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Willie Clancy

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  • Born: Miltown Malbay, Ireland
  • Years Active: 1950s, 1960s, 1970s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

A master of the uillean pipes, Willie Clancy is remembered for his rich mixture of reels, slow airs, slip jigs and mazurkas. A regular performer at summer Irish music sessions in his hometown of Miltown Malbay, from 1957 until 1972, he spent countless hours playing with such influential Irish musicians as Christy Moore, Paul Brady and Paddy Moloney, later with the Chieftains. The son of a flute and concertina player, Clancy was weaned on the tunes of blind piper Garret Barry (1847-1900). Playing the tin whistle from the age of five, Clancy became mesmerized when he heard piper Johnny Doran performing at a local racetrack. Convincing Doran to teach him to play the instrument, he advanced quickly. Acquiring a practice set in 1938, he placed first in the piping event at the Oireachtas nine years later. Although he joined the Tulla Ceili Band in 1947, Clancy did not remain in the group for long. Moving briefly to Dublin, in the early-50s, he became involved with the musical scene centered around John Potts's home. Continuing on to England, to work as a carpenter, Clancy played with such transplanted Irish musicians as Bobby Casey, Seamus Ennis and Mairtin Byrnes. He returned to Miltown Malbay shortly the death of his father in 1957. He remained in the village until January 1973, when he died in a hospital in Galway. In his memory, an annual summer music school was established in Miltown Malbay.