[Harp-L] Harmonica Factory in Loughrea Ireland

Aongus Mac Cana amaccana@xxxxx
Fri Feb 7 14:38:06 EST 2020

Thanks for your mailing about Hohner in Loughrea. I am glad that my previous BS posting on this topic gave the ladies in Loughrea a laugh. They deserved one after the way they were treated.

Thanks also for correcting my error in thinking that any harmonica (or any other instrument for that matter) which was not chromatic was diatonic. I did not realise that diatonic only applied to Blues Harps. I still think that some of these ladies in Loughrea might know a thing or two about setting up a harmonica and would not mind letting them have a go at some of mine.


Aongus Mac Cana


From: Cathal Johnson Harmonicas [mailto:cathaljohnson at xxxxx] 
Sent: 06 February 2020 17:14
To: Harp-L; Aongus MacCana
Subject: Harmonica Factory in Loughrea Ireland


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 Australia... 


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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