God be good to Con Houlihan. When Peter Browne interviewed him some years ago on matters of rushy mountains and racy music the result was encrusted with gems of wit and wisdom.
One of them was when the RTÉ presenter asked him about the exact boundaries of the original rushy mountain – Sliabh Luachra!
The great man replied that it was now nearly inside in Killarney and heading on down for Newcastle West in another direction. “’tis threatening to consume the whole country,” was Con’s summing up of a question that was, and still is, impossible to answer definitively.
Guess what? It’s influence is now firmly embedded in Holland. There’s a man there who spends a great deal of his time in the air as he travels to this wonderful part of Ireland in pursuit of the purity of the music here.
Returned to the Lowlands
Martin Van Hensbergen has just returned to the Lowlands after his latest trip to Kerry. This time it was to Scart and to the heritage centre there for The Man from Kanturk tribute to Jackie Daly. This was a live, onstage interview conducted by Matt Cranitch in front of an equally live and very full auditorium in the beautiful village.
Martin Van Hensbergen is playing the fiddle well for years now and, not happy with this accomplishment, he has now set himself the challenge of learning to play the box – and he will.
In his devotion and fervour for the music of this area he has put pen to paper in Holland and written of his experience of that great night in Scart that has so many people still talking.
Martin’s thoughts appeared on a site in Holland under the title: Quality Irish Traditional Music in the Netherlands, and subtitled: Promoting Irish Traditional Music in The Netherlands.
Irish TV filmed the lead-up to the event in Scart that night and screened the result last night, Wednesday, February 3rd.
The following is Martin’s piece – in the course of which he duly praises those most deserving for organising the event which attracted him all the way from Holland.
Trip to Scartaglen for lecture about Jackie Daly
In the weekend of the 23rd of January, I travelled all the way to Scartaglen, Co. Kerry, to attend an unique event! As part of the excellent “Handed Down“-series, fiddle player Matt Cranitch presented something what can best be described as “part-lecture, part-interview and part-concert” about the esteemed button-accordeon player Jackie Daly.
Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly have been playing together for many years now – they were part of an irishtradmusic concert series in 2014 – culminating in two CDs: ‘The Living Stream’ in 2010 and ‘Rolling On’ in 2014. Their musical experience and friendship together made Matt a great candidate to honour Jackie’s place in the history of Irish traditional music!
The format for the Handed Down sessions is usually part live music performances from musicians both in and outside the region combined with an invited speaker who dives deeper into an aspect of the music from the region. This session was started by the two very young musicians Caoimhe Flannery (fiddle) and Eimhear Flannery (concertina and tin whistle), who are award winners of the Sligo Fleadh Ceoil. They decided to play a wonderful rendition of two slides, the Brosna slide and the appropriately named Scartaglen slide, which captivated the audience immediately
After the initial tune, they both played a lovely solo on their respective instruments, including a slow air played on the tin whistle!
After that, Matt and Jackie took the stage. Whereas Matt was armed with a laptop, a fiddle and a beamer for the presentation, Jackie brought several different instruments with him. What followed were two hours of very unique material, from never-before-seen photographs to rare recordings of Jackies work. Much to everyone’s delight, Jackie was not just the passive subject of the night – instead, he often took the microphone in order to tell the stories about the photos or recordings.
The audience got to hear the story from the start of Jackie’s musical career – playing for dancers at the ‘Dance platforms’ – his various travels, group formations and many other life events. For Dutch people it was nice to hear that Jackie used to live in The Netherlands for a short while in the 60s/70s while working in the shipping industry. Rumour has it that he still speaks a word or two in that language as well!
In between the historical journey, Jackie and Matt played several sets of tunes that had a connection with a particular event or anecdote. Occasionally they were joined by other musicians like Paul de Grae, Geraldine O’Callaghan and Tim Browne.
Of special interest to the audience was the amount of technical knowledge Jackie has about the instrument. It turns out that he is not only an exceptional player, but also learned how to tune, adjust, improve and create button-accordeons! Highlight was his display of an accordeon that he had built himself from scratch which mimicked the sound of the ’20s accordeons. It can be heard on one of De Dannan’s CDs, but for this occasion he played it for the audience live! It turned out that it not only sounded great, but it looked fantastic as well as he did all the carvings and inlays himself!
It was also impressive to see Jackies long list of collaborations with various musicians and bands. Of course his collaborations with fiddle players Seamus Creagh, Kevin Burke and Matt Cranitch are well known and highly regarded. He was also part of many bands including De Dannan, Patrick Street and Buttons & Bows, the last of which released a new album last year after decades since their last album.
That Matt is quite the archeologist when it comes to Irish traditional music, proved his finding of this track from Thin Lizzy called ‘Beat of the Drum’. Scoring highly in the ranks of ‘places least likely to find traditional Irish music’, you will discover a recognisable snippet of music playing at the 1:20 mark:
The whole evening went by so fast and the audience, including myself, was amazed by the amount of information that had been displayed during the evening. Everybody concluded that it Jackie Daly indeed deserved this tribute as he is undoubtedly a great influencer and idol for many musicians – especially the C#/D players!
I would like to acknowledge the following people: Matt Cranitch for his permission on writing this article based on some of his work. PJ Teahan & the team of Handed Down for organising these events. Liz Galwey for the photographs of the night. – Martin Van Hensbergen.
Bryan O’Leary on Sliabh Luachra Icons
The next in the Handed Down series will be on Saturday night, February 13th. Then it will be the turn of 2014 TG4 Young Musician of the Year, Bryan O’Leary. Bryan will put the spotlight on the musicians of his own area in: Sliabh Luachra Icons – Remembering Gneeveguilla’s Musicians. Music on the night will be provided by Bryan himself along with: Colm Guilfoyle; Ciarán O’Sullivan; Connie O’Connell; Eibhlín de Paor; Joe O’Sullivan; Con Moynihan; Denis O’Connor; Vinny and Suzanne Cronin; Students of Killarney School of Music and there will be songs by Michelle and Aoife O’Sullivan. Admission: Adults €7 and children U-12 at €3. For more information simply click here: http://www.mainevalleypost.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/HD-Feb-13th-2016.jpg