This is a popular session tune in many places, but it’s not played much in KC area sessions. It is also called “Anything for Johnjo” and “Anything for John Joe.” It is played in a set “Johnny When You Die > Anything for John-Joe” on the Denis Murphy (1910-1974) & Julia Clifford (1914-1997) The Star Above the Garter (1969). Further, according to Drew Beisswenge’s book/CD with Connie O’Connell entitled Irish Fiddle Music from Counties Cork and Kerry (2012) the west Kerry accordion player Johnny O’Leary (1923-2004), from Gneevgullia in Kerry, used to pair this tune with “Johnny When You Die,” calling them “The Sliabh Luachra Reels,” which seems to be an homage to Murphy-Clifford. Still, though it might seem unclear whether O’Leary picked up the set from Murphy and Clifford or the other way round, it is far more probable that neither is true. The reason is that O’Leary was a student of Padraig O’Keeffe, as were Denis Murphy and his sister Julia Clifford. While I have no interest in complicating things, it needs to be said that when ice cream sales in New York went up, so did the New York murder rate. Though some people may have thought that this means eating ice cream make one more murderous, there is another slightly more reasonable explanation. That explanation is that both events have a common cause. Higher temperatures in summer increase both the number of ice cream sales and, as people get grumpy when hot, the number of murders. So, long story short, it is more likely that the common cause of the set “Johnny When You Die > Anything for John-Joe” is Padraig O’Keeffe. Sometimes we have to go a long way in order to cover a short distance.
O’Leary was one of Ireland’s most famous accordion players, and from the well-known but fairly undefined Sliabh Luachra region, which straddles the border area of Cork, Kerry, and Limerick. Now, a bronze life-size statue of Johnny O’Leary is in Killarney Town Centre, Co. Kerry, unveiled on April 28, 2007. His birthplace is not far from Knocknagree and close to the emotional center of Sliabh Luachra, that is Dan O’Connell’s Pub, which O’Connell opened in 1957. While there are punter’s pubs where musicians sometimes show up, Dan O’Connell’s was a musician’s pub, where punters would show up and walk away with stories to tell.
Dan O’Connell (1921-2009) was a publican, cyclist, teacher, performer, and a favorite custodian of Sliabh Luachra music. There is now a Dan O’Connell music weekend in Knocknagree. O’Leary played in Dan O’Connell’s Pub with Denis Murphy (1910-1974) the night before Murphy died; and O’Leary writes “Twas a Sunday night and he never played better. He gave me two reels that nobody in the pub had ever heard before. I asked him for them and his last words were: ‘I’ll give them to [you] the next night. . .’ but I saw him no more” (Johnny O’Leary, My Life and Music). Dan O’Connell’s Pub in Knocknagree closed in 1997, after forty years of steady music.
Colin “Hammy” Hamilton (b. 1953) is a flute player and flute maker. Originally from Belfast, he set up his flute shop in the village of Cuil Aodha, Co. Cork. On Hammy Hamilton’s “The Moneymusk” he makes a number of apparent errors on his recordings list: “Anything for John Joe” is listed as “Little Bag Of Spuds,” “The Fair Haired Lass” is listed as “The Dark Haired Lass,” and “Miss Thornton” is listed as “The House on the Hill.” It’s possible he learned the tunes by these names, but more likely that the mix-up is the result of some shade of human error attributable to whoever wrote the liner notes.
For the ABC click Anything for JohnJoe
Anything for JohnJoe, slow (fiddle)
Anything for JohnJoe, med-fast (fiddle & guitar)
Anything for JohnJoe, the dots