Songs and a recitation from the Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie Collection
List of Tracks
I Hills of Clare, Tom Lenihan2:59
2 Little Ball of Yarn, Nora Cleary 1:21
3 Golden Glove, Martin Howley 3:43
4 Patrick Sheehan, Vincie Boyle 4:18
5 Peeler and the Goat, Martin Reidy 2:02
6 Banks of Sullane, 0llie Conway 5:39
7 Constant Farmer's Son, Tom Lenihan 5:12
8 Talk about belief in story, Tom Lenihan 0:53
9 Banks of the Nile, Pat MacNamara 2:39
10 Shannon Scheme, Nonie Lynch 2.27
11 Kerry *bleep*, Jamesie McCarthy 3:15
12 Lord Levett, Nora Cleary 4:51
13 Green Flag of Erin, Austin Flanagan 1:25
14 East Clare Election, Nora Cleary 1:14
15 Lismore Turkeys, Martin Reidy 4:08
16 May Morning Dew, Kitty Hayes 2:32
17 Banks of Sweet Dundee, 'Straighty' Flanagan 5:25
18 Blow the Candle Out, Martin Howley 2:23
19 Quilty Burning, Mikey Kelleher 1:47
20 Croppy Boy, Tom Lenihan 3:18
21 Maid of the Moorlough Shore, Martin Reidy 3:20
22 North Star, Martin Howley 4:57
23 Battle of Billingsgate, (recitation) Patrick Lynch 6:1
Total time: 77:51
1 Lilting, Nora Cleary 0:51
2 Doctor Crippen, Martin Howley 1:52
3 O'Reilly to America, Austin Flanagan
4 Child In The Budget, Martin Long
5 Three Brave Blacksmiths, Vincie Boyle 1:35
6 Caroline of Edinburgh, Tom Lenihan 2:36
7 Sprightly Young Damsel, 'Straighty' Flanagan 3:38
8 Mac and Shanahan, Nora Cleary 5:45
9 I Left my Hand, Pat MacNamara 1:16
10 The Old Armchair, Martin Howley 3:58
11 The Half Crown, Vincie Boyle 1:58
12 O'Reilly from the County Kerry, Martin Reidy 3:54
13 Daughter Dearest Daughter, Mikey Kelleher 2:39
14 Girl from Clahandine, Michael Flanagan 2:10
15 A Stór Mo Chroí, 0llie Conway 4:12
16 The Titanic, Jamesie McCarthy 2:41
17 My Good Looking Man, Nonie Lynch 3:52
18 Mr Woodburren’s Courtship, Pat MacNamara 4:14
19 Erin's Lovely Home, `Straighty' Flanagan 4:40
20 Donnelly, Martin Howley 2:59
21 Cailín Deas Cruite Na mBó, Tom Lenihan 3:58
22 Talk about ’the blas', Tom Lenihan 0:42
23 Tangaloni, Martin Reidy 2:23
24 Farewell To Miltown Malbay, Kitty Hayes 4:19
Total time: 77:50
Back in 1973, when we were camping at Spanish Point, we were fortunate to find our way out to Conway's Bar in Mullagh and meet 011ie Conway. Singer, dancer, farmer and publican, 011ie was the first person we recorded in Clare. The amazingly warm welcome 011ie gave to two complete strangers was a great confidence booster which gave us the courage to continue. He sang for us without hesitation and encouraged others in the bar to do the same. Today, 011ie at 82 is still singing, though his renowned set-dancing prowess would probably be a little too much for his pacemaker now.
All the singers here were recorded in Clare with the exception of Mikey Kelleher (1907-1987). Although born and reared in Quilty, he left for England in 1942, working in Bristol and Nottingham and eventually settling in London. We recorded him in Deptford, South East London, where he had lived since 1949. When we met him, he had retired from his work in the building trade; in Ireland Mikey had fished, gathered carrageen (seaweed), built curraghs and done farm work, though he had no land himself. While he was known locally in Clare as a dancer - a very good one - Mikey had absorbed many of the songs he had heard in his younger days. He also had a vast store of, often bawdy, yarns and shortened versions of popular folk tales which he loved to relate, usually after an evening of singing for us. Although we did not hear Mikey sing in the pub, he must have done so, as he was pointed out to us as a man with songs by one of the Irish Travellers we were recording at that time. It is remarkable and indicative of the love for and enjoyment of the songs, that Mikey still remembered them some 35 years after leaving his home place and living in a totally different environment. He stressed to us that "the old way of singing was best; you must always start at the root of the tree." Mikey died in London and his family home still stands on the edge of the Atlantic at Quilty.
