– February 19
) was an Irish musician
best known for his expert tin whistle
performance. He also played the simple-system flute
and was a collector of traditional music and folklore
Russell was born in Doonagore
, County Clare
. Russell came from a renowned musically family, his mother played the concertina, and his father was a sean-nós
singer. He had two brothers, Packie and Gussie, who were also musicians. He also had two sisters. He never married.
Russell taught himself to play the tin whistle by ear starting at age eleven. The 1960s revival of Irish traditional music
brought him attention and performance opportunities. In 1973, Russell won the All-Ireland tin whistle competition
, which further increased demand for his performances. Like Séamus Ennis
, Russell was also known for his spoken introductions to tunes in his live performances, which incorporated folklore and legend. His knowledge of tradition extended past music to language, stories, dance, herbal lore, and old country cures.
Death and afterwards
Russell died in a car accident in 1994.
"Micho Russell's Reel," his only known composition, is a variant of an older tune he called "Carthy's Reel." He told Charlie Piggott, "...So Carthy was beyond anyway and he heard the old tune from a piper playing it and he had the first part but only three-quarters of the second part. So when Séamus Ennis came around collecting music, I put in the last bit. That's roughly the story of the tune.". The reel has been recorded by other artists such as Mary Bergin
. His best-known songs were John Phillip Holland
and The Well of Spring Water
Micho Russell performs on the following recordings
||Micho, Pakie and Gusie Russell
||The Russell Family of Doolin, Co. Clare
||Recorded in O'Connor's Bar, Doolin January 1974. |
||Traditional Country Music of Co. Clare
||Reissued on CD by Free Reed in 2008 |
||Under the Cliffs of Moher
||The Limestone Rock
||GTD Heritage Recording Co. Ltd.
John Williams (Green Linnet Records 1157) 7.1994
||Ireland’s Whistling Ambassador
||The Pennywhistler’s Press
||Includes a 28 page booklet with a biography and notes on his music. There is also a video release with different music. |
Micho Russell wrote the following books
||The Piper's Chair
||Ossian Publications |
||The Piper's Chair No. 2
||Canal Press, N.Y. |
||The road to Aran: Songs, Folklore and Music of West of Ireland
||Micho Russell, Doolin. |
||Doolin's Micho Russell
||Ennistymon Festival of Traditional Singing, Co. Clare. |
||Music & Folklore of Doonagore
||Micho Russell, Doolin. |
Old Photos of Micho Russell and Doolin
- Vallely, Fintan; Piggott, Charlie (1998). Blooming Meadows: The World of Irish Traditional Musicians. Roberts Rinehart Publishers. ISBN 1-86059-067-5.
- Vallely, Fintan (1999). The Companion to Irish Traditional Music. New York, NY: New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-8802-5.