Posts Tagged With: Tola Custy

Frank Custy. A Legend. “The best day of my trip”.

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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.

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Frank on the banjo and friends

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.

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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.

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Jo from Birmingham in good hands

 

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Megan from Texas and Jo from Birmingham, learning the steps for the Siege of Ennis.

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All ages enjoy it.  

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.

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Categories: Real Ireland, Sessions, Stories, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sessions Sessions Sessions!

Session at The Diamond with Blackie O’Connell, Siobhan Peoples and Cyril O’Donoghue

Siobhan Peoples and Cyril O'Donoghue Fleadh Nua 2014

Siobhan Peoples and Cyril O’Donoghue Fleadh Nua 2014

Blackie and Siobhan

Blackie and Siobhan

Yvonne Casey and Josephine Marsh at Brogan's Fleadh Nua

Yvonne Casey and Josephine Marsh at Brogan’s Fleadh Nua

Siobhan Peoples and Tola Custy at Faffa's.  Final session at Fleadh Nua 2014

Siobhan Peoples and Tola Custy at Faffa’s. Final session at Fleadh Nua 2014

Yvonne Casey and Josephine Marsh

Yvonne Casey and Josephine Marsh

Mary and Scorcha

Mary and Scorcha

Session at Brogan's with Tom Delaney and Eric Healy and friends

Session at Brogan’s with Tom Delaney and Eric Healy and friends

Session at the Old Ground with Mary MacNamara and her daughter Scorcha and Geraldine Cotter.

Session at the Old Ground with Mary MacNamara and her daughter Scorcha and Geraldine Cotter.

Blackie O'Connells pipes at the Diamond Bar Ennis

Blackie O’Connells pipes at the Diamond Bar Ennis

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Session at THe Copper Jug Ennis with Andrew MacNamara and Tara Breen

The momentum of the Fleadh and the buzz around Ennis built as we approached the weekend. The crowds got bigger and the sessions got better.    I went to 24 sessions during the 8 days and I can honestly say I didn’t go to one I didn’t enjoy.

The Fleadh Nua has been a terrific way to start my Ireland journey. I have been overwhelmed by the people and the music and it is everything I had expected or hoped for.  I have played with most of Clare’s top musicians and others less heralded but just as good.  I have met a lot of interesting people from Europe and the US (Hi Veronika and Holger, Thomas, Thierry, Sally Ann, Caroline, Kieran, Jessica) all with a singular passion for Irish music and all keen to learn more in their own individual way.  I have been welcomed by most her who are happy to share the music.  I have met some wonderful Irish people who drive from all over to listen to the music for the Fleadh.  They are so knowledgeable and like it that you are interested. I have watched my fiddle playing grow.  The nerves are still there when asked to start a tune but a week ago I never dreamed I would be playing alongside the likes of Siobhan Peoples, Tola Custy, Blackie O’Connell, Josephine Marsh, Mary MacNamara or Eamonn Cotter and holding my own.  Or listening to some wonderful singing from Niamh Parsons and Noirin Lynch and many others. Or the impromptu dancing of the gorgeous Lenka. The variety of approaches to the music is incredible From the driving pipes and fiddle of Blackie and Siobhan to the gentle flowing pace of Mary Mac and Geraldine Cotter and the sweet tones of Yvonne Casey’s fiddle with Josephine’s exquisite box playing.

After this concentrated week the music is starting to get into my head.  I am recognising tunes and playing along (well sort of) after a few hearings.  Whether they stick is another matter but the process of learning by ear, something I have struggled with for many years is beginning to happen for me.  What helps is that they play tunes here often five or six times, sometimes more.  It is not until the third or fourth time that you can really feel the groove and the intensity builds and the music suddenly lifts.  This is lost when the tune is only played twice.  As Josephine said when I discussed this with her during a break after a particularly satisfying set “Why stop if you’re enjoying it?”

The way music is weaved in and out of the fabric of the culture in this part of the world is revealed every night and day.  One strikes up a conversation and it soon gets to “you here for the Fleadh?” And they will proceed to tell you where the best music is.

The pleasure that musicians get playing with each other is obvious as is the respect that they seem to hold for each other.  This is reflected in the multitude of different collaboration in the many different locations. For example I have seen Siobhan Peoples play with Murty Ryan, with Blackie O’Connell and Tola Custy at different times.

The Café sessions where the music is taken out of the pubs and away from the constant pub noise reveals its soul and demands undivided attention have been an unsung highlight.

I continue to be inspired.

Categories: Festivals, Sessions, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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