Dan Collins, when Joe McKenna and the first Danu group toured in 2002


How it’s New York: Dan Collins was one of the founders of Shanachie Records, and responsible for many people hearing traditional Irish and
Dan Collins with Frankie Gavin, in 1977. Courtesy of Iris Nevins.

Dan Collins with Frankie Gavin, in 1977. Courtesy of Iris Nevins.

Scottish music for the first time.
How it’s Irish:  Dan Collins was Irish-American.

We’re so very sorry to hear of the death of Daniel Michael Collins. A wake will be held on Tuesday, May 21st, from 2 –4 PM and 7-9 PM, at John Kritil Funeral Home, located at 1297 1st Ave., New York, NY 10021.

Daniel Michael Collins, a founding partner of Shanachie Entertainment, passed away Wednesday in his Jersey City home at the age of 75. In 1975, he and Richard Nevins founded Shanachie Entertainment, which rapidly became the pre-eminent Irish music record company in America. Shanachie has evolved into one of America’s most respected independent labels, releasing music by acclaimed artists in a wide variety of genres.

Dan is survived by his children, Margaret, Bridget, Noreen, and William, as well as three grandchildren.

Dan Collins, when Joe McKenna and the first Danu group toured in 2002

Dan Collins, when Joe McKenna and the first Danu group toured in 2002

Iris Nevins writes to us,

“Dan was like family to us.”

Mick Moloney writes,

“Dan Collins was a visionary and put the best of Irish music on the map in the United States at a time when it was essentially moribund. He had unerring taste and a rare sense of flair. And he backed up his commitment with his time and his money. He was a mighty man.”

Don Meade’s obituary follows:

Daniel Michael Collins (1937-2013)

Born in Harlem to immigrant parents – William Collins from Meelin, County Cork and Bridget (née Donohue) from Mountcollins, County Limerick – Dan Collins inherited a love of Irish music and dance that remainedwith him all his life.  Along with his sister Kathleen and brothers David and William, Dan studied music with Mayo-born fiddler/button accordionist John McGrath and dancing with Kerryman James T. “The Professor” McKenna, becoming highly accomplished both as a fiddler and a step dancer.

Later in life, Dan did as much as anyone in modern times to preserve and popularize the traditional music of Ireland. His first venture in music publishing came in 1961, when he performed a huge service to Irish traditional musicians worldwide by re-issuing Francis O’Neill’s famous 1903 tune collection Music of Ireland:Eighteen Hundred and Fifty Melodies in an affordable, paperback edition.

In 1973, with partner Richard Nevins, Dan founded Shanachie Records (now Shanachie Entertainment) and launched a historic series oftraditional music recordings. These included LP re-issues of classic NewYork-made 78 rpm discs by County Sligo fiddle greats Michael Coleman, James Morrison and Paddy Killoran as well as new recordings from many leading contemporary Irish musicians, notably including Dan’s fiddling sister Kathleen, east Galway flute player Paddy Carty, New York fiddlers Paddy Reynolds and Andy McGann, and the Irish super-group De Dannan.  Building on this foundation, Shanachie would go on to release a wide-ranging catalog of world music audio and video recordings.

For younger Irish traditional musicians in New York, Dan was an accessible living link to the Golden Age of immigrant music making in New York.

He was a sought-after source of rare tunes and tune settings, as well aa a free-flowing font of knowledge about the musicians and dancers of the old days. He didn’t just talk the talk – he was an excellent fiddler in his own right who played with many of the greats of Irish music, most notably his sister Kathleen, who included several duets with Dan on her 2009 Shanachie disc My Book of Songs.

Dan is survived by his wife Mary Foley Collins, children Margaret, Bridget, Noreen and William , as well as grandchildren Michael Collins Litke, Patrick Collins Litke and Daniel Michael Collins.


Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.