2008/Ireland (52 min)
Director: Ken Lynam
Tommy McCarthy in person

plays with The Irish Pub

HANDING DOWN THE TUNES covers the life of Clare born musician Tommy McCarthy, beginning with his early days growing up on the family farm near Kilmichil, and learning to play music at the age of 9. A turning point came when he first heard the great piper, Leo Rowsome, on the radio one night.

The film also  covers Tommy’s years in London, where he emigrated in the early 1950’s. There he mixed with some of the leading musicians of his generation and was a central figure in the development of Irish traditional music, as well as handing on his musical talent to his four children, Jacqueline, Bernadette, Marion and Tom Jnr.  He was a founder member of Na Piobairi Uilleann, helped set up the London branch of the organisation, and  took part in numerous Comhaltas tours and events, including the first ever Comhaltas tour to the US in 1972

When all his children left London to settle in the west of Ireland, it was inevitable that Tommy and wife Kathleen would return also.

The final part of the film covers Tommy’s life back in Clare, and his participation in Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, until his untimely death in 2000.

Tommy’s life encapsulates a number of themes important to our understanding of the development of traditional music in the past 50 years -  the role of music in rural Ireland in the 1940’s and 50’s, the impact of emigration on the music, the handing on of a musical tradition..

Tommy was equally at home on pipes, concertina and whistle.  His contribution to Irish music is acknowledged in the film by many of Ireland’s celebrated musicians –Martin Hayes, Noel Hill, Joe Burke, Paddy Glackin and others,  who all pay tribute to this inspiring man and musician.

Q & A to after screening

Closing party at
The Burren