Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Crotty Galvin Music Weekend

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Last weekend I headed out to Moyasta for the Crotty Galvin Traditional Music weekend. It’s a mouthful I know and I don’t blame you if you dont know where Moyasta is. I didn’t. Head out to Kilrush on the south western tip of Clare and a few miles further on you’ll find it. But dont blink. There’s one pub and a school.

I have been to many festivals this year (small and big) but nothing really prepared me for Moyasta. Everything happened in Garrihy’s Bar. There were two session locations in the front bar and for much of the weekend there was continuous music in one or both. In fact in the time I was there the music only stopped for the All Ireland Hurling final. (For the record it was a breathtaking draw between Kilkenny and Tipperary that had the nation captivated).  In the back was a large cavernous room with a small stage in the corner. There were continuous events there including more formal miked up sessions, ad hoc concerts and dancing. There didn’t appear to be a fixed programme and things just happened.

On the Saturday I played in the front bar from 4pm until I called it quits at 1230, That’s 8 ½ hours pretty much without a break. It went on to the small hours I believe. The session (or ‘sessiun’ as they call it in this part of the world) had a peculiar dynamic to it and as people came and went it ebbed and flowed sometimes the music being absolutely brilliant and at other times delightfully messy. It was a pleasure to play there although the pub got noisy and at times you could hardly hear yourself no one seemed to mind. Even the out of time bodhran playing was tolerated!

This was as close to an authentic rural Irish festival I have seen and as far from the Fleadh Ceoil as you could possibly get. One venue, so you missed nothing. Not a hint of commercialism. Just good honest craic. No big imported names and predominantly just locals from West Clare. There were drinks on the house for the musicians and an endless supply of delicious sandwiches, not just for the players but for the punters too, all coordinated by an amazing hard working committee. It had the feel of one big old fashioned house party where even the gate crashers were invited in.

Thanks to everyone who made me feel so welcome and to the many new friends I made. A definite for next year. The battery went dead on the camera so only a few pics but I’m sure you’ll get the feeling for the weekend from these.

Categories: Festivals, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Session of the Summer


Geraldine Cotter, Ronan Browne, Peadar O’Loughlin, Maeve Donnelly and Tony Linnane at Kelly’s in Ennis.


I have to share this story.

The other afternoon Graham  and Niamh were having a Guinness at Kelly’s in Ennis and casually asked the barman if there were any tunes that night.  He said he thought Peadar O’Loughlin  was playing.  Peadar is a legend of Irish music and well into his 80s and rarely plays in public now so Graham said I shouldn’t miss him even if just to listen.  So I went along.  What Graham didn’t know and the barman didn’t tell him was that it was a private function for Peadar’s 50th Wedding Anniversary. 

When I got there, there was a gathering of about 10 musicians and they were in full flight as I walked in with my fiddle.  There was a crowd seated and standing around them and all eyes turned in my direction.  But as if they were waiting for me to arrive there was a vacant seat in the midst of the musicians.  I was encouraged by the onlookers to sit there, even though they had no idea who I was. Intimidated, I just sat motionless, not wanting to attract attention, and listened, though when they launched into Craig’s Pipes I hesitatingly  got my fiddle out and quietly joined in.  I got talking to Nancy, who was sitting next to me and instantly recognised my Australian accent (a rarity as only about two in ten do!). She whispered in deferential tones the names of the musicians.  Next to me were fiddlers Tony Linnane, and Maeve Donnelly, then Peadar also on fiddle, then piper Ronan Browne, then Geraldine Cotter on piano and Eamonn Cotter on flute, then another flute player, Jim O’Connor, and then two more pipers, whose names just faded away as my mind tried to digest the horsepower in this amazing gathering. One I later identified as Maire Ni Ghrada. The music was out of this world. Sweet combination of fiddles, flutes and pipes.  Irish music – as it was meant to be.   A truly magical experience.

This was the session of the summer for me and a memory I will treasure.  I have only one photograph as my presence there was intrusion enough.

One day I fear I will wake up and find that all this is a dream.

Categories: Sessions, Stories, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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