Michael Gorman (1895-1970)
The great fiddler Micheal Gorman's legacy is assured by the fact that he composed one of the most commonly played tunes in the Irish tradition The Mountain Road.
The following information was sourced from http://www.ramblinghouse.org/2009/07/michael-gorman/
Michael Gorman was born in County Sligo in 1895. He lived first in Doocastle, and then Achonry. His mother, Anne McGibbon, was a singer from Derry and his father, a small farmer, played the flute and the melodeon.
When he was young, he was taken care of by foster parents who sent him for fiddle lessons to James Gannon, who also taught Michael Coleman.
Willie Clancy used to tell the story about the master and pupil when Gorman was aged about nine: “Gannon wrote out the tunes in his own system of notation on pieces of card. Slowly these cards piled up under Michael’s bed and he still could not hitch onto the fiddle. One day Gannon asked him to play The Green Mountain. Of course he could not, and Gannon broke the fiddle across Michael’s head. He still has the scar.”
Gorman formed a ceili band in Tubbercurry and later settled in London in 1939 where he worked on the railway. Although he played little over the next ten years, he met up with collectors Peter Kennedy and Ewan McColl who gave him work.
He was introduced to the singer Margaret Barry (pictured right with Michael Gorman*) when his ceili band was featured by Alan Lomax on BBC in 1953. He gave up his job as a railway porter at Liverpool Street station and they formed the famous duo which lasted over many pub sessions and recordings until the singer returned to Ireland in the 1960s.
They held a residency in the Bedford Arms in Camden Town. He was prominent in the Irish-music-in-exile scene in London in the 1950s and ’60s and Ewan McColl brought him and Willie Clancy together for a recording session in his Croydon home in 1955 and the result was the album Irish Jigs, Reels and Hornpipes.
Peter Kennedy tells of a friend travelling on the boat train to Ireland in the early 1950s who heard Michael playing the fiddle. He had lost all his personal belongings in a suitcase at the station and was “playing himself back to happiness.”
He can also be heard playing tunes on most Margaret Barry albums, most notably The Mantle so Green. He is credited with the composition of the reel The Mountain Road. There has been some renewed interest in his recordings in recent years by young fiddle players seeking out rarer styles. He died in 1970.
Michael Gorman, the Sligo Champion. A musical biography, by Reg Hall. Topic
Irish Jigs, Reels and Hornpipes, Michael Gorman and Willie Clancy, 1956, Folkways.
Her Mantle so Green, Margaret Barry and Michael Gorman, Topic.
Irish Music in London Pubs, Margaret Barry, Michael Gorman and others, Folkways
Irish Night Out, Margaret Barry, Michael Gorman, The Dubliners and others.