Doolin was firmly put onto the global map of Irish traditional music thanks to the three Russell brothers; Packie, Gussy and
Miko. They learned their musical talent from their mother Annie and then as young men from older traditional musicians in the area and so inherited the distinctive style and sound peculiar to Clare.Their musical legacy is now celebrated that last weekend in Febuary every year. The Russel weekend features classes, concert and manay many sessions.
The Russell brothers came from a family steeped in traditional music and folklore. Their unique style of playing has left an indelible mark on Irish music.
Born in Doonagore, Doolin, their parents were Austin Russell and Annie Moloney.
The concertina was Pakies' instrument, Micho and Gussie played the timber flute and the tin whistle. In their early years music was not yet centred in pubs and the three brothers often walked or cycled miles to play together at house dances. Neighbours gathered together in designated houses telling stories, singing and dancing.
The Russell brothers first came to attention outside of their own locality in the late 1930's when Seamus O' Duillearga recorded their music and stories for the Irish folklore Commission. Recordings made by Seamus Ennis, Breandan Breathnach and Ciaran MacMathuna also brought them to a wider audience. >/p>
In the 1960's things began to change dramatically for Micho. Tony MacMahon, a musician from Clare and a producer with R.T.E., arranged for Micho to appear and record in Slatterys in Dublin. The simplicity of his music greatly impressed the audience. Radio broadcasts and television appearances followed. Micho had an amazing memory and he knew about three hundred tunes and songs, mostly associated with his native county Clare. His repertoire included some unusual and rare pieces and he had an ability to transform any music he touched.
As his reputation grew in Ireland invitations began to filter in from abroad. He went to London in 1969 and he made his first of many trips to the continent in 1972. He won the All-Ireland competition for tin whistle at Listowel in 1973. He performed at the Smithsonian Institution's Bicentennial Festival in Washington in 1976, one of five visits he made to the United States.
The late Micho Russell was a wonderful man, a fine musician in the old style and an inspiration to many younger musicians. He travelled the world playing his music,the seemingly simple, yet extremely subtle and complex music of west Clare that he and his brothers, had recorded on an album, 'The Russell Family of Doolin, County Clare'.