Michael Kennedy was born in Flaskagh,
County Galway in 1900. He got hold of a one-row melodeon in the
key of G and remained loyal to the instrument for the rest of his
life. Grey Larsen reports he used to say "There
was never anybody as crazy for a melodeon as I was."
In 1923, he moved to Covington, KY, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati,
OH, working for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, and lived there
until his death in 1978. He played the music he learned in Galway whenever
Late in his life he helped fuel a revival of interest in Irish music in
the Cincinnati area, a revival that eventually led to the Riley
School of Irish Music and Craobh Riley, CCÉ. One of his great followers is
Grey Larsen, who at age 18 in 1973 first met Kennedy and played with him
as often as he could. Grey has recorded several tunes learned from Kennedy,
and included a few cuts of Kennedy's own playing on his CDs. Kennedy recorded
an LP in the 70s which is out of print, but well worth searching for.
His strong influence on Irish music throughout the region, due in part
to Grey Larsen, led the CCÉ branch in Knoxville, TN, to chose the
name the Michael Kennedy
Branch in his honor.