Frank Custy is a legend in Clare music.
Never moving far from his birthplace at Dysart the man has nurtured and inspired hundreds to play and participate in Irish traditional music. A visionary who, as a schoolmaster at nearby Toonagh, integrated music into the teaching day and beyond. Many came under his spell. Sharon Shannon, Gary Shannon, Siobhan Peoples, Sean Conway, Yvonne Casey, Tola Custy and Mary Custy and hundreds who are not household names – all going on to make their own mark on Clare music. His work was recognised with the Mór glor award for his contributions in 2016.
But the thing is he is still doing it.
At Fleadh Nua held in Ennis in May Frank runs the Foinn Seisiún, held every afternoon during the Festival.
This is a slow session aimed at developing musicians where they can get confidence in playing or singing in front of others in a supportive environment. It is always well attended. Anything could happen. Everyone gets a go to try out a new tune or a song. No matter the age. There are no barriers. You might even get an Australian singing the Clogher Road.
Or you could get a Connemara Set or a Seige of Ennis, with unsuspecting visitors being cajoled into it.
The joy on the faces of Jo from Birmingham or Megan from Texas, new to Irish dancing, as they are swept up onto the floor, says it all.
I met TJ, travelling here with Megan from Texas. They dropped into Ennis for a day. As TJ said. “the best day of our trip”.
Who knows how many have gone on to play Irish music or learn to dance after having heard Frank and having the “best day of their trip”.
A big thank you to Frank Custy.