No Better Boy tells the story of a master of traditional Irish music: the legendary East Clare fiddler Paddy Canny, whose haunting music was remarkable for its virtuosity and sophistication.
In the 1950s, when he was in his thirties and at the pinnacle of his career, Paddy Canny became a national radio star, played solo in Carnegie Hall, toured England with the renowned Tulla Céilí Band, and made a much-loved recording. All were extraordinary achievements for a man raised on a marginal farm, where the gramophone records that inspired him were accessible only through the good grace of neighbours. In richly evocative prose, Helen O’Shea distils stories of success and adversity that Paddy Canny told to family and friends, to radio interviewers and historians. These stories illuminate rural life in mid-twentieth-century Ireland, major social and economic changes, and the decline and revival of traditional music and dancing.
A compelling story told with passion and insight, this is a book for readers with an interest in Ireland’s social history and for music lovers everywhere.
No Better Boy includes annotated transcriptions of music played by Paddy Canny and his contemporaries, sourced from archives and personal collections as well as commercial recordings.