Mikey's amazing memory for the old songs was shared by Tom Lenihan (1905-1990) who, on a number of occasions, after a little probing, faultlessly remembered and sang a song which he said he had not sung for some 40 years or more and had forgotten he ever knew. There was always a warm welcome from Tom and Margaret Lenihan in
their small thatched farmhouse in Knockbrack, just outside Miltown Malbay. Tom would talk and sing for visitors at any time, regardless of any farm work he had planned to do. After the beer was thrust into your hand - and before the tea was served - the tape recorder and microphone in position, Margaret would say, "Tom, the clock." The small, but loud alarm clock was duly stopped to ensure quiet during the recording; they had no telephone so that was no problem, and the grandchildren knew to creep in silently and remain so during the song. Tom had a very large repertoire and positive ideas about singing. He insisted that the story was most important aspect; the singer's involvement with the song was paramount. To him it was vital that the singer used speech pat-terns, made sense of the words, singing them as close as possible to the way one would speak; to fit the tune to the words, not to make the words fit the tune. One can appreciate why Tom had so many narrative songs in his repertoire; his attitude to singing is illustrated on the two tracks of speech. A selection of Tom's songs, recorded by Tom Munnelly, was published in book form in 1994 by Comhairle Bhéaloideas Eireann en-titled Mount Callan Garland, accompanied by a double cassette. An earlier album of our recordings of him was released by Topic Records in 1978 under the title Paddy's Panacea. Tom Lenihan also had a large store of folklore, much of which was also recorded by Tom Munnelly for the Department of Irish Folklore, UCD.
Nora Cleary's (1924-1988) small house at The Hand, some 5 miles from Miltown Mal-bay, now stands deserted and almost out of sight behind the bushes and undergrowth that have sprung up since her untimely death at 64. Nora's upbeat personality and love of singing and songs was infectious and she was an ever-popular performer at singing sessions in the area. She had lived and worked in England for some years and, at one time, was friendly with Travelling piper Felix Doran and his family.
Beyond the fact that Martin Long (1903-1981) was a retired farmer who lived at Cloontysmarra, between Miltown Malbay and Inagh, we know little about him. We met him on just two occasions and recorded him only once, during a singing session in Marrinan's pub in Miltown Malbay during the second Willie Clancy Summer School in 1974.
Michael `Straighty' Flanagan, (1893 - 1987) a lean, tallish man, lived with his older brother and sister-in-law in their farmhouse just outside Inagh village. In the early days of the Willie Clancy Summer School, he would come into town to sing at the Friday afternoon concert together with some of the other singers on the CDs, such as Tom Lenihan, Martin Reidy, Nora Cleary, etc. Michael, or'Straighty' as he was more usually known, was photographed by American photographer Dorothea Lange in the 1950s, and he once complained to us about American photographers who turned up, set up their equipment in the yard and began taking photographs without bothering to ask anybody's permission, or explain what they were doing. His photograph is to be found in Lange's collection, Ireland, published in 1996, where he is incorrectly identified as a 'seanachí' (storyteller). An album of 'Straighty's' songs, entitled Lone Shanakyle, was released by Outlet records in 1981 and he was also included in the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann cassette and book, Traditional Songs and Singers, along with Tom Lenihan, in 1977.
Martin Reidy (1901 - 1985), a bachelor, lived with his dog and cat, in the foothills of Mount Callan. His small farmhouse had neither running water nor electricity when we first visited in the 1970s and, in fact, was reduced to two rooms as the roof of the end room had collapsed. In a somewhat remote location, Martin relied completely on the travelling grocer's shop calling once a week. However, he was one of the most cheerful, happy and well adjusted people you could wish to meet. A man for the long songs, he loved to sing, to talk, and to discuss the old ways and the new. Songs were an important part of his life, and he once joked with us that he tried to teach his dog Topsy to sing in order to pass the songs on. Martin's lack of teeth can make understanding him a problem sometimes but persevere - you will get used to it and it's worth the effort.
Pat MacNamara, (1895-1977) was also lacking in the dental department and, unlike Martin Reidy, spoke very rapidly. A retired farmer and widower, living in a council cottage with his son, he was a small, wiry man with a great sense of humour and an infectious laugh.
Pat had not only a good number of songs but also a rich store of traditional tales which
he would fire off at a great rate, accentuating points in the story with a bang of his walking stick and always finishing with a loud "NOW." We recorded Pat's songs and tales either in the car or in the local bar. The proprietress, Mrs Considine, was a great friend of Pat's but, while she was happy for him to sing for us in the bar, she refused to allow him to tell stories. This dated back to his practice, in the past, of launching into one of his longest stories shortly before closing time and so preventing her from shutting up shop for the night. On our last visit to Pat in 1976, the day before we were due to leave Clare, he produced a list of songs and stories that he had not recorded for us saying, "If I'm not here next year when you come over, come up to the graveyard and I'll tell them up to you." He died on New Year's Day the following year.
