James Morrison, later nicknamed "The Professor", was born in County Sligo in 1893. His father was a farmer and a carpenter, and James grew up immersed in the great fiddle and flute playing tradition of his home parish and in the wider community of Sligo county. He participated in the numerous house dances around the community, and at age seventeen was employed by the Gaelic League to teach the Connacht (the western province of Ireland) style of step dancing at their language school in County Mayo. Morrison sailed to America in 1915 and settled in New York after a brief stay in Boston. He began to enter fiddle competitions, and won the New York Feis in 1918. Morrison also taught fiddle and dancing to other Irish and American born musicians, among them Paddy Killoran (also from Sligo), who would quickly develop into one of the greatest fiddlers of the time period. Morrison made a number of recordings in the 1920's and 1930's, many of which found their way back to Ireland and influenced musicians still in the homeland.
Paddy Killoran has long been considered alongside James Morrison and Michael Coleman as a prime example of the pure Sligo style of fiddle playing. This style is essentially the best known fiddling style within Irish traditional music, and its influence is clearly evident in the playing of contemporary masters such as Kevin Burke and John Carty. Paddy Killoran came from the same parish as James Morrison, the former being ten years younger and for some time a fiddle student of the elder Morrison once the two settled in The Bronx. While Killoran's memory has lived in the shadow of Morrison and Coleman for a number of years, Killoran was a phenomenal fiddler in his own right, and his unique style has long influenced younger generations of Irish traditional fiddle players.
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James and Paddy music