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Press Release: Remembering Padraic Ganly

- An Evening of Music and Film at Tuar Ard, Moate

Patrick Ganly was born in the parish of Kilcleagh near Moate in 1857. At just eighteen years of age, he, like thousands of others from Westmeath and Longford, left for Argentina. In 1899 Patrick Ganly and his wife Mary (nee McGeoy) returned to Ireland and took up residence at Aghanagrit, near Moate. During this time their daughter Ellen was born and in 1901 the family returned to Argentina where they remained.
Patrick Ganly was a gifted fiddler and a prolific composer. He named many of his tunes after places in Westmeath around where he had grown up. Ganly was very interested in the politics of his homeland and the titles of several of his tunes reflect his nationalist stance; tunes such ‘The Old Fenian’s Favourite’, ‘The Land for the People’, ‘The Sinn Feiners of Westmeath’ and ‘The Sinn Fein volunteers’. Ganly was obviously following the news from Ireland with great interest, and this is evidenced by tunes such as ‘Our Men of Easter Week’, ‘Ashbourne’s fighting Gaels’ and other tunes dedicated to both Countess Markievicz and Eamon De Valera. He also wrote tunes named for Laurence Ginnell, MP and later TD for Longford-Westmeath, and for Mrs [Alice] Ginnell.
In 1916, having retired from his ranching career, Ganly compiled some of his tunes into book form. In 1918 ‘Poblacht na hEireann: 110 original Irish dance tunes and other pieces for violin, flute, etc composed by Padraic Ganly’ was published. This is one of four volumes of his original music and is the only one to survive. There are copies ‘Poblacht na hEireann’ in the Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA), the National Library of Ireland, and the Aidan Heavy Collection in Athlone Library, where a copy of the first printing complete with a hand-produced errata slip can be seen.
This book of tunes is available on the Irish Traditional Music Archive website, where a note describes Ganly’s music thus “the notations exhibit a high degree of musical literacy and, although they are mostly set in one or two sharps or flats….they are in fact technically demanding”. It also states that while the “compositions are primarily intended for violin and flute...other musical performance is also referred to: lilting, whistling, and especially bagpiping”. The author of these notes goes on to say that some of the tunes might have been written for playing at public political events.
Known as Don Patricio in Argentina, Ganly adopted the Irish form of his Christian name. Padraic Ganly died in 1949 and his obituary notes “when he took down his violin, he simply made it talk”.
In recognition of his musical legacy, and to explore more of his life, a documentary film has been commissioned. This film, made by Bailey and Blake, will be premiered in Tuar Ard on Thursday 2 November at 8pm. The launch night will include performances of some of Ganly’s music by the students of Geraldine McLynn and by music group ‘dBize’. The event promises to be informative and fun and is free to attend. The film and launch event are being funded by the Decade of Centenaries Programme, Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media with support from Westmeath County Council and Longford Westmeath Argentina Society.

Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 17/10/2023