Tralee musician and broadcaster, Máire O’Keeffe travelled the back roads and mountain tracks of Sliabh Luachra in the company of legendary fiddler, Maurice O’Keeffe in the early 1990s
She met and recorded some of the great musicians of that time and she will talk about and play a selection from her recordings at the Handed Down session at Scartaglin Heritage Centre on this Saturday night December 12th from 8pm sharp.
Máire’s recording catalogue includes tunes from: Paddy and Willie O’Connell, Cordal; Dan Jeremiah O’Connor and Ned O’Connor, Scartaglin; John Spillane, Scartaglin; Sonny Riordan Tureencahill; Maurice O Keeffe, Kiskeam and many more.
Máire O’Keeffe’s time in broadcasting with RTÉ Radio One spanned from 1990 to 1992 when she was the researcher, scriptwriter and presenter of ‘The Long Note’ – one of RTE Radio One’s longest running traditional music programmes. She has also worked with Clare FM on a number of its traditional music programmes.
Potency of the Music
It’s often at gatherings like Handed Down that we’re reminded of the potency of the music of Sliabh Luachra.
Where devotees and exponents mix and meet and come to realise yet again that, after all these years, we’re still Under the Influence of the greats of our area.
The late Ciarán MacMathúna implored all within earshot at the Crown Hotel on the Sunday evening of the first Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival in 1993 to ‘Mind the Music’ – and he meant it – most sincerely.
He was there in support of his RTÉ Radio 1 colleague and festival founder, Peter Browne and they launched a CD of the music of Patrick O’Keeffe on that special evening.
Gaeltacht Múscraí singer, Joe Creedon made a similar appeal to the audience at the Scartaglin Heritage Centre on the Saturday night of last month’s Handed Down programme.
Similar in that he appealed for a greater local involvement in what PJ Teahan, Mick Culloty and Tomás MacUileagóid are doing with the Handed Down initiative in Scart on one Saturday night per month.
Levels of Support
From the acts that led up to his three great songs, he wouldn’t have anything to worry about the future of the music and the hands it has been entrusted to. He did, though, express his concerns about the levels of support for such a high quality, high ranking line-up in an ideal setting like this.
Joe did appeal to the audience on Saturday night to spread the word and gather more support for the events lined up from here until next May’s World Fiddle Day celebrations in the village.
The night was presented by Ballyduff native and box player, Graham Guerin. Graham followed in the MCing footsteps of local musician, Emma O’Leary who presented the October programme.
It’s the empathy, the knowledge and the understanding of a fellow musician that takes these hand picked, guest presentations beyond the ordinary and into an arena of pure competence, insightful commentary and discernment.
Before he let the musicians loose on the might’s proceedings, Graham sent his condolences across the Shannon and he remembered Lissycasey, Co. Clare born musician, Dympna O’Sullivan who had died during the week leading up to the event in Scart.
Round of Applause
After his cúpla focal there wasn’t silence but a round of applause – a tribute which the late concertina player would have been far more familiar with during her short life.
The music was delightful all night from Saoirse Teahan’s audience welcoming tunes to the finale by Liam Flanagan and Derek Hickey.
The late Seamus Creagh was fittingly represented there by his partner, Marie Annick and his famous ‘Lion Head’ fiddle was there for all who dared to play a tune on it.
It was no accident either that the wonderfully delivered music came, predominately from buttons and bows and their immediate varieties.
Seven Glens, Maura O’Connor and Conor Daly, Aidan Coffey and Geraldine O’Callaghan and the afore mentioned Flanagan and Hickey are all widely acknowledged as true and worthy carriers of the Sliabh Luachra flame.
It was Hickey’s thought provoking thinking-out-loud about the playing methods employed by Patrick O’Keeffe on The Kerry Fiddles recording by Seamus Ennis from September 1952 that brought the potency of this music home to us again – but in a new light.
It made us think that its potency is working away in areas yet to be discovered and that maybe we should listen again with a fresh ear for the type of almost archaeological detail he Derek Hickey spoke so reverentially about.
That reverence carried over into the playing of the tunes by himself and Liam Flanagan. They treated what they were doing with the kind of care and love that goes with the signing of a will for ones most precious possessions to be Handed Down.
That we’re still Under the Influence some 63 years on – in the case of the Kerry Fiddles recording – that’s some stuff.
Find out more about this Saturday night’s guest, Máire O’Keeffe with a click on the link here: http://www.irishworldacademy.ie/okeeffe-maire/