Category Archives: News

Chris Droney, R.I.P.

Chris Droney, Legendary Musician, R.I.P.

Globally, the trad community is on ‘pause’ as they reflect on the life of Chris Droney, legendary concertina player from County Clare, after his passing at the age of 95.  His legacy will continue for many years to come. Chris was also a family man and the beloved older brother of two of our long time members, Frank and John Droney.  On behalf of the Reynolds Hanafin Cooley Board and its members, we extend our condolences to John, Frank and the entire Droney family.  Chris’s death occurring within days of Jim Droney’s death, their nephew in Connecticut, has got to be difficult for this family.  Please remember them all in your thoughts and prayers.
Ar dheis  Dé go raibh a anam. 

Legendary concertina player Chris Droney has passed away, at the age of 95.

The Bellharbour native had been renowned across Ireland and abroad as an outstanding ambassador for Irish traditional music for several decades now.

Chris was the figurehead of the Droney family, which is renowned in music circles, with son Francis and daughter Ann, while many of his grandchildren continue the family tradition.

In 2012, Chris Droney was named as Clare Person of the Year while two years later he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement honour at the TG4 Gradam Ceoil awards. In 2018, he was bestowed with the annual MORGlor award.

In Clare, however, he will be best known as one of the most enduring and beloved figures in traditional music circles.

May he rest in peace.

The above picture and text was posted on the   clare-fm Facebook page.

Chris Droney’s Obituary

Link directly to Chris Droney’s obituary.   

It has been  re-printed it here for your convenience.

Chris Droney, Bellharbour, Co. Clare, passed away peacefully, after a short illness, surrounded by his loving family, at UHG on Wednesday 9th September. Predeceased by his two brothers, Gussie (Jimmy) and Joe (Patrick) and very recently, his nephew Jimmy (USA).

He is survived by his devoted wife Margaret, his loving children, Jimmy, Ann, Clare, Francis, Declan, Joseph and Caroline, his grandchildren, David, James, Áine, Iarlaith, Oisín, Aoibhín, Ailbhe, Doireann, Cathal, Gráinne, Éanna, Christopher, Cian, Meaghan, Saileóg, Cillian, Ciara, Joey, Robin and Heidi and great-grandchildren, Hanorah, Líobhan, and Seán, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, relatives, neighbours and a wide circle of friends.

May he rest in peace

House strictly private due to COVID 19 pandemic.

His funeral cortège will arrive at St. Patrick’s Church, New Quay, on Saturday, 12th September, for a private family Requiem Mass at 12 noon.

Those who would have liked to attend, and be part of Chris’ last farewell, can view the mass on or are welcome to stand outside the church grounds, along the route from St Patrick’s Church to Bellharbour village, observing social distance in accordance with Government guidelines.

The funeral cortège will proceed to his “final resting place in Peaceful Corcomroe”.

Condolences to the family may be left on the online page below.

Published on Thursday 10th September 2020

Now that you’ve read his obituary, listen to Chris …in his own words.

This is a recent video (August 2020) published by TG4, narrated by Chris himself, talking about his life “in the heart of the Burren mountains” and his love of music and how it has been passed down from his grandfather and how it continues to be handed down.
Chris Droney’s Music

And  listen to his music. It defined much of his life.

Chris Droney, Francis Droney, & Áine Droney playing at Greene’s Pub, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare in 2013

Chris Droney on concertina with Kitty Linnane on piano “two great heroes of the Clare tradition” performing three reels

Chris Droney  with the North Clare Trad Group in a toe-tapping pub session

Dave Flynn & The Clare Memory Orchestra present the Bellharbour Droneys, featuring some of the best Irish traditional, classical and jazz musicians around . At the end of the 2nd Movement ‘North Clare’ when Clare concertina legend Chris Droney came on stage as special guest with his children Francis and Aine the age range on stage was from 11-­88. (music only)

Chris Droney recorded live at the 2014 Gradam Ceoil TG4 Irish music awards in Belfast. We are delighted to see him get up and set dance beautifully to Miss Thornton’s reel.

Joseph ‘Joe’ O’malley, R.I.P.

Joseph ‘Joe’ O’Malley,    R.I.P.


With sadness, we advise you of the recent passing of Joe O’Malley.  May he rest In peace.  Many of you knew Joe personally, a proud Connemara man, or have seen him often playing his accordion at our ceilis, fundraisers, or any other gatherings where Irish traditional music was to be heard.  I recall oftentimes between figures of a set I’d hear a peal of laughter at some joke or funny story Joe was telling, or of how he always loved to have some Irish chocolate or sweets and would  share them with everyone. He will be missed.  

