James McCafferty Quintette

(L to R), Jim McCafferty, James MacCafferty, Don MacCafferty, Jack McCafferty, Charlie Doherty, Johnny Duffy
James McCafferty Quintette
James McCafferty Quintette

In an interview for Radio Foyle with Frank Gallagher, James recounted how his musical association with his friend and namesake, James McCafferty, began.

By the 1940s Jim, as he was known locally, had established himself as one of the finest interpreters of Irish Airs in these islands. He had recorded many of the popular Irsh songs of the time, and his distinctive baritone voice was very familar to regular listeners of the wireless. 

In the Londonderry Feis of 1921 Jim had won so many cups and trophies that he needed a handcart to carry them home to Magazine Street. As a result of this success he became a pupil of the noted singer and teacher Harry Plunket Greene, who had adjudicated at the Feis the previous year.

In 1942 Jim was invited to do a series of monthly broadcasts for the NORTHERN IRELAND HOME SERVICE. He was rehearsing with James for the programme which they decided to call Irish Half Hour. However, the political powers were having none of this and the programme was re-christened ULSTER HALF HOUR. This made the selction of appropriate music for the series more problematic. 

James take up the story: "I suggested to him how would it do if he sang accompanied by a male quartet. I did all the arrangements - now they weren't good, and I accompanied him too. And during the war we appeared on 'Workers' Playtime' and in Gallagher's Factory and so on."

The Quintette accompanied Jim until 1946. Many of these arrangements are contained in a book in  James' impeccably elegant manuscript, and we can see that James was, as ever,  modest in his appraisal of his contribution. The arrangements are very characteristic; musically sound, clever, frequently witty and always true to the spirit of the piece; and tunes such as Kitty of Coleraine and The Mountains of Mourne take on renewed freshness at James's hand.