The Late Desmond ‘Dessie’ O’Halloran, Inishbofin and Galway

Castleisland publican, Seán Brennan (right) pictured with Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival players and patrons, from left: Dan Breen, Larry Joy, Peter Horan, Dessie O’Halloran, Jackie Daly and Francis O’Halloran.
©Photograph: John Reidy 30/10/2005

May God be good to the two of them now but one of the most memorable days of music – of the many I’ve enjoyed – the Saturday away back in the spring of 2003 in Brennan’s Bar in Killarney Road stands out still.

It was a day on which the late Dessie O’Halloran from Inishbofin and our own Jackie Dan Jerry O’Connor sat down together near the fire and played throughout the afternoon. They gelled.

That session, and Dessie’s presence here, was the work of Rose Halsall as part of the Samhlaoicht Chiarraí festival of 2003.

Visit to Bofin

And out of that came the invitation from Dessie to a group of us gathered there that day to visit Bofin.

Seán Brennan led a gang of us up there and we had a great, music filled weekend.

When I heard this morning that Dessie had flown away, the first thing that came into my head was the prospect of Jackie greeting him at the big gates and saying, in typical laid back Jackie, ‘What kept you.’

An Emergency Meeting

The late Mike Kenny flashed across my inner screen too as there would have been an emergency meeting called at Sheila Prendiville’s Bar and Grocery after the rugby match this morning and meticulous travel plans would have to be put in place for the funeral up the west.

It was the same Mike Kenny who introduced me to the music and distinctive, Cajun like, style of Dessie O’Halloran.

Genuinely Impromptu Session

On the recommendation of another musician, he was invited to the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival nearly 20 years ago.

After the concert that year there was a genuinely impromptu session on stage where Dessie was joined by Matt Cranitch and Cathal Hayden and Frankie Gavin and friends for a rousing rendition of Dessie’s Say You Love Me.

Close Call at Cleggan

Mr. Kenny got a copy of the recording from one of the sound men and that tape earned its keep in the Kenny household ever after.

Then there was the evening when we nearly missed the last ferry to Bofin from Cleggan Pier only that Dessie’s cousin, Mikey Joe Halloran spotted us and reversed back to the pier and extended a hand of genuine friendship.

Bottle and Draught

I’d love to think that they’ll all meet up yonder and the exciting sound of fiddle and accordion cases unclasping will fill the air.

Kenny, thumbs inside the waistcoat, wondering when the bar will open and sussing out the quality of the porter – bottle and draught – from the natives.

The corner inside the back door of Tig Cóilí in Galway’s Latin Quarter won’t be the same without the prospect of Dessie appearing quietly.

Asked at his 70th. birthday celebrations as to what he put his continuing good health down to, he replied: ‘I don’t know, it must be the Guinness, it isn’t from eating anyway.’

May God be good to them all.

Funeral Arrangements

The death has occurred of Desmond (Dessie) O’Halloran, Madeira Court , Mill Street, Galway City, Galway / Inishbofin, Galway. Formerly of Middle Quarter, Inishbofin, Co. Galway.

Beloved brother of the late Mary Jo, Bridie, Leo, Christy, Vincent, Malachy and Gabriel.

Sadly missed by his sister Bernadette (USA). Deeply regretted by his nieces and nephews, friends and the music community. Rest in peace.

Reposing at Conneely’s Funeral Home, Flood Street, this Monday, 30th September, from 2.30pm. Removal at 4.30pm to Inishbofin, via ferry departing at 6.45pm from Cleggan pier.

Prayers to be held upon arrival at St. Colman’s Church. Funeral Mass on Wednesday, 2nd of October, at 1pm, burial afterwards in St. Colman’s Cemetery.

May He Rest In Peace.

Date Published: Sunday 29th September 2019. Date of Death: Saturday 28th September 2019.