Tribute to Joe Cooley & Kevin Keegan

Cooley  -  Keegan

Anecdotes  & more about Joe & Kevin

Joe Cooley Discography - About His Music

Joe Cooley
(This picture was taken in Dublin circa 1957, the night before Joe left for the United States.)

Joe Cooley was born into a musical family in Peterswell, Co. Galway in 1924. Before immigrating to London in 1949, Joe was a noted hurler for his country team. In the early 1970's Joe came to San Francisco and, as so often he did at home, had many a great session with his friend and fellow musician, Kevin Keegan. Joe was a founding member of the famous Tulla Céilí Band and sought everywhere he went to promote enjoyment of Irish traditional music. On one occasion, in Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, Joe was presented with a beautiful accordion he dubbed "The Box." This was to become his trademark as he went on to Chicago, San Francisco, and as he would seisiun to his heart's content in the Catskill Mountains of New York

Joe Cooley spent the last 18 years of his life in America and died in Ireland on December 20, 1973. He is buried in Killtomas Graveyard where still is heard local Sean Leahey's "Farewell to Joe Cooley."

Through Cooley's "The Wise Maid" and Keegan's "Kevin Keegan's Waltz" their love of Ireland and its traditions live on through the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Cooley-Keegan Branch of San Francisco, named in their honor.

March 13, 2001 Cooley-Keegan Branch was honored to have Charlie Piggott as a guest speaker for an impromptu talk about the music, life and times of Joe Cooley. During the talk we were treated to rare recordings, biographical photographs, and anecdotes. A few rare pictures of Kevin Keegan playing with Joe were included also. We thank Charlie and wish him well in his endeavor to preserve this important part of Irish traditional music history.

You can watch a documentary
 about Joe Cooley at  

This text was taken from the printed program for the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann 26th Annual North American Convention held in 1998 in San Francisco.

A rare photo of Kevin taken by Evo Bluestein  appears at .

Kevin Keegan

Kevin Keegan was born in Bllinasloe, County Galway and was founding member of the Aughrim Slopes Band. His love and quiet enthusiasm of Irish traditional music brought him to America. Kevin played his accordion in competition against his friend Joe Cooley in Chicago, and when the contestants were finished, both settled into a lively seisiun for the enjoyment of all. Kevin was well-known in San Francisco, playing first at the Carousel Ballroom, and then nightly at The Plough and Stars. He is fondly remembered there still by those dancers and musicians who came to share in and benefit from the gift of his music. Kevin passed away in San Francisco five years to the day Joe Cooley died on December 20, 1978. He was taken home to Galway for burial.


Mickie Zekley of Lark in The Morning ...

Mickie's interest in Irish music was first inspired by the legendary Irish accordion players Joe Cooley and Kevin Keegan, whom he performed with for many years.

More Joe and  Kevin stories...