Vincent (Vincie) Boyle, a native of Mount Scott, Mullagh, grew up on a farm, but left in 1978 to live in Miltown Malbay. Now in his fifties, he has sung all his life and comes from a musical and singing background; his father was a singer, his brother James is a whistle and harmonica player and many others of his family sang and played. His nephew is the well known flute player, Kevin Crawford. Vincie works as a general builder.
We visited Michael (born 1920) and Austin (born 1924) Flanagan only twice, so the information we have about them is some-what skimpy. Two bachelor brothers, they lived on their small farm with their sister Katie, a few miles from The Cliffs of Moher. Their townland, Luogh, features importantly in Clare folklore as it was where folklorist Seamus Delargy based much of his collecting from 1929 onwards. The Flanagan's home was in close proximity to where much of Delargy's work was done and they re-called seeing him on his visits.
Austin and Michael were extremely enthusiastic gatherers of songs and they told us how, when Travellers visited the area, all work on the farm would cease and they would go off to learn songs from them. They described how they used to write the songs down in a notebook which was kept in a drawer but, on enquiring whether it still existed, we were told that, whenever a neighbour was looking for the words of a song, the relevant page would be torn out and handed over and in this way the book gradually disappeared. Like many of the singers we met, they were insistent that the stories of the songs were more important than the tunes, so much so that over half of the songs we recorded from them were sung to the same tune, the one usually associated with The Rocks of Bawn and used here for O'Reilly to America.
Jamesie McCarthy, (1898-1977), born in Quilty, was known mainly as a singer of comic songs, though his repertoire did ex-tend beyond these. He came from a farming background, but worked for Clare County Council and The Board of Works.
Those who attended The Clancy School in 1976 have cause to remember with great affection, Jamsie's participation in that event. The recording of The Kerry *bleep* was made at the singers' concert that year.
Martin Howley of Fanore (1902-1981) was somebody we were able to visit on only three occasions, but each time we received a great welcome. He was a general labourer living in a council cottage in north Clare, on the edge of the Burren.
Martin was passionately interested in songs from a very early age and was more than happy to share them with anybody. He had an excellent memory, not only in being able to remember the songs but also where he first heard them, and he related several anecdotes about learning them. He got a number of them from Travellers, including the extremely rare Fair Margaret and Sweet William, which he knew as The Old Arm-chair. Our last visit to him, after we had heard he was very ill, was intended to be a short call to let him know we were thinking of him but soon the conversation got
round to song. On his asking if we had a tape recorder with us, we protested that we were not there to bother him, as he was ill, to which he replied, "But I want to give them to you - I'm a poor man and they are all I have to leave." It was very moving to see the importance Martin attached to the songs he had kept alive for so long, and we proceeded to record him for the last time. As well as being a singer with a large repertoire, Martin was also a fine old-style concertina player.
Now in her 70s, Kitty Hayes is among that band of marvellous women singers and musicians whose talents lay dormant for most of their lives while they married, raised a family and worked on the farm. Related by marriage to both Tom Lenihan and legendary Sligo fiddle player, Paddy Killoran, she comes from a solid musical background. As a youngster, she sang and played concertina in her home place of Fahanlunaghta, between Miltown Malbay and Ennistymon. In 1948, she married Josie Hayes, one of the resident musicians who played at Gleeson's bar in Coore, with Junior Crehan, Paddy Galvin, Michael Downes, etc, and who kept the music and dancing alive in the area. Kitty's concertina playing and singing took a back seat for a good many years but, after Josie's death and the family grown up, she blossomed once more and is now in great demand to sing and play in the locality at sessions, festivals and at The Willie Clancy Summer School. Three years ago, A Touch of Clare, a CD mainly of her concertina playing, with just one song, was issued locally.
At 94, Nonie Lynch is still singing with an energy and involvement that is to be envied by singers more than half her age. Until comparatively recently, she sang mainly at home and at family gatherings, but can now be heard occasionally at local sessions and, last year, she was a guest at the Clare Traditional Singing Weekend. Nonie is a first cousin of Tom Lenihan.
Born in 1954, Nonie's son Patrick is the youngest on these CDs. Originally inspired by an older brother who was renowned for his reciting of Dangerous Dan McGrew, and a neighbour, Michael Murrihey, who re-corded a number of recitations for him, Patrick has been performing them for thirty years. In 2000 he was a guest at the Cow-boy Poetry Gathering at Elko, Nevada. Patrick works as a self-employed plumber, mainly in the Miltown Malbay area.
We feel very privileged to have met, listened to and enjoyed the company of all the singers, musicians and storytellers that we have known over the years who have been so generous with their time, songs, music and stories. We all owe them a great debt of thanks for keeping their traditions alive and willingly passing them on, and feel sure that they would appreciate the appropriateness of the Royalties from the sale of these CDs going to the Irish Traditional Music Archive whose work, along with that of the Department of Irish Folklore, UCD, has ensured that they are not lost to future generations.