Johnny ‘Buffalo’ and Lil Connors
When we met Johnny and Lil, we were also greeted by a number of generations in the family including their children and grandchildren. We were lucky to hear a broad range of songs, from Johnny, Lil and their family, sharing with us their stories, history and family photos. One of the family members we met, their granddaughter Catherine Flynn, is also granddaughter to Kitty Cassidy and a fine young singer in her own right who has learned many of the old songs.
Johnny is brother to Willie Connors who is another singer known to the song collectors. They come from a big traveller family with a long history of singing in both their father and mother’s family, which also includes the Cashes. Johnny remembers hearing his grandfather singing some of the very old songs. Sharing a range of songs he has picked up, he talked about ships songs and ballads. For Johnny, a ballad is only a ballad if it holds a true life-story and his favourite song is the six-verse love song, Willie Reilly. In this session we were able to hear a number of songs and the stories behind them, such as Pretty Polly and There Is An Alehouse, as well as other rare and beautiful songs. Johnny learnt to sing from his mother, father and grandfather and he also remembers step dancing as a young boy and hearing the lilting or diddling singing for mummers as he grew up. Today people don’t do this so much anymore, but despite this, the couple do recall one step dancer who lives nearby. In our sessions with Johnny and Lil we enjoyed hearing more than 20 songs sung.
Them all had to be true, you see. […] You have to have it written right in the ballad. It has to be true – it’s what you call a life-story, a ballad is a life-story. It’s a thing that happened years ago.