"Richie Piggott researches and writes about the social history of Irish music. His work focuses on the people who played Irish traditional music and their communities, both in Ireland and within the Irish diaspora in Europe and North America. Richie brings great knowledge and enthusiasm to the subject, seeking out the people who played this music and carried their cultural traditions. Through his work and dedication, Richie has created valuable and original research, uncovering unique sound recordings, images and musical manuscripts, along with the fascinating life stories of these tradition bearers."
– Emmett Gill, Archivist, Na Píobairí Uilleann
Richie Piggott, originally from Cobh, Co Cork, Ireland, has now lived in Chicago, USA for more than twenty years. His father, Johnny Piggott, was an accordion player from Dooks, near Glenbeigh, Co Kerry and his mother, Margaret Flannery, was from Dingle, Co Kerry whose family were intimately involved in the marching bands of Dingle down through the years. His brother, Charlie, was a founding member of De Dannan and continues to play Irish music professionally today. Although not a musician himself, Richie’s love of Irish music has led to a lifelong collection of Irish music books and music manuscripts and a deep interest in the history of Irish traditional musicians. For the past 12 years, Richie’s focus has been on the history of the lives and music of Irish immigrants in Chicago and the surrounding area over the past hundred years. He has contributed several historical recordings and manuscripts to the Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA) and to the Piper’s Club, Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU) in Dublin, Ireland, and he has delivered many presentations on his work in Chicago and Ireland over the past few years.
About the Archive
Over the past ten years my research into Irish immigrants and some of their children, who played Irish traditional music in Chicago, has focused on two specific groups spanning the last 100 years. Firstly, those who emmigrated from the mid-1920s following a bitter Civil War in Ireland and secondly, those who left Ireland following WW2, arriving in Chicago from the late-1940s. I began by interviewing the latter group, who included Southside musicians such as Kevin Henry, Malachy Towey, Phil Durkin, Frank Burke and Northside musicians including Tom O’Malley, Pat McPartland and Mary McDonagh. During these initial interviews, talk of the older musicians invariably arose, those who were playing in Chicago when my interviewees arrived in the City in the late 1940s and 1950s. This compelled me to seek out and interview the families of these older Irish musicians, now long passed, who included Jimmy Neary, Ann Cawley, Pat Roche, Frank Thornton, Joe Shannon, to name but a few. As a result, I have collected not alone hundreds of hours of audio and video interviews, but all I interviewed were very generous in sharing many videos, photographs, music recordings (commercial 78s, LPs, cassettes and privately-made 78s, Reel-to-Reel tapes and cassettes), books and music manuscripts, resulting in an important archive of Irish music of Chicago covering the past 100 years.
With the archive launched, we'll be looking to upload new material every 4-6 weeks – do check back or sign up to the mailing list to hear about new additions!