John James Connaghan (1900 – 1973)
John James Connaghan’s blacksmiths forge on the Doorin Line was one of the most important meeting places for local musicians such as Daniel Shields, Charlie McCahill and the Meehan family of Drimalost. The forge was, by its nature, of interest to travelling tinsmiths including the Doherty family and Erwin O’Rourke, who settled in the Mountcharles area. John James kept his fiddle hanging on the wall for visiting musicians to play and indeed, an afternoon of music was commonly heard emanating from the forge. John James had a very distinct style of sweet fiddle playing with plenty control and a strong rhythm which is evident in his recording of the highland version of ‘The Gravel Walks’. In this way, he can be compared to his contemporaries such as Charlie McCahill and Peter Quinn. John James also had a great respect for the lilting tradition, the foundation for much of the fiddle music played in the area. One local player who was highly influenced by him was Danny Meehan, who recalls John James playing reels such as Mooney’s favourite, The Silver Spire, Doctor Gilberts and a nice version of Miss McLeod’s Reel.
John James Connaghan playing the highland version of ‘The Gravel Walks’.