Concert Programme

1.	        Cú-cú-ín - Máire Ní Chéileachair
2.	        When Swallows Come - Larry Joy
3.	        The Streams of Bunclody - Phil Berry
4.          Nancy Hogan's Goose - Senan Lillis
5.	         Mary McRoe - Paddy Berry
6.	         Claodach - Michéal Marrinan
7.	         The Parted Years - Tim Dennehy
8.	         Skittin’ the Cuckoo - Paddy Berry
9.	         Let the Eagles Fly - Michéal Marrinan
10.	An Londubh Is An Chéirseach - Larry Joy
11.	Land of the Gael - Senan Lillis
12.	Tacumshane Lake Tragedy - Phil Berry
13.	Keep in Touch - Tim Dennehy
14.	An Lacha Bhacach - Máire Ní Chéileachair

Concert Notes:

Cú-cú-ín - Máire Ní Chéileachair
I first heard Cú-cú-ín being sung by Máire Ní Cheocháin, originally from Cúil Aodha in the Múscraí Gaeltacht of Co. Cork, and her daughter, Gobnait. It has a beautiful air and an unusual structure. In the notes of her CD Cú-cú-ín, Máire tells us that she heard it from Micheál Ó Luasa from Baile Mhic Íre who composed extra verses to a remnant of it he heard from his mother. It could be described as an "agallamh beirte" or conversation between an adult cuckoo and her son who was born abroad with many questions about his first visit to Ireland. The mother lists all the nutritious foods there and the other birds who will keep them company - the wren, grouse, thrush and the merry partridge! She says she will spend the winter abroad and that she'll be back again the following May to proclaim the coming of summer.      

When Swallows Come – Larry Joy
The return of the swallows in Spring is a much-longed-for event in the Irish tradition. Here now is hope, resurrection and the coming of summer… The song was written in 2012 when my father was recovering in hospital following surgery. He was a man who took delight in the ways of nature and the turn of the seasons and he spotted the first swallows of the year last April over Ardglass, a few weeks before his death. Go ndéanaí Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis. `

The Streams of Bunclody - Phil Berry
This song which was very popular in the 1960s, and a favourite of Luke Kelly, is one of the few Wexford emigration songs. While the two birds referenced in the song (the lark and cuckoo) are well known for their distinctive sounds, very few people recognise these birds to see when compared to  the better known blackbird, thrush and robin.

Nancy Hogan's Goose - Senan Lillis
This a humorous nonsense song which has different versions sung from place to place. It was very popular in Clare in the 1970's and Tom Munnelly, folklorist and collector, collected a hilarious version from J. C. Walsh, Mount Scott, Mullagh, Co. Clare. This is the version Senan sings here tonight.
Other singers to have this song were Willie Clancy, Nora Cleary and also Con Greaney from West Limerick had his own unique version. Cooraclare's Marty Marrinan recorded it on the 'Gone but not Forgotten' CD which was launched a few years ago. The only documented recording of this song outside of Clare is one made by the BBC when it was sung by Caherciveen Traveller Sal Smith (nee Purcell ) in Belfast in 1962. The tune is generally called 'The Rose Tree' and is an old English folk tune (Morris tune). 

Mary McRoe – Paddy Berry
I wrote this song some years ago which is one of a trilogy of songs about women I met at the all-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil over the years. The other two are entitled Still She Wouldn’t Have Me, a suitably long funny song and Patricia, a short inspiring search engine. The bird reference in Mary McRoe is in the first verse:		       Where the song of the thrush and the linnet
Sing cheerily from every hedgerow
Combining with the music of nature
And engaging sweet Mary McRoe

Claodach - Michéal Marrinan
An áit úd Claodach ina Rugadh mé is the full title and last line of this song written in 1950s by Frankie Cronin about his native place. Claodach is a remote area in South Kerry between Kilgarvan and Cúil Aodha mentioned in another song My Pup came Home from Claodach. While the latter lambasts the area for barreness and its inhabitants for their meaness, Frankie in his song remembers the wonderful days of youth, farming in a beautiful landscape among the mountains. One verse mentions the birds and 

I have translated it as follows:
There was singing of birds there on branches and bushes
Each from his mouth a special song of his own
From the depths of their throats blackbirds and thrushes
Trying out notes they themselves had composed	       
That was the sweet sound they were outpouring
From lips and beaks and necks also
Along the valley where the river Flesk
Rushed on its way to its Lough Leane home.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

The Parted Years - Tim Dennehy 
I wrote this song for my mother Nora Kelly who left us on May 31st, 1975. She was a beautiful singer and a gentle woman from whom I first heard songs intermingled with her household chores. She enjoyed the simple things in life - a game of cards, a Gold Flake cigarette and a Kimberley biscuit dipped in her tea. Her unconditional love knew no bounds. Nature again plays a prominent part here and there are references to birdsong in verse two:
If you should come in a new-born spring on the wings of the swallow or swift,
And you circle again through an April bow, your voice wrapped in song as a gift.
Or if you come in summer time through the buttercups of May,
When the fledglings flutter in startled flight, we will walk through the bowed heads of hay.

