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Marie Begley: Piano

Produced and recorded by Gerry Harrington

I SHALL BEGIN my own introduction by paying a tribute to my relations who have gone to their eternal reward, and who have passed on the great legacy of music to me.

I am of course talking about my father and mother John and Julia Clifford, also my uncle Denis Murphy. Indeed it was my mother's mother who started me off with the very first tune.

I could say that I am doubly grateful for having been given not only the gift of playing music, but also the gift of playing in the Sliabh Luachra style. It cannot be overstated that the preservation of a regional style coupled with one's own personal interpretation of that particular style is very important. In a good percentage of the twenty tracks on this particular recording my intention was to reflect this to the best of my ability. Billy Clifford


The Gullane Slide:

The Ewe Reel:

John Clifford's:

Track Listing

  1. Denis Murphy's #3 / The Gullane Slide
  2. The Blue Ribbin Polka's #2 + #1
  3. Tom Billy's / The Humours of Killarney (Jigs)
  4. The Ewe Reel / Farewell to Erin
  5. The Smokey Chimney / The Rose of Drishane (HPs)
  6. Johnnie The Tailor's Fancy / Willie Reidy's (slides)
  7. Denis Murphy's / O'Keefe's Pitchfork / Tom O'Connor's. (Jigs)
  8. Moll Morrissy's / Roseaunt / Dinie Dennehy's. (Polkas)
  9. The West Wind. (Air & Reel)
  10. Peter Wyper's / The Wonder (Hornpipes)
  11. Farewell to My Troubles / The Humours of Glin. (Jigs)
  12. Mrs Edwards / David Power. (O'Carolan)
  13. Timmy Clifford's / John Clifford's. (Polkas)
  14. Mama's Pet / Johnie When You Die / Anything for John Joe. (Reels).
  15. The Dear Irish Boy. (Air)
  16. Padraig O'Keefe's / Jack Reidy's. (Polkas)
  17. Cronin's Rambles / Queen of May. (Hornpipes)
  18. The Crooked Road / The Clare Reel.
  19. Napoleon's March.
  20. Relics of Old Decency / Stick the Minister / Follow Me Down to Carlow. (Reels).

"A clear and sweet tone announces the flute music of Billy Clifford captured here on 20 tracks - over an hour of skilful and distinctive playing of traditional music tunes of many types including two slow airs with some selections played on tin-whistle to add further variety.

Billy inherited music from both of his parents - his father John Clifford was a highly regarded accordion player and his mother was Julia Clifford, one of a family of ten, the Murphys of Gneeveguilla, all of whom played traditional music. She is acknowledged as having been an outstanding fiddle player of her generation, and so Billy has a rich Sliabh Luachra heritage on both sides of his family.

Although the main instruments in the Sliabh Luachra area are the fiddle and accordion, Billy's choice was the concert flute and this makes his playing of slides and polkas and indeed the other tunes and airs on this disc all the more appealing and interesting. He has rare tunes and also unusual versions of other tunes that are commonly played. The music he has selected from many sources for this recording and his ability to use tasteful ornamentation and variation give his playing a special quality. He has also over the years of his life absorbed many musical experiences and all this has given his music a rounded depth which will give pleasure and value to those who hear it - listeners, learners and lovers of traditional Irish music". Peter Browne

Press Reviews


This is one for the archives. Billy Clifford was a childhood hero of mine: fluter with the Star of Munster Trio, playing alongside his parents John and Julia Clifford, or his uncle Denis Murphy. Billy Clifford's flute was a distinctive sound in Sliabh Luachra music, at a time when flute players were not so common. Several decades later, Billy is still keen to preserve the regional character of his music, and to present the Sliabh Luachra repertoire to an audience unfamiliar with the style of Munster's musical heartland. Billy plays wooden keyed flutes in the Boehm and Radcliffe systems, similar to orchestral flutes in appearance but with a very different tone, and he switches to the tin whistle for a few selections here. He is accompanied on several tracks by Máire Begley on piano.

Echoes of Sliabh Luachra crams more than two score tunes into just over an hour, mainly in sets of two. The majority are Sliabh Luachra classics, with some unusual versions. The Blue Ribbon Polkas, Tom Billy's Jig, The Ewe Reel, Denis Murphy's Jig, Dinnie Dennehy's Polka and John Clifford's Polka are among the melodies in this collection which encapsulate that Cork and Kerry sound. Billy also plays two beautiful slow airs here, The West Wind and The Dear Irish Boy, as well as some widely known reels and hornpipes. Billy Clifford has produced other recordings, and some of them are still available, but he never recorded a large body of music and we're fortunate indeed that he has found time to put down these twenty tracks. Alex Monaghan

Irish Music Magazine


One of Irish music's true gentleman Billy Clifford was presented with the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Gradam at Ballykisteen Hotel during the start of the Tipperary Fleadh. Billy who has lived in the premier county for four decades made two of the classic Topic albums of Sliabh Luachra music over forty years ago. Billy is the son of the late John and Julia Clifford, his mother was the sister of Dennis Murphy. Their Julia, John & Billy Clifford - The Star of Munster Trio (Topic - 12TS310 - 1977) was recorded between 1964 and around a single microphone in Eric and Lucy Farr's kitchen. Billy was joined on stage by his son Dennis who played his uncle Dennis' fiddle. Billy is due to release a CD in late summer.

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