Niamh's Musings

Join Niamh at home and on tour... the people she meets, the music she loves and the turns in the road.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Fermo, Italy

Just a quick note to say how impressed we were with the new lineup of The Birkintree at their concert in Fermo last week. We flew over for the day - via Stansted, to Ancona, and were driven the hour journey to Fermo - and we flew home the next day! But it was well worth all the travelling.

Myself and Graham have been doing concerts with The Birkintree for about 6 years now, and they are always enjoyable. At this wonderful concert in Fermo, the line up included the Fabio Vernizzi Trio - and of course the usual four regular musicians, Fabio, Michel, Davis and Danielle. The music was outstanding. Also on tour with the Birtkintree at the same time, were Cyril O'Donoghue and Tony O'Connell, two of my favourite musicians. I've been listening to Cyril for over 20 years and would never tire of his beautiful voice and his treatment of songs. About 7 years ago I heard Tony for the first time in Milltown Malbay and was blown away by his musicianship - checkout . So it was with great pleasure all eleven of us were on stage. Oh - and the food was incredible as always!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Howth Festival

Jim and Jerry in Milltown - (early in the day!)

shanties, songs and music of the sea
Bean agus Fear an Tí
Siobhan Moore and Jerry O'Reilly
in the
Howth Sea Angling Club
West Pier
Saturday 15th July
2.30 - 5.30
The best of order is requested for all singers and musicians!
Well - it turned out to be an excellent day for all. At lunchtime, Francey a gathering of singers assembled inside Nicky's Place to sing sea shanties. Nicky's place is the best place to buy fresh fish in Howth. Of course more singers arrived and they had to move outside, where the singing went on for about an hour and a half! After lunch, the singers headed off to the Angling Club, where all the other singers and listeners arrived. And the most wonderful singing started up, with some music supplied by Sean óg McKenna on banjo with Andrew on guitar, and Graham played some wonderful Flamenco. The singing went on for about 3 and a half hours as the sun shone relentlessly outside - beautiful day!

Michael O'Domhnaill

Just before we left Milltown Malbay, we heard the shocking news of the death of Michael O’Domhnaill at the young age of 54. As soon as we heard the news, we played Casadh an tSugán and cried. He is such a huge loss – not only to his family, Maighread, Triona and Conal, and his close friends, and he had a lot of close friends, but he is a huge loss to the traditional music scene. Michael was a founder member of Skara Brae and of course the Bothy Band and one of the biggest influences on guitar playing in Irish music. As a friend of a friend said, he played the soundtrack to our youth. Nobody could deny that Michael O’Domhnaill’s songs and accompaniment were impeccable. I think he had a huge influence on many of us. He will be greatly missed.

Milltown Malbay 2006


I’ve been going to Milltown Malbay all my life because my mother is from down the road. I didn’t start going to the Willie Clancy week until 1984 (I think!) because during my late teens and early twenties I tended not to go on holiday with my parents. But after re-discovering traditional music in the early ‘80s I went down to the ‘Willie’ week for a weekend, and adored the atmosphere. The following year I think I went down for the first weekend and phoned in sick to work on the Monday, then again on the Tuesday, and then on the Wednesday I told them I wouldn’t be back to work till the following Monday! It was agony being back at work – and I swore that I would do the whole week in future.

By 1987 I ended up staying in ‘Clare Cottage’, a large tumbledown thatched cottage near Spanish Point. At the time the house was rented by my good friend Marie, later when Marie left Ireland for Paris, Eanna took over and then when he had more family commitments, Dec took over. So 20 years on, and we’re still there. It sleeps 10 comfortably with a bit of floor space for whoever falls over in the kitchen! The house has an interesting kitchen full of ‘stuff’ – like large empty bottles of whiskey, and loads of religious pictures – the living room is full of trinkets brought back from far off places, naff pictures on the wall, millions of cushions and just lots of ‘things’.

So 2006 – we arrived on Saturday, had a pizza and walked (yes I walked) down to the Armada to watch whatever world cup match was on. First night in Milltown I tend to go on the tear, which I successfully did, finding it difficult to walk home 5 hours later. The kitchen is so big and roomy that the full compliment of rentees can sit around it, drinking wine, playing music, taking photos, and generally having the craic. This goes on every night till after 2, with the latest being through the night, and the earliest being 2 ish. Apart from the house I didn’t hear much music that night. On Sunday, down the town, the weather was great - lots and lots of people around, mostly musicians – if I remember I was quite hungover. My daughter stays with a friend in White Strand so apart from bumping into her in the street, or of course when she wanted money, I didn’t see much of her at all for the whole week. She had a great holiday – apparently. I think things must have been better for a few days because I didn’t drink (much! – just wine at dinner). Some great sessions, Friels, Fahey’s, The Blonde’s, Malone’s, Marinans, all the pubs, I suppose it’s pretty amazing when you think of it. The standard of music is very high. I’ve been trying to remember what happened when - but I can’t – it’s only a week later! I know there was a great session out in Mullagh on the Wednesday with Paddy Keenan, Mick Coyne, Leo Rickard, Frances O’Rourke and Graham Dunne. It was actually wonderful being the designated driver. Oh and I went to McCarthy’s in Coore another night, again a great session with Mick Coyne, Angelina Carberry, Martin Quinn, John Rynne, and another wonderful piper called Tiernan something. There was some singing too, in Marinans. And the back of the Blondes was really wonderful, with the sun shining. A really great time on Tuesday there, with Alec Finn, all of Dordán, Sean Ryan, Tony Linnane, Angela Crehan and loads and loads more.

By Thursday the weather started to become dull, the town was getting more full, and the sessions were even better. The sessions back at the house were finishing later and later, and a visit from various members of the Lyons family made the party go on till 8 ish!

Friday night a bus was hired from the town to go to O’Looney’s for a great singing session, with Mick Quinn, Len Graham, John Tunney, Ron Kavanagh, Mick Coyne, Danny Mickey O’Suilleabháin and Joanie, the Cork crowd, lots of Goilineers – just a great singing session.

Saturday was an unbelievably wet day, actually probably the wettest I’ve ever seen in all my years there. Anybody who was in a pub, stayed there, and I understand some of the best sessions of the week were in the pubs that day. But a lot of us stayed in the house and listened to music, played scrabble, and drank wine – all day.
Sadly the week went all too quickly and it was over. Us three headed back to Ennis for the last session in Steeles before heading back to Dublin on Monday.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Three 60

As myself and Caoimhe head off to Milltown Malbay for the annual Willie Clancy week, I'm reminded to set my video to tape the first episode of the new series on RTE1, Three60 - a magazine style program which deals with people with disabilities - Monday 3rd July 7.30 ( The new presenter is none other than my sister's daughter, Seonaid. She is an amazing woman, a constant inspiration not only to our family but to everybody she meets. I'm proud that she has been chosen as the new presenter, as she will present these stories with great humour and compassion. Wish she was joining us in the 'house' in Spanish Point though!