‘These Off-beat “Crazy Kids and Gals”’: Jazz in Ireland, 1918–1960

  • Damian Evans Research Foundation for Music in Ireland
Keywords: jazz, jazz history, Irish jazz, Dublin jazz scene, Dance Bands, Nineteenth-Century Dublin, Hot Notes, Irish Rhythm Club, Louis Stewart, George Desmond Hodnett, Ireland, Dublin, Irish


This paper conducts a historical overview of jazz in Ireland, with a focus on the Dublin jazz scene from 1918 to 1960. Using archival resources, it looks at black and black-influenced music, minstrelsy and blackface before examining the arrival and reception of early jazz in what was then part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It traces the changing nature of the Dublin jazz scene, covering topics such as jazz as dance music, the anti-jazz movement and the development of the dominant narrative of jazz as art-form that continues to this day.

This paper also documents the shifting reception of jazz in Ireland from a threatening foreign music through to a music that has served the purposes of both entertainment and art. It makes a case for the Irish jazz narrative to include the activities of amateur musicians, dance band musicians and others, arguing that their involvement with jazz went beyond a casual interest, establishing an active community of practice that constituted an early Irish jazz scene.

Author Biography

Damian Evans, Research Foundation for Music in Ireland

Dr Damian Evans is a double bassist and researcher who completed his PhD studies at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama in 2017. A Research Associate of the Research Foundation for Music in Ireland, he has guest lectured at University College Dublin and has co-edited The Musicology Review journal. He established the Galway Jazz Club and Galway Jazz Festivals before moving to Dublin in 2008, where he chaired the first academic jazz conference in Ireland, Documenting Jazz, in 2019. Damian is currently Honorary Secretary for the Society for Musicology in Ireland and is writing chapters for The [Oxford] History of Jazz in Europe.

How to Cite
Evans, D. (2019). ‘These Off-beat “Crazy Kids and Gals”’: Jazz in Ireland, 1918–1960. Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland, 14, 3-30. https://doi.org/10.35561/JSMI14191