I Looked East and I Looked West

Welcome to the home page for ‘I Looked East and I Looked West’ – a celebration of the life and music of Julia Clifford, to be held in Stowmarket, Suffolk, UK on 26th-28th April 2019.

We hope this event will bring together those who knew Julia in Ireland, London and East Anglia, as well as a younger generation of musicians influenced and inspired by her playing.

Who was Julia Clifford?

Julia (1914-1997),  was a wonderful fiddle player born into a musical family in Lisheen, Co. Kerry, in an area known as Sliabh Luachra (the rushy mountains), renowned for its poets and traditional musicians. Through seminal recordings made in the 1970s, Julia and her brother Denis Murphy helped define what is now a well-known genre of Irish traditional music.

Julia and her husband John Clifford, also a musician, had been living in London since the 1940s, but shortly after the recordings came out, they moved out to Thetford in Norfolk, and as far as publically available information goes, they all but disappear from view. However, this period, and especially after 1981 when John died, was actually a busy period of music-making for Julia, with a younger generation of enthusiasts and a new audience on the English folk scene.

There’s more information and links on my Research page. Anyone with any memories or information about Julia, however small, is very welcome to contact me.

Why Stowmarket?

Julia visited Stowmarket and surrounding villages on many occasions, having close friends here and many fans. Some of us still get together and play her tunes in pub sessions in the town, and this is where the idea for a commemorative event was born. Stowmarket has a good range of small venues and halls, pubs and eating establishments. Over the years we’ve built up a good reputation for organising traditional music events here and have good relationships with lots of organisations and businesses within this friendly market town.

Stowmarket is on the main rail line between London and Norwich and has links to Cambridge and the main east coast line at Peterborough. Accommodation in the town is a bit limited, but there are plenty of options within a short drive.

What will be happening at the event?

Well there’s a fantastic line-up of guests who are all very keen to be involved! Already confirmed are:  Julia’s son Billy Clifford (flute), Matt Cranitch (fiddle), Jackie Daly (accordion), Bryan O’Leary (accordion), Gerry Harrington (fiddle), Peter Browne (uillean pipes) Jerry O’Reilly (set dance) Aoife Ni Chaoímh and Paudie O’Connor (fiddle and accordion)- and the latest addition: Máire o’Keeffe (fiddle). Other invitations to both Irish and English guests are in the pipeline too and will be confirmed soon.

We’ve also had confirmation from the Irish Traditional Music Archive that they will be coming to record the event for their archives, which is great news!

Events include concerts, talks and presentations, workshops, set dancing, CD launch, photographic exhibition,  archive film show, pub session trail and a visit to Julia’s grave.


Tickets will be on sale from 21st November 2018 and given the level of interest already, we expect to sell out in advance, so please don’t leave it till the last minute! Tickets will be sold directly through this website only.

Further information, including ticket prices, accommodation and transport options, can be found on the I Looked East and I Looked West information page.


If you would like to make a donation to help this special one-off event happen, that would be really great!  The organisers are a not-for-profit voluntary group – we’re all experienced event organisers but without any big sponsorhip behind us, and the costs have already started coming in. Fortunately, so have the donations!  You will be in some  good company if you are able to support us at this stage!

You can now make a donation through PayPal (please ignore the option for recurring payment on the next page). For any other methods, please email us.