mick O’Connor, Joe Ryan, Chalie Lennon and Michael Tubridy recorded a fling called ‘Mrs Galvins’, a tune they credited to her. Nell Galvin died in 1958.
Old Hag You Have Killed Me - Jig - Nell Galvin
Ellen Galvin
Ellen Galvin