Cry of a People Gone
The book begins with a history of Chicago and the reasons why emigrants from Ireland came to the city. It gives two personal accounts of what it was like to emigrate from Ireland; the first during the Great Famine of 1845-1850 and the second 100 years later in the late 1940s/early 1950s.
The next two sections of the book give detailed biographical information on Irish musicians who came to Chicago from Ireland and also includes first generation Irish American musicians born in Chicago. Section one covers the period from 1920-1945 and the second from 1945 – 2020.
The remaining chapters cover significant milestones in the development of Irish music in Chicago which include the formation of the Irish Musicians Association of America (IMA); tours of Irish musicians and dancers in both Ireland and America and the history of the first Fleadh Cheoil in Chicago (1964-1969).
There are two appendices to the book specifically covering accordion players in Chicago and a personal (previously unpublished) memoir by Frank Thornton on Irish music in Chicago. The book includes hundreds of photographs, primarily donated to me by the families I interviewed, which greatly add to the telling of the history of Irish music in Chicago.
– Richie Piggott, Chicago
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Piggott augments and extends O'Neill's documentation into the 21st century... an impressive amount of information... a rich, detailed view of the lives of people who came from Ireland and made a life in Chicago... Piggott's work is sure to become a classic in Irish musical history and preserves the legacy of those who loved, collected and played Irish music.
– Irish Edition (Nov. 2022)
What Piggott’s done for Chicago music here is amazing because he really changes the game... Cry of a People Gone is brilliant. Substantial in feel, it’s an incredible marriage of primary source and archival material that tells an engaging story about Irish people and music in America. Piggott’s expansive research reveals an impressive gallery of musicians who helped shape traditional music and it covers a lot of very interesting ground along the way. Ultimately, this is a truly outstanding book that every fan of Irish music should own... if you’re looking for a Christmas gift idea for the traditional musician in your life, you wouldn’t go wrong with this!