Our sincere sympathies to his wife Theresa, his children, Tricia and Martin, and their families. 

Ar dheis  Dé go raibh a anam.

Joe’s Obituary

 Link directly to Joe O’Malley’s obituary.   We’ve re-printed it here for your convenience.                    

O’MALLEY, Joseph of Weymouth, died peacefully on Friday, August 14, 2020 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. He was 82.

Born in Carraroe, County Galway, Ireland, on February 14, 1938, he was the son of the late Patrick and Ann (Griffin) O’Malley. Joe was raised in Ireland before immigrating to the United States in 1959.

Joe was an extremely hard worker. At just 14 years old, he began working on a farm that required him to bicycle 25 miles from his home in Connemara.  He moved to England at the age of 16 and worked in construction there until he immigrated to the United States in 1959. He settled in Boston and worked as a union carpenter. Along with help from friends, Joe built the Weymouth home where he raised his family. When he wasn’t working, he most enjoyed playing cards, attending Irish football matches, visiting his homeland and never turned down an invitation to a party.

One of Joe’s greatest joys was entertaining people with his accordion tunes. Friends and family would gather for hours, listening, dancing and singing along to the many Irish classics he would play for them.

Joe embraced life to the fullest and attracted so many with his spirited sense of humor and love of making people laugh. He will be fondly remembered for his infectious laughter, which left you smiling as he always laughed the loudest at his own jokes.

Beloved husband of Theresa (Conneely) O’Malley, the two married in 1976 and shared 44 years of loving marriage. He was the cherished father of Tricia Sullivan and her husband Stephen Sullivan of Quincy and Martin J. O’Malley of Weymouth.  He was the brother of the late Mary Graney and her late husband Joe, the late John O’Malley and his late wife Nora, the late Michael O’Malley and his late wife Kathleen, Bridie Rose and her late husband Alan, Peggy Barrett and her husband Bill, Anne Dolan and her late husband Jimmy, the late Pat O’Malley and his wife Barbara, the late Barbara Jackson and her late husband John, Kathleen Tate and her husband Des, Noreen DeBriae and her husband Dick, Colm O’Malley, his partner Denise Curran and his late wife Barbara, the late Martin O’Malley and his wife Anne McDermott Green and Eileen Durkan and her husband Michael.

Joe is survived by many loving nieces, nephews, extended family members and approximately a million friends.

In light of current circumstances surrounding Covid-19, all services for Joe will be private.  A private mass will be celebrated in St. Ann’s Church, Quincy, followed by private interment in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Dorchester.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Joe’s name may be sent to the Irish Cultural Center, 200 New Boston Drive, Canton, MA 02021, or at by clicking “donate”.

Traditionally, the funeral is an opportunity for the community to gather in support of one another. Although we cannot gather together with Joseph’s family at this time, friends may offer their support by sharing a special memory or message by clicking the send condolences to the online obituary.   

Prepared by Maureen Conway, Secretary,

The Donna Sheehan Reel

The Donna Sheehan Reel

How do you support a set dancer diagnosed with ALS?   If you are RHC member, Bill Black, you may compose a tune  to “cheer her up a bit as she goes through whatever she’s facing…I figured that, being a set dancer, a reel would do no harm. And I think that’s the title I’ll use for it!,” he said. And so he did.

Listen to it.    Play it.   Dance to it.   Share it.

We’d love to hear your version of it on our Facebook page.

Here’s the audio file and the sheet music.

Bill offers the following comments.

Years ago the great Kerry fiddler Padraig O Keeffe supplied a jig to Breandán Breathnach for his “Ceol Rinnce na hEireann” collection. We know it today as one of the “Kilfenora” jigs but O Keeffe’s name for it was “A Prayer is Better Than a Tune”.

With all due respect to Padraig, I’d like to suggest that “A Tune Can Be a Prayer” might be more appropriate.This is the reason for “Donna Sheehan’s Reel” (aka “A Reel Can Do No Harm”). The idea is that every time it’s played, we keep the lady in mind in the kindest way possible. 

It’s up to the individual musician to decide what degree of spirituality is involved  in this – my own inclination would be to “offer it up” (Catholics will understand this concept immediately!) Other musicians might have different ways of approaching this – as far as I’m concerned any way of showing love for someone they may never know, and of wishing to become part of her struggle, is good.

Music has a spiritual power we don’t always understand. I’m hoping that “Donna Sheehan’s Reel” can generate some of that power for this best of all causes.

Bill Black 2020

Prepared by Maureen Conway, Secretary, and Eileen McClelland, Webmaster

Helen foley, R.I.P.

Helen Foley,    R.I.P.

