Driving through Keadue in the very north of Co Roscommon, as I was on this crisp, clear Autumn day, you are reminded everywhere of Turlough O’Carolan. There is what seems to be a new sculpture in the main street of this spotless town with a harp at the centre and there is a Heritage Park with monuments to the man. A carved coloured stone with the music for Sí Beag Sí Mór sits in a rotunda that looks out over the village to the Arigna Mountains. And if you come back in August next year you can attend the 40th O’Carolan Harp Festival. Though born in Co Meath, the blind harpist and composer lived in and around Keardue/Ballyronan so this is definitely O’Carolan Country.
And just out of the village, there is the Kilronan Cemetery where he was buried. The elaborate entrance proclaims this with a carved stone mounted over the gate. His grave lies within the family crypt adjacent to the ruins of the Abbey.
The sun was shining when I visited and of course I had to take a ‘selfie’ of me playing Sí Beag, Sí Mór at the grave site. Now I am not a superstitious person but I swear that as I played the last note a black cloud came from nowhere and filled the sky. The heavens dumped for about three minutes as I retreated to the safety of my car.
I get the message, Turlough. I have to admit that a friend warned me not to do it. Now seriously, I’m sure it wasn’t the worst you have heard, but I promise never again.
If you’re in that beautiful part of the world. Go visit. Just don’t play Sí Beag, Sí Mór.