Cloughjordan, County Tipperary, Ireland [map]
Thomas MacDonagh Museum

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MacDonagh Piano

Thomas MacDonagh’s mother gave lessons to local children on this small square grand piano. The Brazilian Rosewood piano, with covered ivory and ebony keys, was built in about 1850 by the London firm of Collard and Collard, and the maker’s number is still visible.

The home of the MacDonagh family, with Joseph and Mary Louise and their six children, nurtured fine qualities and many talents. Music featured in their lives. Thomas was a fine singer and played the organ in the chapel while a student in Rockwell College, Cashel. His brother, John, trained as a tenor and was a member of an opera company for a while. Perhaps James achievement was most significant in the world of music. He excelled in woodwind instruments and gave a recital on clarinet in Scoil Éanna for students and staff. He spent most of his life in England and was a founder member of the London Symphony Orchestra, playing cor anglais and oboe. The clarinet was the preferred instrument of the youngest of the MacDonagh brothers, Joe, which he played in local concerts.

Mary MacDonagh, née Parker, died in 1908 and her piano came into the possession of Mrs Winifred Hynes, one of her students, who had progressed to become organist in Saints Michael and John’s Church, Cloughjordan. Mrs Hynes played for the funeral Mass of Mrs. MacDonagh. She and her family lived where the Thomas MacDonagh Museum stands today. Later the family moved to live over their public house, Grahams. The piano remained in that house for four generations before it was taken away for storage.

Unfortunately, while in storage it suffered a degree of deterioration, and was sorely in need of renovation and repair. A generous donation towards this work was made by her descendants, the Hennessy family. Restoration work on the sound-box and intricate fretwork has been carried out by Conservation Letterfrack.

The piano that was played by Thomas and his siblings, over a hundred years ago, has been restored to its former beauty.