Introducing him to music at a very early age, Séamus’ father would play the pipes to him in his cradle. There were many musical visitors to the Ennis family home including Uilleann Pipers Liam Andrews of Dublin and Pat Ward of Drogheda, James McCrone (a reed maker), Fiddle player Frank O'Higgins and Flautist John Cawley. Having heard his son humming tunes at the age of two, Séamus’ father was prompted to carve him an imitation set of pipes. He knew the names of some of the tunes when he was only three years old.
Séamus’ education began at the Holy Faith Convent in Glasnevin and Belvedere College and he went on to attend the all-Irish schools at Scoil Cholm Cille and Colaiste Mhuire. This gave him a good grounding in the Irish language, which he later developed to the full during his travels around Ireland collecting songs, tunes and stories.
When Séamus left school he was employed by Colm O'Lochlainn at the Three Candles Press and learned all the skills associated with the printing trade as well as developing his ability to transcribe music notation by listening attentively to the singers of traditional slow airs. Along with the ability that his father had taught him to write down dance music, this gift would prove invaluable to him when in the early 1940’s he would go on to travel the country as music archivist. Colm O'Lochlainn was a major cause of his love for the Irish language. It was Colm who introduced Séamus to Professor Séamus O'Duilearge of the Irish Folklore Commission.