Sad news from Worcester for the Irish Trad Community

Helen Foley, a backbone of the Worcester Irish Trad community, passed away on December 20nd.   She battled cancer bravely with true grace for many years.

Tribute from the Community

Charlie O’Neill shared the following sentiments by email in telling us of Helen’s death,

“She meant so much to the traditional music scene here – but that was a mere fraction of her life’s contributions as a wife, mother, neighbor, friend.  She talked with, touched, worked with, and interacted with thousands – but each of us received the same acceptance, interest, joy, love, and commitment of this extraordinary person.   The world is truly a lesser place today. Helen came to the Fiddler’s Green session just two weeks ago!  A fighter right until the end!”

Obituary and Funeral Arrangements

Helen T. (O’Sullivan) Foley, 76, passed away peacefully on December 20, 2019 at her home, surrounded by her loving family.

She was the beloved wife of 51 years of Paul V. Foley.

Born in County Offaly, Ireland, daughter of Patrick and Ellen (Cronin) O’Sullivan, Helen was, first and foremost, the love of her husband’s life, a nana, and the mother of six children, who adored her. In her spare time, between sips of tea and home-baked goodies with butter, she was a devoted friend to many, near and far. Helen lent her talents of camaraderie, dance and song to the Irish Club, the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Worcester St. Patrick’s Parade Committee. Not busy enough, she was also a very active member of Christ the King Parish (and previously of St. John’s Parish in Canton) and the lead voice of its choir for so many masses, funerals, and weddings that her voice will likely echo there for years to come. Because of their boundless devotion to family, friends and community, Paul and Helen were named co-Grand Marshals of the St. Patrick’s Parade in 2014. In her work (yes, she did that too), she worked for Aer Lingus in Boston, was a teacher’s aid in the Worcester Public Schools and was one of the very first and most beloved waitresses at O’Connor’s Restaurant.

She leaves behind her husband, Paul V. Foley; her children, Siobhan Foley of Reading; Ciaran Foley and his wife, Elizabeth of Brookline; Aileen Foley and her partner, Joanna Woodman of Watertown; Brendan Foley and his wife, Kristen of Pawtucket, RI; Neil Foley and his wife, Sharon of Mt. Vernon, NH; and Paul C. Foley of Worcester; also her brother, Timothy P. O’Sullivan of Rhode, County Offaly and sister, Kathleen Armstrong of Braintree; eight grandchildren; many nieces, nephews, extended family members and friends.

Helen’s family would like to thank Dr. Erica L. Mayer, Elahe Salehi, NP, and the staff at Dana Farber for the exceptional care provided to her during her illness and to the kind and compassionate staff of Hospice VNA in Worcester.

Visiting hours will be held on Friday, December 27th from 4:00pm until 7:00pm at the Callahan, Fay & Caswell Life Celebration Home, 61 Myrtle St., Worcester. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:00am on Saturday, December 28th at Christ the King Church, 1052 Pleasant St., Worcester. Burial will follow in Saint Patrick’s Cemetery, Whitinsville. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be considered to the Worcester Hibernian Cultural Foundation, 19 Temple St., Worcester, MA 01604; The VNA Care, Fund Development Center, 199 Rosewood Dr., Suite 180, Danvers, MA 01923; or to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284.

Prepared by Maureen Conway, Secretary,

John “Jack” Conroy, R.I.P.

Jack  Conroy R.I.P.

Jack Conroy, traditional Irish musician

A long term  member of our Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann community and Comhaltas Hall of Fame inductee (2004), Jack Conroy,  talented musician,  gifted teacher and  active member and supporter of our organization,  died in Milton on  November 9th, 2019. Playing since the ’50’s, he has left a footprint in the Irish community locally and abroad.   We celebrate him.  We mourn him.  And we offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Gail, his family, and friends.

Active Comhaltas Participant

The Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley Branch has lost a friend and a true champion of traditional Irish music.  Jack played regularly at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton, participated in many Gaelic Roots events at Boston College and helped with our Music School in an administrative role until ill health prevented him from doing so.

Jack was an accomplished accordion player as well. Here we share a video of himself on box with Brendan Tonra on fiddle, and Helen Kisiel on keyboard playing two jigs, “Farewell to Kennedy” and “Willie’s Fiddle.” They explain that “Farewell to Kennedy” was written after the assassination of JFK and “Willie’s Fiddle” was a tune about Brendan’s father’s fiddle, which kept breaking and had to be fixed.

Hall of Fame Inductee in 2004

Jack Conroy  was honored for his contribution to Irish traditional music as a melodeon player.  Our former webmaster and active Comhaltas participant , Larry Tormey, wrote this article about him on his induction into our Comhaltas Hall of Fame.