Skittin’ the Cuckoo – Paddy Berry
This is a nonsense song I wrote for this project entitled Skittin’ the Cuckoo. It turns upside down a national school jingle heard in the late 1940s which celebrates the cuckoo.
How sweet the pleasures of the spring
When we hear the cuckoo sing
Cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo
Hear the cuckoo sing

Let the Eagles Fly - Michéal Marrinan
Let the Eagles Fly is the song I wrote for the Mountshannon Song Contest in 2013 commemorating the return of the White Tailed Eagles to Ireland.  I have always been close to nature and have a strong interest in wildlife and birdlife in particular. I was delighted that the eagles hatched out for the first time in Co. Clare on an island in Lough Derg near Mountshannon. The competition required the song to contain the words eagle, lake and Mountshannon. The chorus is as follows:
Mountshannon eagles take the lake, take the sky
Here is my song to remember them by
Poetry of wings and motion of words
Empty and blank is a place without birds.

An Londubh Is An Chéirseach – Larry Joy
Chualas an amhrán aoibhinn seo á casadh don chéad uair ag Bríde ní Bheaglaoích ina clós fhéin, faoi na réaltaí, roimh Nollaig. D’fhág an amhrán an-rian orm is bhí fhios agam díreach go mbéadh sé fíor-oiriúneach don oíche seo. Is amhrán grá é a bhí bailithe ag Edward Bunting i 1795 i gceanntar Baile an Róib, Contae Mhuigh Eó.

Land of the Gael - Senan Lillis
This song was composed by Limerick solicitor, Listowel native, All Ireland football medalist, raconteur, singer and composer, Garry McMahon (1937-2008) from Abbeyfeale. This song was recorded on CD 'Songman'. Garry's songs reflected his life interests and he always acknowledged the influence of his father, author, teacher and broadcaster Bryan McMahon. Garry sings of emigration and the nostalgia of the exile, of his love of home and place. 'But I hear the sweet sounds of the skylark, and I listen to the curlew's sad wail, as out ov'r the ocean they call me,  'ah, come back to the Land of the Gael'.

Tacumshane Lake Tragedy - Phil Berry
I wrote this song the week after the tragic events on Tacumshane Lake, South Wexford on 7th January 1982, in which two brothers (Walshes) and their sons lost their lives in a boating accident. It is a very heart-rending and sad song. The birds in the song (widgeon, swan, duck, teal, goose, drake, brent goose and waterhen) are game birds which the Walsh brothers hunted regularly. 

Keep in Touch - Tim Dennehy
Poem: Keep in Touch by Brendan Kennelly from ‘A Time for Voices’, Bloodaxe Books 1990. 
I fell in love with this poem at the very first reading and I still love its themes of anticipation and hope and the promise that each new spring brings. There is adventure yet a connection to home here too and its very first lines are beautifully evocative of the breath between winter and spring when birdsong reminds us again of the turning of the year and of brighter days ahead.

Song: Keep in Touch by Tim Dennehy from ‘Old Boots and Flying Sandals’, SRCD 005 1997. 
This was inspired by the Brendan Kennelly poem of the same title and has as its core the emotions of friendship, love and hope. Weaving a thread through the song is the cyclical thread of birth, youth, maturity, death and renewal in man and nature. There are references to birdsong in verses one and four:
The birds that once were silent they burst forth again in song,
And young love that was reticent walks slowly hand in hand.
The swallow and the sweet cuckoo make journey now to sing
And the crocus and wild daffodil give birth to a new spring.

An Lacha Bhacach - Máire Ní Chéileachair 
This song was composed by Seán Eoin Ó Súilleabháin from Cúil Aodha in the Múscraí Gaeltacht. In it the poet speaks to the lame duck who has come to his door injured and laments his predicament. He curses the donkey who probably kicked and injured the duck and promises vengeance! He also promises to do his best to nurse the duck back to health including making a splint for his broken wing. Apart from feeling sorry for the duck he is also feeling sorry for himself because he is without his lovely egg every morning and his health is suffering because of it. He finishes by confirming that he'll make a puddle for the duck to swim in and assures the "lacha bhacach" that he'll be back to full health and singing "bhac bhac" before the beginning of March! I first heard it being sung by Eoiní Maidhcí Ó Súilleabháin, also from Cúil Aodha. 

About the Singers:
Video Documentation of Concert
Recorded and Produced by Michael Fortune and Aileen Lambert

All images/design by Michael Fortune and Aileen Lambert unless otherwise stated.

The Connaught Concert

St Nicholas Collegiate Church, Lombard Street, Galway City.

