12:52pm | Tue 17 Oct 2023
Keeping tradition alive is important to feel close to home when you’re far away, and for Irish immigrants in Chicago, music has been a huge part of this. Richie Piggott, a Corkman by birth (but a Kerryman by blood!) has been living in the US for 25 years, working, by day, as a food scientist with Kerry Group. However, although he doesn’t play himself, music is in the bones. His brother Charlie is a member of De Danann and both his parents were musical. His father John, from Dooks near Glenbeigh, played accordion, and his mother Margaret, a Flannery from Dingle, and her family, were all heavily involved with marching bands.
Richie has been collecting music and manuscripts all his life and he has contributed several historical recordings and manuscripts to the Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA) and to the Piper’s Club, Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU) in Dublin, Ireland.
For over a decade now, his focus has been on the history of the lives and music of Irish immigrants in Chicago and the surrounding area over the past hundred years. In his book, Cry of a People Gone, he has written a musical history, but also a social history, of the Irish immigrants who made Chicago their home since the 1920s. He shines a light on the ordinary people, not the big names, the ones who were formative in creating the Irish Musicians Association of America and the first Fleadh Cheoil in America.
Reviewing the book for the Irish Echo, Daniel Neely called it “brilliant, amazing and substantial”, adding that “Ultimately, this is a truly outstanding book that every fan of Irish music should own, especially those with a connection to Chicago.”
The review itself is substantial and gives a detailed breakdown of what to expect in each chapter. You can read it here.
Featuring a foreword from longtime director of the Irish Traditional Music Archive Nicholas Carolan, and full of photos, in a coffee table size large format, it’s the perfect Christmas gift for anyone with an interest in Irish traditional music or connections to Chicago.
You can order Cry of a People Gone from www.richiepiggott.com, where you can also view manuscripts from Richie’s archive. The book will also be on sale at Dingle Lit, where Richie will be speaking on Saturday 18th November in An Díseart at 1.30pm. Reserve your ticket here.