The Raidió Éireann recordings of Joe Lacky Gallagher included here were made in February and March of 1948. This was at the start of new era in Irish broadcasting and for the first time it was now possible for musicians to be recorded where they were most comfortable – in their own towns, villages and homes. Before this, traditional players had to make the journey from the places where they lived to the RÉ studios in Henry St. in Dublin and this could sometimes mean that they were not always fully at their ease when performing on air.
Recordings in all parts of Ireland were made possible by an innovation known as the Raidió Éireann Mobile Recording Unit (MRU) which first appeared in 1947. It was important at that time also that one of those who was travelling and working with the MRU was Séamus Ennis. He was himself a superb uilleann piper and he felt a strong empathy with his fellow traditional musicians and singers. He saw and respected their worth and they in turn liked him and made a point of giving him their best performances in a recording session.
In the course of his work around the country, Séamus recognised talented and valuable traditional players and singers and always endeavoured to record a wide selection of music from them. When he was visiting Co. Leitrim with the MRU in 1948, he clearly felt that Joe Gallagher was one such player and for this reason it is fortunate that we can now enjoy over an hour of his fiddle music played in a beautiful and fascinating style which has much to offer to listeners, learners and lovers of traditional Irish music. The original MRU recordings were made on acetate discs which were quite fragile and only intended for a limited amount of use in the Raidió Éireann programme making of that era. We can be grateful that these discs were preserved for over 60 years and that the sound has now been restored to the high quality we can hear on this set of recordings.
Peter Browne (rté), June 2010