[Harp-L] Harmonica Factory in Loughrea Ireland

Cathal Johnson Harmonicas cathaljohnson@xxxxx
Thu Feb 6 12:13:52 EST 2020

Hello all,
I have not emailed the group for some while but I always read them. I was
following up on the Hohner factory that was built in Loughrea, Galway,
Ireland today. I've done a lot of research and I am delighted with the
progress. I have loads of clipping of articles from newspapers dating back
from before the opening to the closing of the business.

I also had a great meeting with 3 people who worked in the factory this
morning. We sat for a couple of hours chatting about this times. Fantastic
chat. I showed them photos of my recent trip to Trossingen were I got my
certificate from Hohner for repairs from Gabriel Hand and her team. That in
itself was amazing too! Delighted to join this team! The ladies at the
meeting today have very found memories of spending 6 months in Trossingen
training. They loved the place. They told me all about their hard work
which was very badly paid. Within 2 months 34 people from Loughrea having
trained and opened the factory and started working made 28,000 harmonica
and exported them to Canada. Later exports to England, Africa and

I showed the ladies the clipping from over the years and they were able to
tell me lots of stories. I am going to go back and make a radio documentary
about it, such was the fun and 'craic' we had! Although the ladies
testified to the drudgery and the miserable money they made, paid by the
amount of harmonica you made, they noted the fun and easy going atmosphere
working there. They noted that one could get and take a phone call and that
a radio was allowed! That the organisation was run very well.

Arising my research someone sent me this from Angus Mc Cana from Harp L
archives that I would like to correct. Angus says that they manufactured
diatonic harmonica when in fact the manufactured Echo harmonica, the ladies
never made ten hole blues harps. but mainly tremolo harmonica, just to be
clear and for the record ;)
The biggest misinformation from Angus however is that they 'used computers
to tune!' lol Not even to this day to they use computers to tune
harmonicas. It was always and still is done on tuning tables. Nor did they
use or slaughter cats, in fact no animals were harmed during the process,
anyways Angus tuning is not so horrific, but the opposite on a tuning table
is very pleasant and rewarding experience. Your I.C.E man may have bought
computers but they certainly were not used for tuning. I'd do not even
think that computers in those days were that sophisticated!

Having readout Angus's post below to them they all laughed at his BS and
particularly Angus's last paragraph which I totally agree with! That is to
set up a harmonica maintenance factuality! This we all got a great laugh
out of:

*Date*: Mon, 4 Nov 2013 18:28: Arising from the questions raised
recently about a Hohner harmonica factory in Ireland - Yes! Hohner did
manufacture diatonic harmonicas in a factory in Loughrea in County
Galway twenty miles from where I live. It must have been a reasonably
sophisticated operation because the tuning was done with computers -
not the traditional "cats' slaughterhouse" operation. I gleaned this
information from an I.C.E. repair man who was interested in buying
some of the computers when the factory closed.
I figure there must be a few ladies in Loughrea (ex employees) who
know a thing or two about replacing and tuning harmonica reeds. I
would dearly love to make their acquaintance and persuade them to set
up a mouth organ maintenance facility, because I don't think I am
going to live long enough to learn to do it for myself. I guess I am
one of those guys that the late and legendary F.R. Farrell had in mind
when he famously said. "the man who cannot maintain his own harmonica
cannot afford to play one"

What a pity that factory closed down and what a pity I never found any
machinery.... Yet! This is work in progress and I am meeting more people
who worked there in the future. Hopefully I can find a harmonica made there
and a few other artefacts to share with you.


Cathal Johnson


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