Arthur Warren Darley

Arthur Warren Darley (1873–1929) was an Irish fiddle player, composer, music teacher and examiner as well as a traditional music archivist.


Arthur Warren Darley was born in Dún Laoghaire and first lived in Silchester Road. He was a grandnephew of poet George Darley. His father Henry Warren Darley had converted to Catholicism. In 1923 he purchased a house in Northumberland Road, Dublin. His family was musical both in traditional and classical. His grandfather played the uilleann pipes and fiddle, his father played fiddle and viola and Arthur played fiddle and piano. Arthur was playing the fiddle well at eight years of age. Later he was a fellow in The College of Violinists, London, professor of Leinster School of Music & Drama, director of the municipal school of music, and was deeply interested in Irish music. He met Patrick Joseph McCall who spent much of his time in Wexford. Together they collected old tunes and Ossian Publications published them.

Arthur was also a church organist who spent some time as a Church of Ireland organist near Bruckless, County Donegal, where he spent some time with the great Donegal fiddler, John Doherty. His son Arthur Darley Jnr was a guitarist who featured on some early recordings of Irish music.[1]

It was Patrick Joseph McCall who composed the famous Wexford Ballads and Arthur Darley helped put Irish airs to them – "The Boys of Wexford", "Boolavogue and "Kelly the Boy from Killanne".[2]

He was president of the Irish Music Club and as one of the founders of the Feis Ceoil Association.[3] the Arthur Darley Memorial Prize is awarded to violinists at the annual music festival. He was the first musical director of the Abbey Theatre following its foundation in 1904 in which he played an active part.

Arthur Darley: pen and ink drawing by Grace Gifford. "Darley, a well-known Irish musician, played before performances and between acts, standing at the edge of the stage in front of the curtain." [4]

Darley supported the nationalist cause in the War of Independence and Bruckless House provided shelter for republican leaders.[5]

Seán T. O'Kelly who would become Ireland's second president wrote on his death in The Nation.[6] about his contribution to Ireland and Irish music.

As a result of his involvement in the war of independence, and nationalism (he performed at many Easter 1916 commemorations in the Theatre Royal), an obituary for Arthur Warren Darley featured in the Republican newspaper An Phoblacht in 1930.[7]

His obituary also featured in The Musical Times in February 1930.[8]

The English poet Leonard Strong wrote a poem about Arthur Darley.

Trinity College Dublin library contains the archives Arthur Darley's personal and family papers.[9]



"The Darley & McCall Collection of Irish Music", Darley & McCall, Ossian Publications Limited. 1914.


  1. Arhtur Darley Irish Traditional Music List IRTRAD-L Archives posting
  2. Cómhrá na dTonn, a Book and CD About Irish Traditional Music
  3. From the biographical notes in the Darley & McCall Collection published by Ossian in 1984, but originally published c. 1914 under the title 'The Feis Ceoil Collection of Irish Airs'
  4. National Library of Ireland Nuacht, Number 14: Winter 2003, page 3, "Abbey Theatre Centenary"
  5. Bruckless House, Co. Donegal Website. Archived July 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. The Nation - 28th of December 1929
  7. "An Appreciation of Irelands Gifted Musician" by Gerard Crofts, An Phoblacht, Saturday 11th of January, 1930
  8. Obituary: Arthur Darley, The Musical Times, Vol. 71, No. 1044 (Feb. 1, 1930), pp. 175-175
  9. Trinity College Dublin library. Darley family: estate, family and personal papers including those of Arthur Darley, musician, 18th-20th centuries (MS 10900)
  10. Arthur Darley's Swedish Jig, Tunebook, Leeds University Website.

External links

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