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Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan, Inagh (1893-1987)


Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan

Photo courtesy Pat Mackenzie

Michael ‘Straighty’ Flanagan, a lean, tallish man, lived with his older brother, Paddy and sister-in-law in their farmhouse just outside Inagh village. In the early days of the Willie Clancy Summer School, he would come into town to sing at the Friday afternoon concert together with some of the other local singers such as Tom Lenihan, Martin Reidy, Nora Cleary, etc. Michael, or ‘Straighty’ as he was more usually known, was photographed by American photographer Dorothea Lange in the 1950s, and he once complained to us about American photographers who turned up, set up their equipment in the yard and began taking photographs without bothering to ask anybody's permission, or explain what they were doing. His photograph is to be found in Lange's collection, ‘Ireland’, published in 1996, where he is incorrectly identified as a ‘seanachí’ (storyteller). An album of ‘Straighty’s’ songs, entitled ‘Lone Shanakyle’, was released by Outlet records in 1981 and he was also included in the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Éireann cassette and book, ‘Traditional Songs and Singers’, along with Tom Lenihan, in 1977. On the occasions we visited the family home his brother Paddy, aged 92, also sang for us. The rest of the recordings were made either in Rynne’s bar in Inagh or during the sessions following the Singers Concert during Willie Clancy Summer Schools.
Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie


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