Saturday 23rd of May 2015

Tim Dennehy

Tim Dennehy was born in Ballinskelligs on the Iveragh peninsula and the family moved to nearby Cahersiveen when he was still in primary school. Both his parents sang and his mother Nora Kelly of Cill Rialaig was from a well- known musical family. While teaching in Dublin in the 1970s Tim co-founded the Góilín Singers’ Club and it still meets each Friday in the Teachers’ Club, Parnell Square. On moving to Clare in 1983 he helped in setting up Féile Amhránaíocta an Chláir which hosted a very successful festival of singing in Ennistymon, Co Clare for many years. He also broadcast a popular programme of traditional music, song and poetry on the local radio station Clare FM. Tim has six albums to his credit including, Between the Mountains and the Sea, a tribute to Cahersiveen poet Sigerson Clifford, and Old Boots and Flying Sandals, a compilation of his own original material. He lives in Miltown Malbay where he is very involved in the local music and song tradition. He continues to perform, lecture and write and facilitates song workshops at home in Ireland and abroad.

Máire Ní Chéileachair

Born and raised in Farran, Co. Cork, Máire Ní Chéileachair inherited her love of traditional songs and music from her family roots in Kilnamartyra in the Muskerry Gaeltacht. She was Singer in Residence in that Gaeltacht area in 2000-2001 and has been teaching sean-nós singing to young people there since in the Aisling Gheal scheme. She has won many prizes at Fleadh Cheoil and Oireachtas na Gaeilge singing competitions, including Sean-nós na mBan and second place in Corn Uí Riada. She is a member of Cork Singers' Club and a regular visitor at singing festivals around Ireland. She has also brought her singing to audiences in England, Germany, France, Canada and the USA. Her songs, in English and Irish, may be heard on a CD called Guth ar Fán.

Larry Joy

Larry is a native of Emly, Co Tipperary. He teaches in the local secondary school in Hospital, Co. Limerick. Larry has been involved in singing in various forms through the years; groups, choirs, musical-societies, and eventually the traditional genre. He is a regular contributor at festivals and traditional singing events throughout Ireland. His own compositions have won acclaim at county and provincial level and has been awarded the Garry McMahon Award for Newly-Composed ballads.

Senan Lillis

Senan was born (1956) and reared in the village of Cooraclare  in West Clare. His mother played the fiddle and his father was a blacksmith and hammered a few tunes on the concertina. Song, music and football was our daily diet growing up, though not always in that order. Both parents were good singers with his mother singing mainly emigration songs as she has spent many years in England and US. His Dad sang mostly GAA or humorous songs. The area of Cooraclare has a rich singing tradition and Senan was born only 50 yards from the famous Chapel Gates in Cooraclare.  He singles out Marty Marrinan, Kathleen Downes, Siney Crotty, Robbie McMahon, Tom Kelly, Ollie Conway , Joe O Connor and Tom Lenihan as having had a great influence on his singing. 

He has lived in Wexford since 1979 and acknowledges that the great song tradition of Wexford has had a profound influence on him. Singers like Paddy Berry, Dick Sheil, Mary Brogan, John Furlong have been influential in his singing.  

Micheál Marrinan

Micheál is a traditional singer/songwriter with Cork and Clare roots living in Co. Waterford since 1970.  He is a founder member and chairman of Comeraghs Comhaltas

branch which is based around Cúil na Sméar just north of Dungarvan.  His songs have been broadcast on TV and radio over the past 30 years and he has won numerous prizes including 1st place at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in both Irish and English.  A number of his songs have been recorded by other singers and some are sung in Fleadh competitions. His CD Between Miltown & Ennistymon (2004) features his best known songs including The Ballad of Binder Twine and The Island of Australia which are regularly sung by many singers and have now entered the tradition.

Phil Berry

Phil Berry comes from South Wexford and has been singing traditionally since the late sixties. This was a natural progression from listening to his brother Paddy sing the ‘old’ songs. He attended and competed in Fleadhanna all round the country and won the All Ireland Senior Singing in 1989 at the Sligo Fleadh Ceoil. His favourite songs are Wexford songs about the 1798 rebellion, songs of the sea and sports songs. He released a CD of traditional songs, also featuring his son Ronan, called A Father and Son.

Paddy Berry

Paddy was born in the Barony of Forth near Rosslare, Co. Wexford, sometime in the last century. He is a renowned singer and song collector and lifelong member of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, and a member of the Wexford singing circle since its inception. He won the all-Ireland senior ballad competition in 1970 and again in 1976, as well as becoming the senior all-Ireland whistling champion in 1975. Paddy has appeared on RTE 1 television traditional music programmes from 1963 to recent times.

Paddy has published two collections of ballads entitled Wexford Ballads (1982) and More Wexford Ballads (1984), and has more recently published a book of short stories entitled No doubt about it (2014). He has also recorded two albums of traditional ballads; Sing us a Song Paddy (2000), Sing again Paddy  (2001) and also features on the album The Cuckoos Note, an album by Whisht a group of traditional singers from Wexford. Paddy is currently researching the background stories of old Wexford ballads.

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