A new book together with a vinyl box set celebrating the life of Guinness heir Garech Browne and his quest to preserve Ireland’s musical and spoken-word heritage has been published by Claddagh Records.

"Real to Reel: Garech Browne & Claddagh Records" by James Morrissey celebrates the greatest archivists of Irish culture of all time and the man who established Claddagh Records in 1959.

Browne made it his life’s work to preserve Ireland’s musical and spoken-word culture against the backdrop of an emerging pop-culture scene in the UK and further afield.

The new large format book includes contributions from President Michael D. Higgins, Bono, Garech’s housekeeper Margaret Traynor, his librarian Mary Hayes, friends Anthony Palliser, Tara MacGowran and Mary Finnegan, among others.

"Real to Reel: Garech Browne & Claddagh Records" provides unprecedented insight into the life of one of Ireland’s most intriguing figures. 

Browne had many persona; there are many tales of eccentricity, wealth, lavish parties and countless famous friends – Mick Jagger, Brendan Behan, Kofi Annan, Brian Jones, Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Seamus Ennis, Picasso, Samuel Beckett, Anita Pallenberg, and Lucian Freud, to name just a few.

At his Luggala country estate in Co Wicklow, gifted to him by his mother Oonagh Guinness - one of the famous ‘Golden Guinness Girls’ - he hosted parties that became legendary.

“Garech Browne knew what he wanted to achieve with Claddagh, namely, the preservation of Irish traditional music, song and spoken word," author James Morrissey said.

"He wanted the recordings to be simple and made in a manner that was sympathetic to the roots of the Irish tradition. It was a goal that was perceived as audacious by some and a folly by others, but what others thought bothered Garech little."

The book cover of "Real to Reel: Garech Browne & Claddagh Records" by James Morrissey.

The book cover of "Real to Reel: Garech Browne & Claddagh Records" by James Morrissey.

Though Browne has long been the subject of media attention, never before has such a personal account of the man’s life and life’s work been told.

Through the unique insights it provides, this extraordinary book, which began as a collaboration between Browne and Morrissey, has now been finished by the latter to a standard worthy of his late friend.

Of Browne’s attitude towards the output of Claddagh Records, Morrissey said: “He was aware that his relentless pursuit of the highest standards in the quality of the sleeve design and in the writing of sleeve notes caused headaches for others through frequent delays to the finished product.

"However, he felt that these elements were just as important as the quality of the recorded material itself."

He continued: “Garech’s life was a journey of discovery and learning, far from the mundanity of the daily grind of most people’s lives. He thrived on a combination of chaos, conflict, and creativity. He could be as erratic as he was eccentric.

"Claddagh Records was a precarious project which defied business norms. And Garech loved it all the more for that.”

The 228-page book is accompanied by "Masters of Their Craft," the Claddagh Collection LP, presenting 17 remastered tracks from Claddagh’s immensely rich catalogue, including a never-before-released poem from Pulitzer Prize For Poetry and T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet, Paul Muldoon.

This hardcover book, 12” vinyl and poster presented in a rigid slipcase together chronicle the stories of both the world-renowned Claddagh Records record label and the extraordinary life of its founder Garech Browne.

"Real To Reel: Garech Browne & Claddagh Records" is available for pre-order from claddaghrecords.com and will be available from selected bookstores from September 29.