Tributes From The Community

Jack Conroy was a versatile musician and a friend, mentor and teacher to many in the Greater Boston area. We will miss him.

Some have described Jack as “a treasure,” “a great teacher,” “inspiring,” “one of my favorite players,” “a wonderful player on the Irish-American D/C# box.” A fellow musician commented, “His father played the G melodeon and ran a well-known watering hole.  Jack learned his music from a number of musicians including Jerry O’Brien (who also taught Joe Derrane) and Jack Diamond.”  It is very likely that the accordion in this video is a Walters bought new in 1949, with help from Jack’s father and Jack Diamond.

There will be many tributes by those who mourn his passing. Kieran Jordan, on learnng of Jack’s death, shared the following sentiments on Facebook.

“Thinking of our friend Jack Conroy. These were sweet times and I cherish the memories. Céilís at Boston College, with Jack Conroy on the far left, Helen R Kisiel, Brendan Tonra, Michael Tubridy, Jimmy Noonan, Daniel Accardi, Seamus Connolly, and Shane Cornyn. I know that Sean Smith and Beth Sweeney were there too!”

“Jack was one of the first musicians I met when I came to Boston College as a student, and he always encouraged my old-style step dancing. Our conversations over the years were mostly about music, or his other passions — trips to Ireland, and cooking. In my darkest days with Lyme, Jack said he would pray for me, to have more courage. ‘With a positive attitude,’ he said, ‘we can adapt to anything’.  He was dealing with ALS when he said that. I think of this often. Thank you Jack, and may you rest in peace.”

Obituary and Funeral Arrangements

Jack’s wake will be held at Murphy  Furneral Home in Dorchester on Thursday, November 14thth from 4-7 P.M.  His funeral Mass will be at St. Margaret’s Church of St Teresa of Calcutta in Dorchester on Friday, November 15th, at 10 A.M.  Burial will be at the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Dorchester. His obituary follows:

Prepared by Maureen Conway, Secretary, and Eileen McClelland, Webmaster, November 13, 2019.

Jim Flynn, R.I.P.

Jim Flynn, R.I.P.

Jim Flynn RIP 2018This week we lost a long-standing member of our Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann community, Comhaltas Hall of Fame inductee (2007), Jim Flynn, a talented player of the  harmonica and Irish button accordion and an active member and supporter  of our organization.

Maureen Woods, in her email from the Danvers Set Dancers, put it beautifully in her notice, which I include below.  Maureen is an active set  dancer and assists Jim’s daughter, set dance teacher Eileen Dugal, with communications for her Thursday night classes in Danvers. Our hearts go out to Eileen and Jim’s family.

We Will Miss Him

“Sadly, I must let you know that the Irish music community has lost another great man. Jim Flynn passed away on April 12th. He was 98. An inductee into the Comhaltas Hall of Fame, he was still entertaining us with tune after tune on his harmonica up until a year ago. He was a true gentleman with a sharp mind and an amazing memory. That he reached just shy of 99 years is due entirely to the constant, loving and unwavering care of his daughter, Eileen Dugal. They shared a love of Irish music, dance and heritage and you could always catch the pride in Mr. Flynn’s eyes when he gazed upon her. I will miss him, his firm hand shake and his stories from long ago. I know we all will.”

Hall of Fame Inductee in 2007

Jim Flynn was honored for his contribution to Irish traditional music for accordion and harmonica. Read an earlier article by Larry Tormey on his induction into our Comhaltas Hall of Fame.

Funeral Arrangements

His wake will be held at the Stanton Funeral Home in Watertown on Thursday, April 19th, from 4-8 P.M. His funeral mass will be at St. Joseph’s in Belmont on Friday, April 20th, at 9:00 A.M. Burial will be at the National Cemetery in Bourne at 1:45 P.M. Contributions in lieu of flowers in his memory may be sent to Boston Comhaltas Music School.”

Memorial Contributions

We thank the family for naming our Boston Comhaltas Music School as an organization for contributions in Mr. Flynn’s memory.

Contributions in lieu of flowers  in Jim’s memory may be sent to Boston Comhaltas Music School c/o Michael Hickey, Treasurer, 100 Woodpecker Rd., Stoughton, MA 02072.

Here is his obituary.


Michael Connolly R.I.P.

The Reynolds Hanafin-Cooley Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann is saddened at the passing of longtime member Michael J. Connolly.

