Any news of progress of the CD reissue?
Last I spoke with Jackie Small, one of the folks working on this CD project at ITMA, it is still being worked on by others there. He was not sure of the schedule of completion.
However, I can give you some news on your question that started this thread:"I've just been lstening to an RTE recording of a programme on Mullally who emigrated and recorded in the 1920s in the States. It mentioned that his concertina had been sent to London to Wheatstone for repairs and returned to his family in Philadelphia, where it was forgotten in an attic. He must have gone on his travels and never picked it up (unless it was sent to them after his death in 1959 (in an 'institution ' in the South). Has anyone any idea of where it is now?"
A few months ago I heard from a Mullaly family member who was looking for more information on William Mullaly. After giving him what information I had, I learned that his brother-in-law had the concertina mentioned by Harry Bradshaw in the liner notes to the Viva Voce cassette of the 1980s....that instrument is a sort of holy grail for any Mullaly fan, as you can imagine, so I made every effort to contact that brother-in-law.
I did contact him, a very nice man who does not play music but is well aware of his well-known great-uncle. We spoke for some time, and at the end of that conversation I realized that the instrument Harry Bradshaw spoke about as being William Mullaly's concertina was in fact not one that belonged to William. It belonged to William's brother Michael. Here is the story.
First, the instrument is a wooden-ended two row Wheatstone, serial number 31148. I established that it is in CG pitch (the great-nephew played it for me over the phone).The only known photo of William with a concertina shows him holding a metal
-ended one that appears to be a Wheatstone Linota....so something already seems awry.
In the original cardboard box that holds the instrument there were three items:
1) a letter from Harry Bradshaw dated 1984, so we know this is the instrument Harry saw.
2) A letter from Wheatstone's to MJ Mullaly dated 30 November 1926 saying that the instrument he ordered was ready to ship (the price was 10 pounds Sterling). That was sent to Michael Mullaly, not William. Michael was William's brother (MJM vs WJM) at Michael's address. Moreover, William started recording in March of 1926, before
this instrument was even built.
3) a letter from Wheatstone's, also to MJ Mullaly, dated April 15, 1929, saying that the repairs were finished. THis was the letter quoted by Harry in the cassette liner notes.
I think Harry misread the words MJ
Mullaly, written in Wheatstone's script, for WJ
Mullaly; in script, that is easy to do. Michael Mullaly's son, who owned this instrument, had passed away by the time Harry Bradshaw made contact with the family, and it was his widow who showed it to Harry, so she might not have been able to correct the story.
William Mullaly died in New Orleans more or less estranged from the family; as a result his grand-nephew and grand-niece knew little about him, which is why I was contacted by them (I sent them some photos, and MP3 and Harry's liner notes). What happened to his instrument is anyone's guess, but next time you are in New Orleans, have a look at the pawn shops!
There is one more fact that affirms that this is not the instrument.....you can find that out when you read Jackie Small's story and transcripts in the forthcoming CD.
I hope this answer's your question about Mullaly's concertina!