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P.J. McCall, Writer, Poet, Musician, 1861-1919

Tonight I dropped in on a local History Society talk on the poet and writer P.J. McCall. McCall was born in 1861 in Patrick Street in Dublin (The Liberties). When young he attended the Christian Brothers' Schools in Synge St. where he was well grounded in the Irish language and in Irish history. His family were prosperous merchants specialising in groceries and spirits. McCall eventually inherited the business from his father and remained in Dublin throughout his life.  As well as being a writer, McCall was a good musician. He was able to transcribe melodies by ear and so help to preserve them for future generations.

However, he also had close links with Rathangan near us here in County Wexford where his mother’s family (Newports) were based. He spent many summer holidays and weekends in Rathangan and regarded these days as among the happiest of his life and collected numerous melodies from Wexford musicians. Out of over 200 works,  Boolavogue, Kelly the Boy from Killane, and Follow Me Up to Carlow, are probably the best known and have become folk music standards.