Welcome to the new home page for ‘I Looked East and I Looked West’ – a celebration of the life and music of Julia Clifford.
In 2019, myself and a group of friends who had all known Julia when she lived in East Anglia, organised a one-off celebratory festival in Stowmarket, Suffolk, UK over the weekend of 26th-28th April. We hoped this event would bring together those who knew Julia in Ireland, London and East Anglia, as well as many musicians who were influenced and inspired by her playing, and it’s fair to say it exceeded everyone’s expectations!
As part of that event, I put together an exhibition of photographs and ephemera, which we hoped to take over to Ireland in 2020. However, with the global pandemic, this is clearly not going to happen for a while, so it seemed a good idea to put the contents of the exhibition here on the website. I still hope to take the physical exhibition to the communities in Kerry around Julia’s homeplace in the future, and tell some of the stories behind the pictures in a presentation. The photographs are organised into five albums and there is also a brief biography with links to recordings, obituaries and other ephemera. You can access these from the drop-down menu or the square icons at the foot of each page.
If you have any further information about any of the photographs, please do get in touch and let me know, and if you would like to contribute any photos or items to the exhibition, I’d love to hear from you!
Who was Julia Clifford?
Julia, née Murphy (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 in the late 1970s, they moved 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.
Flash news 30 April 2020
The RTÉ radio programme ‘The Rolling Wave’ is broadcasting two programmes dedicated to Julia Clifford. The first of the two programmes, about ‘The Star Above the Garter’ album is archived here and the second, focussing on Julia herself, is scheduled to be broadcast at 9pm on Sunday 3rd May and will be available on ‘The Rolling Wave’ archive after that. The second programme includes an interview with me, carried out at the 2019 Willie Clancy Summer School.
Huge thanks are due to all who helped in anyway, and I apologise to those I have inevitably missed off this list.
Members of Julia’s family: John Clifford, Billy Clifford, Eileen G. O’Neill, Kathleen Fitzgerald Gallioto, Mary Hackett and Paul Willard for photos and information.
… and friends: Reg Hall, Derek Schofield, Keith Summers, Peta Webb, Alan Ward, Hugh Miller, George & Eileen Monger, Hageneth Morris, Doc Rowe, Chris Morley, Pete Parson, Alan Block, John Webb, Caroline & Michael Kilbane, Nigel Towse, Patrick Wiener, Maggie Hunt, John Reynolds, Pete Cooper, Brian Shuel, John Harrison, Ken Ricketts, Matt Cranitch, P.J. Teahan, Joe Thoma, John Reidy, Antaine Ó Faracháin, Terry Moylan, William Hammond, Fintan Valleley, John Coakley, Derek Speirs, Stephen Chambers, Aileen Roantree, Séamus Connolly, Jill Freedman, Patrick Cavanagh, Julie Henigan and Tes Slominski and many more who freely shared their memories and anecdotes about Julia.
Photograph albums – click on an icon below, which will take you through to a gallery of photos, each of which can be enlarged to view individually. We have watermarked many of the images, as they do not belong to us, and a few are copyright to professional photographers. If you would like to use any of the images, please get in touch. It’s a good idea to start with the biography page.