MICHAEL J. CONNOLLY’s Obituary in the Boston Globe follows:

CONNOLLY, Michael J. of Northport, Florida, formerly of Osterville and Watertown, died on September 1, 2016 at The Joy of Living II in Northport, Florida after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Born in Ireland, County Galway in 1938. He came to America in 1962, where he worked at BF Goodrich in Watertown where he had an industrial accident in November of 1966. In 1970 he went to work at John Hancock in Boston where he worked for 30 years as a computer operator until his retirement in August 2000.

Mike formed a band in the 1980’s called Mike Connolly’s CelticAires. He played at many weddings and parties for 3 decades and recorded 2 albums. Mike was inducted into the Irish Music Hall of Fame in 2002.

Devoted Husband of Trudy (Murphy) of 50 years. Beloved Father of Trish McHugh and her husband John, the late Michael Connolly and Maureen Connolly. Cherished Daideo of his granddaugher Grace McHugh. Beloved Son of the late Hannah (Heaphy) and John Connolly, brother to Julia Higgins, Paul Connolly and his wife Rose, cousin Bernadette Conneely, and the late Mary O’Toole, Ann McCann, John Connolly, Peter Connolly. Also survived by 18 nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Funeral Mass on Monday, September 19, 2016 at 11:00 am at St. Jerome’s Parish, 632 Bridge Street, North Weymouth, MA. 02191. Burial will be private. Donations in Mike’s memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association .

Read a little more about Mike’s music from this 2013 Facebook post about O’Shea’s Old Inn Sunday night session.

And this page shows a couple of photos of Mike playing with other Irish musicians in Florida.


Annie Mullen RIP Long Time Branch Member

Annie Mullen, R.I.P.

We are saddened at the passing of Annie Mullen, long time member of the Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. We extend our deepest condolences to family and friends.

Annie Mullen RIP July 28 2016
Annie Mullen,long time member of the Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley Branch of CCE

Annie’s husband Coleman (Coley) holds the position of Treori na Gaeilge for our branch (Irish Officer).

Funeral Arrangements

Friends and relatives are invited to visiting hours Monday 3-8 PM in the Murphy Funeral Home, 1020 Dorchester Avenue.  Dorchester (directions). A funeral Mass will be in St. Mark Church, Tuesday, August 2, at 12 noon.


MULLEN Annie M. (McDonagh). In Braintree, formerly of Dorchester and Co. Galway, Ireland, July 28, 2016. Beloved wife of Coleman. Loving mother of Angela and her husband Kieran Kelly of Braintree, Aine and her husband Martin McDonagh of Quincy, and Caroline Mullen of Braintree. Sister of Maureen Mulkerrin of England, Colimin McDonagh of Braintree, Dudley McDonagh of Dorchester, Teresa Delaney of Ireland, and the late Paraic McDonagh. Devoted grandmother of Ciara, Claire, Annie, Nora, and Michael Kelly, Roisin and Fiona McDonagh. Survived by many nieces and nephews.

James A. Murphy & Son Funeral Home
1020 Dorchester Ave
Dorchester, MA 02125

Obituary and tributes:

Joe Derrane (R.I.P.)

Joe Derrane, RIP

The Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley Branch of Comhaltas wishes to extend its sincerest condolences to the family of Joe Derrane (Hall of Fame 1998) on his recent passing.  He was truly one of the legends of traditional Irish music in America and throughout the world.

Joe Derrane East Durham 2005 (image sourced from Wikipedia)
Joe Derrane, Irish-American button accordionist (image sourced from Wikipedia)









Early Years

Born and raised in Boston and while still a teenager Joe was playing his 2-row D/C# accordion in the various Irish dance halls at Dudley Street in Roxbury.  He became widely recognized for his highly ornamental and spirited playing.

Return to Music Scene

After a long hiatus and on the persistent urging of the well-known Celtic music critic Earle Hitchner, Joe began his return to traditional music culminating in his appearance at the 1994 Irish Folk Festival at Wolf Trap in Virginia.  His performance was met with such great acclaim that Joe began his now famous second career.


He toured throughout Europe, played with The Chieftains at Symphony Hall in Boston, appeared many times on radio and television, and received a Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.  In 1998 Joe was inducted into the Comhaltas Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding contributions to traditional Irish music.

Funeral Arrangements

Joe died on July 22nd 2016 at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, MA.  His funeral will be from the Hurley Funeral Home, 134 So. Main St. (Rt. 28), Randolph on Friday, July 29th at 9:15am followed by a funeral mass at St. Mary’s Church in Randolph at 10am. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend. Visiting hours Thursday, July 28th from 4-8pm. Interment St. Mary’s Cemetery, Randolph. In lieu of flowers donations can be sent to Homes for Our Troops, 6 Main St., Taunton, MA 02780.

[Barbara Davis]