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The Shamrock Mandolin
Many thanks to Joe Doran for submitting this great story


John Joe Molloy with his famous Shamrock Mandolin

When John Joe Molloy was asked to play at a party, he provded music in fine Irish style on the world's only Shamrock-shaped Mandolin!
A keen ceilis fan, John designed and made the prototype for his new invention in just four weeks, using a few shillings worth of plywood. Once made, he registered it with the Patents Office in London. He was hoping at the time to interest some Irish folk groups with his new invention and he was quick to point out that this shamrock-shaped instrument was no gimmick!
Some local musicians, who had heard it played, claimed it had a better tone than a traditional instrument and once it had been made up properly, with either a mandolin or guitar head, John, Joe Crossan, myself and many others reckoned that there would not be an instrument to beat it in the whole of Ireland.
I hadn't seen or played this instrument since 1972 and when I was asked by one of John's family if I would re-string and tune it, I couldn't believe my luck - to see and play one of the best instruments I ever had on my kee. And the memories flooded back - nights in Ballyargan, Lurgan, Armagh, the Old School and Campbell's old barn - music, poetry, singing and dancing would go on to the wee small hours. That was our X Factor!
On one occasion the world famous Dubliners folk group were playing in the Regal Cinema in Portadown and John Joe was asked to play his famous mandolin with them on stage. Of course he obliged.
I have lots of stories to tell all about those happy nights, but that's for another time. I am just so happy that this one-off instrument is still with us and I am sure John Joe is looking down laughing, knowing it is in good hands.
Joe Doran



Joe Doran, proud to hold the shamrock mandolin once more






 

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