Daniel Donnelly Gallagher (1892 – 1964)

Daniel Donnelly Gallagher was, without doubt, one of the most important characters in the music tradition in the parish of Inver. Like John James Connaghan, His house in Sallows was a meeting point and an ‘open house’ where players could visit, discuss music and pick up tunes from Daniel who was a highly respected fiddle player. The family had adopted the name ‘Donnelly’ due to the large number of Gallagher families in Croagh where they lived before migrating to Sallows where Daniel was born in 1892. He must have excelled at music quite young and was confident enough to sell his only cow to finance the purchase of a bicycle and a fiddle, probably with the intention of earning a living through playing at dances and big nights. Unfortunately, Daniel suffered some paralysis in his early twenties after a severe wetting while cycling home from Lough Derg and rarely left the house afterwards. He was known for his handiwork and he fashioned a homemade chair made from old rubber tyres and straw and it was here that he held court and entertained many visiting musicians for the remainder of his life. He manufactured at least two tin fiddles, and it was on one of these that Charlie O’Neill first played as a young boy in the 1920s. Charlie learned much of his music from Daniel as well other visitors to the house including Charlie McCahill, Dan Harvey, George Williamson and later Michael Doherty and Donal Kelly to name but a few. Arthur Darley, the noted collector and composer used visit Daniel in the 1920s and perhaps collected some of the local repertoire from him. He could read music in a period when most could not, and used to lilt tunes out of Francis O’Neill’s 1001 for non-readers to ‘pick up’. On the other hand, many versions of tunes associated with the area were kept alive through nights of music in Daniel’s house including The Blue Stack Mazurka, The Binbane Highland, The Boston Two Step and a lovely version of the highland ‘Money Musk’. In 2003 a memorial stone was erected close to the remains of Daniel’s house in recognition of the central role he played in the local music tradition.

Charlie O’Neill playing Daniel’s version of the highland ‘Money Musk’ [rec. Marie Burns, 1985]