Maurice Leyden is a folk-song collector, singer, broadcaster and writer with a passion for Ulster folk-song. Originally from Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, his first book ‘Belfast, City of Song’ (Brandon) explores the traditional songs of the city which has been his home for many years. His research for the Belfast book revealed a wealth of children’s songs and street lore and Maurice’s second book presents a rich collection children’s singing games, ‘Boys and Girls Come out to Play’ (Apple tree). Both books are complemented by recordings of selected songs.
Maurice is much in demand as a lecturer and authority on Ulster folk-song and contributed to ‘The Companion to Irish Traditional Music’ edited by Fintan Vallely (Cork University Press) and ‘Irish People Irish Linen’ by Kathleen Curtis Wilson (Ohio University Press). In 2008 Maurice was invited to give a lecture on his collection of Linen songs at the Library of Congress in Washington.
A familiar voice on the airwaves, Maurice presented a weekly folk-music programme ‘Folkal Point’ for 14 years on Downtown Radio. He is a regular performer at folk events, collaborating with his wife Jane Cassidy to stage theatrical presentations combining local history and folk-song. In 1995 Maurice and Jane released a CD featuring songs and readings from their acclaimed show about the life and times of Mary Ann McCracken. Maurice also released a solo album in 2016 entitled ‘The Tern and the Swallow’.
Maurice and Jane’s most recent release is an album of ‘Linen Songs’ featuring 17 songs drawn from his extensive collection of songs associated with the Ulster Linen Industry.