Clipping from the Freeman's Journal announcing a 1904 concert featuring James Joyce James Joyce: Music in the Novels and Poems

James Joyce Quote
You've no idea the joy it gives me to hear you sing again — the nostalgia and pure Joycean atmosphere you create...
James Joyce Unquote

[ Peggy Jordan ]

Their Exagmination Round Our Factification for Incamination of Music from the Works of James Joyce

::  Jolas  ::  Jordan  ::  Bowen  ::  Connolly  ::  Pearce  ::  Ellmann  ::

From a Dubliner

Exterior of Dublin Arts Club building

Since its founding in 1907, the Dublin United Arts Club (which has included among its members such luminaries as Padraic Colum and W.B. Yeats) has been a home away from home for practitioners of all artistic disciplines.

For the Joyce Centennial celebrations in 1982, the performers traveled to Ireland to present their music recital under the kind auspices of the Arts Club.

Dublin United Arts Club Function Room

The musicians stayed as guests of the Arts Club, situated on Upper Fitzwilliam Street — "in the heart of the Hibernian metropolis." The concert was given in the Club's main function room, an intimate Georgian masterpiece with dividing doors and marble fireplaces.

In a note dated April 28 of that year, one of the officers of the Club, the late (and great) Peggy Jordan, expressed her anticipation of the upcoming concert, which she had seen performed once before in 1977:

You've no idea the joy it gives me to hear you sing again — the nostalgia and pure Joycean atmosphere you create & the magnificent quality of voice.

— Peggy Jordan

Geragh in Sandycove

The Art Club's president at this time, by the way, was none other than Michael Scott (1905-1989), actor, artist, and the most important architect of the 20th century in Ireland, whose firm was responsible for the new Abbey Theatre, the modernist Dublin Central Bus Station (Busáras), and other notable projects. In 1954 he purchased the Martello tower in Sandycove, a structure made famous by Joyce in Ulysses, intending it for a museum. Geragh, the seaside home he built on land adjoining the tower and so-called "Forty Foot" bathing place, is distinguished for its decks, railings, portholes, and other maritime elements which Scott incorporated into the design.

Peggy Jordan
1918 - 2000

Portrait of Peggy Jordan

Portrait of Peggy Jordan
by Liam Delaney
[click to enlarge]

Peggy Jordan was an energetic Dubliner who was generous of spirit. She was renowned for hosting parties in her Kenilworth Sq. home, where she encouraged some of the country's finest singers and traditional musicians. Tall and elegant, she had an ebullient presence.

She was born in Dublin, one of eight children of George and Áine (neé Greene) Heron. Her father ran a motorcycle business, while her mother had been a member of Inghinidhe na hÉireann and came from a strong Republican family.

She grew up in south Dublin, attending Louise Gavan Duffy's Scoil Bríde, in Earlsfort Terrace. She then worked in insurance and married Tom Jordan, whose Northern linen manufacturing background enhanced her interest in crafts. Tom Jordan was 17 years her senior, and he was a quiet, retiring man. She celebrated life and needed no excuse to create a sense of occasion. She sought to fill their home with an eclectic spectrum of people, preferably able to sing or play a musical instrument.

She played a significant role in the ballad boom of the early 1960s. It was while Liam Clancy was staying at her home that she was asked to bring musicians out to the Abbey Tavern in Howth. This was to be the start of a run of ballad sessions at the venue and the launch pad for the ballad boom.

She provided a platform for musicians, such as members of The Dubliners and the Clancy Brothers, by putting on midnight concerts in the old Grafton Cinema. In Bill Meek's book about The Chieftains, there's a marvelous photo of her daughter Mary playing spoons with a youthful Barney McKenna on banjo and piper Paddy Moloney.

She dabbled in theatre and appeared in the film Ryan's Daughter. She taught ballroom dancing and had a wide repertoire of songs. She attended ballad sessions regularly up to near the end of her life. She died on January 9, 2000. She is survived by her children Mary, James, Ian, Dara, Louise, and Iseult.

Obituary adapted from RamblingHouse   [View source]

Kevin McDermott is not the only musician that Peggy Jordan encouraged. One of the most notable musical groups in Ireland that she helped form into a real band was none other than The Dubliners.

Once Upon a Time on an Island in the Atlantic Ocean....
Four handsome young lads met in O'Donoghue's Pub in Merrion Row in Dublin and decided to play music together. Their names were Ronnie Drew, Barney McKenna, Luke Kelly and Ciarán Burke. The year was 1962. They played in O'Donoghue's for their drinks. Then came Peggy Jordan and formed them into a group. She introduced the four bearded lads to the Abbey Tavern in Howth and later they moved to the Royal Hotel across the road where they played happily every Saturday night and were announced as "The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group". Ronnie was not really happy about the name, because it placed too much responsibility on his shoulders. So, arguing over a better name for the group became a regular thing in the back of taxis on the way to a gig. One night, when they were on the way to Howth, Luke suggested that they should be called after the title of the book he was reading then. It was James Joyce's DUBLINERS.
— from "A Short History of the Dubliners"   [View source]

And (if you can read German) there's more on Peggy Jordan and her involvement in the Irish "ballad boom" in an article entitled "And It's No! Nay! Never! No Nay Never No More!" at the FolkWorld Web site.

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