Elizabeth Crotty is a most influential character in Irish Traditional music. Her great popularity and rise to fame is remarkable considering the status of women in Ireland at the time. Even very talented female musicians were not given the same status as their male counterparts and once a woman got married she was expected to give up playing and dancing altogether, even at neighbours houses. Yet she became such a celebrated personage in the world of Irish music, that her death occasioned a telegram of condolence from the President of Ireland. The tunes which made her famous were 'The Wind that Shakes the Barley' and 'The Reel with the Beryl". A collection of her music can be found on CD 'Elizabeth Crotty, Concertina Music from West Clare', her vigorous playing on these recordings utterly belies her age at the time they were made.
Elizabeth Crotty was born in 1885 in Cooraclare, County Clare; she was the youngest member of a musical family. She mastered the concertina very young, and became a popular player at house dances in the region, playing the concertina with great clarity and rhythm. In her late twenties she married Miko Crotty and the couple set up a pub in Kilrush, the establishment became known as a famous music house.
Around 1950 Kathleen Harrington began to make radio broadcasts with Mrs Crotty. Probably as the result of these broadcasts, Ciaran MacMathuna's first excursion to rural Ireland in 1950's with R.T.E.'s mobile unit was to record Mrs. Crotty. On these recordings she plays with some notable Clare musicians including Paddy Canny, Denis Murphy, Agnes White, Peadar O Loughlin, Johnny Pickering and Paddy Breen. She became a pioneer of the Fleadh Cheoil movement and was elected the first President of Comhaltas in Clare, a position she held until she died in 1960.