I was immersed in Irish music and culture from the cradle. On my mother's side, the Moriartys, were themselves steeped in traditional song for generations back. Among my earliest 'heroes' were my aunt Kathleen and uncles Páid, Tony and Mike Moriarty. They were a great influence on me. I well remember when my aunt Kathleen used to come home from America they often would all come together at our house and we used to get great enjoyment from the music and the songs, most of them in Irish.
Looking back on my childhood, it seems that nearly everyone I knew had a song or two, or could play a few tunes on the `box' if called upon. Songs were often strongly identified with a particular singer, I remember Thady Flaherty, an old man and a great singer. I was no more than ten years old when I first heard Thady sing Róisín Dubh, but I will always remember it.
There were some very fine traditional singers, musicians and seanchaithe in the district at that time (and there still is, thankfully) who were known throughout Co Kerry and far beyond it. My own father, Tom Scanlon, was recognised as a fine speaker of Irish and a noted seanchaí. He had that agility or nicety of speech which he inherited from his ancestors and which was highly prized among the old people. It brought frequent visits to our house by Irish scholars and academics from Cork University and other places of learning in those days.