The Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival is delighted to bring you the news that Seán Tyrrell, the well known singer from Galway, will headline the singing concert in Hartnett’s Bar on the Saturday of the festival and will also be contributing to the All Star concert on Sunday night.
By Conor O’Mahony
Widely revered as one of the finest interpreters of song and a native of the west of Ireland, Seán took his time before committing himself to record his first solo album.
He emigrated to New York in 1968 and put together a band Apples In Winter and recorded an album in 1974.
This did not last too long due to internal differences within the band. He later moved to San Francisco and began a solo career where he rubbed shoulders with some of the greats of the folk scene.
Eventually he tired of the road now having a young son and returning to Ireland in the late seventies he continued to work at his music, but seldom played professionally.
Based in The Burren
In 1978 he began working for University College Galway, based in the heart of the Burren in county Clare. He was invited to ‘guest’ on two albums with renowned uilleann piper Davy Spillane and having toured with Davy soon got a taste for the road again..
All of his time off the road had led to a huge catalogue of new material that he was now anxious to record.
It was during this time in his hide away in Clare that he first encountered, since his school days the amazing, forward thinking 18th century poem for all ages Cúirt An Mheán Oíche, The Midnight Court by Brian Merriman, translated by David Marcus.
It fascinated him – all 1,206 lines of it.
Druid Theatre Galway
He set it to music and approached the renowned Druid Theatre Galway with the idea of putting it on as traditional opera with a cast of ten musicians and singers.
Regarded by the critics as the hit of the Galway Arts Festival when Druid staged his opera in 1992. It went on to tour Ireland with more than 100 performances and in 2008 Seán took a two-man version to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to critical acclaim.
In 2012 it was staged for the first time in San Francisco as a solo piece.
Cry of A Dreamer
Cry of A Dreamer his first solo project recorded on his own label Longwalk Music, later released by Hannibal records/ Rykodisc worldwide in April 1994 shared a spotlight review with Bobby Mc Ferran on Billboard, voted Best Folk Album of the Year by both Folk Roots and Hotpress.
He has performed at major festivals and concert halls, TV and radio in Ireland, England, Europe, Australia and the USA,
In 1999 he released his much anticipated second solo effort, The Orchard and again, this met with great critical acclaim and was voted Best Overall Folk Act and the readers of Irish Music Magazine voted it Best Folk Album.
Michael Hartnett’s Poem
It was Michael Hartnett’s poem Belladonna in the Bar that gave him the title for his third CD Belladonna.
On the back of this album he provided the music for a documentary on the life and work of Michael Hartnett A Necklace Of Wrens.
He was invited by the curator of the Ypres museum Pete Chielans to set to music the poetry of Francis Ledwidge killed in the First World War. He collaborated with international musicians on Songs of Peace and recorded and performed them at concerts over two nights at Passendale cathedral. This was later released as a CD.
Three Solo CDs
A decade or so later and three solo CDs Seán launched in Ireland Rising Tide – The Collection. This comprised 16 tracks including a blend of familiar favourites and seven new tracks.
Message Of Peace A double CD on the life of one of Ireland’s unsung heroes John Boyle O’Reilly. Part spoken word, launched at The Galway Arts Festival 2009 and has toured extensively since around Ireland.
It has also toured the USA on two occasions with grant assistance from the Irish Arts Council and Culture Ireland.
Fast and Furious
Albums were now coming fast and furious with his release in 2011 of And So The story Goes with Kevin Glackin renowned fiddler and Ronan Browne Piper of Riverdance and Afro Celts fame.
Seán has toured in the past with: Liam Lewis, Steve Hanks, Tommy Peoples, Jack Geary, Fergus Feely, Kevin Glackin, Ronan Brown, Seán Potts, Paul Mc Grattan, Davy Spillane, Paddy Keenan, The Visit with Little John Nee and poet Mary O’Malley. Shaskeen and Kilfenora Ceili bands.
Moonlight On Galway Bay
“Now comes this masterpiece ‘Moonlight On Galway Bay,’ I suspect strongly we are looking at Male Vocal Album of the Year here,” – Bill Margeson Live Ireland.
“When he sings I feel alive,” – Brenda Fricker, Oscar winner. “The genuine article,” – Billboard US. “One of the country’s major folk voices,” – Irish Music Magazine.
We look forward to welcoming Sean to Castleisland the coming weekend.
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