And So It Goes

Alan Gilsenan docurmentary on Ivor Brown 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017 2:56:00 AM
  1. If you're in Ireland and staying inside until the rain washes over, there is a beautiful documentary by Alan Gilsenan titled "Meeting With Ivor". It's on rte 1 at 10.40. I meant to share this yesterday to enable more of you to record it. It's about psychiatrist, musician, and much more, Ivor Browne, now nearing ninety.
    Browne is a pioneer of mental health matters in Ireland, with decades of work in every aspect of the field. A number of familiar faces appear in this quirky a...nd challenging cinematic portrait including Tommy Tiernan, Sebastian Barry, and Tom Murphy.
    They say "tell them something they know, something they don't know; make them laugh, make them cry. This does all four.
    Saw it several months ago and loved it. Raw, real, human. They also say, "show, don't tell." This is beautifully illustrated when, I think Gigli, sings. The bliss experienced by Tom Murphy''s entire body soaking up each sublime note as he listens with Ivor, is uplifting and a joy to watch.
    Brian Friel, who used music and song wonderfully and sparingly in his plays, described music as "intravenous emotion".
    Master musician Tony MacMahon, on listening to Seamus Ennis on uilleann pipes, said that he then realised that
    "music is magic and a spiritual experience that cannot be taught in any university. It is beyond that."
    Tom Murphy listening to Gigli said the same, without uttering a word.
    I recommend watching on player for the nexst three weeks.
    Well done, Ivor, Alan and all involved.

    See more
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1913 Lockout - A Solidarity Gathering. Liberty Hall, Dublin. Sunday 22nd September 2013. 

Saturday, February 08, 2014 2:14:00 PM

Photo: September 1913
What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone?
For men were born to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.

Yet they were of a different kind,
The names that stilled your childish play,
They have gone about the world like wind,
But little time had they to pray
For whom the hangman's rope was spun,
And what, God help us, could they save?
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.

Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.
What a wonderful night last Sunday in, appropriately enough, Liberty Hall Theatre, where “September 1913”, an evening of music, song, poetry and reflections on the 1913 Lockout was performed. 

 Cathaoirleach of the Larkin Hedge School, Séamus Dooley, Evening’s Director Des Geraghty, and all involved personnel of SIPTU are to be complimented for this one-off memorable evening inspired by W.B. Yeats’s “September 1913”. 

Peter Browne on Uilleann Pipes, with Steve Cooney and band set the tone for this wonderful evening. Singers Tommy Sands, Len Graham and Mary McPartlan rendered very special interpretations of songs pertinent to the occasion. 
Sabina Higgins, with her husband President Michael D. Higgins very happy to be in her shadow, reverted seamlessly to actor mode as she recited from Maud Gonne, Countess Markievicz, and Louis Bennett, “The Irish Citizen”.  A real tour de force. 

 Stella Larkin recited her poem “Sun and Shadow”, in memory of her grandfather, Jim Larkin. James Connolly Heron quoted from his grandfather, James Connolly. Poet Theo Dorgan recited pieces alluding to those turbulent times.

 Fiddle player Liam O’ Connor on fiddle weaved his bow under the magical spell of the Evening’s Musical Director, genial Steve Cooney. Joan Lafferty, stage manager for the evening , made it all look easy; the hallmark of the master. 

I sang a few songs.  President Michael D. and I chatted about “Mo Ghile Mear”, and how it resonates with us Irish. We agreed on the importance of not to rushing through its lyrics. “When it’s performed too quickly” he added, “it doesn’t have the element of loss”, deftly articulating a full understanding of the song. How lucky we are to have him as President.

Comhgháirdeachas, congratulations to everyone, including a warm, discerning audience for memorably recalling this immortal month in Irish history.

September 1913
 

What need you, being come to sense,
B
ut fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone?
For men were born to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.

Yet they were of a different kind,
The names that stilled your childish play,
They have gone about the world like wind,
But little time had they to pray
F
or whom the hangman's rope was spun,
And what, God help us, could they save?
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.

Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?

Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.

 

What a wonderful night last Sunday in, appropriately enough, Liberty Hall Theatre, where “September 1913”, an evening of music, song, poetry and reflections on the 1913 Lockout was performed.

Cathaoirleach of the Larkin Hedge School, Séamus Dooley, Evening’s Director Des Geraghty, and all involved personnel o
f SIPTU are to be complimented for this historic memorable evening inspired by W.B. Yeats’s September 1913.


Peter Browne on Uilleann Pipes, with Steve Cooney and band set the tone for this wonderful evening. Singers Tommy Sands, Len Graham and Mary McPartlan rendered very special interpretations of songs pertinent to the occasion.
Sabina Coyne Higgins, with her husband President Michael D. Higgins in proud, rapt, attendance, reverted seamlessly to actor mode as she recited from Maud Gonne, Countess Markievicz, and Louie Bennett, The Irish Citizen. A real tour de force.

Stella Larkin recited her poem Sun and Shadow, in memory of her grandfather, Jim Larkin.

James Connolly Heron quoted from his grandfather, James Connolly. Poet Theo Dorgan recited extracts alluding to those turbulent times.

Fiddle player Liam O’ Connor weaved his magic under the  spell of  genial Musical Director,  Steve Cooney. Joan Harman, stage manager, seamlessly executed the programme.

I sang a  number of songs. President Michael D. Higgins and I chatted about Mo Ghile Mear, and how it resonates with us Irish. We agreed on the importance of not rushing through its lyrics. “When it’s performed too quickly” he added, “it lacks the element of loss”, deftly articulating a full understanding of the song. How lucky we are to have a fellow artist as President.

Congratulations to all, including a warm audience, for memorably and musically marking this momentous era in Irish history.

 

 

Seamus Heaney Left Us Last Friday. 

Wednesday, September 04, 2013 6:22:00 PM
Seamus Heaney left us last Friday.  It is not natural for the human condition to say goodbye. To let go.  And in this case it was proving even more difficult. Seamus Heaney was always going to be part of our lives. Our constant. Our poetic touchstone. 
There was an air of mostly unrelenting sadness in The Church of the Sacred Heart in Dublin, and in the sunlit grounds outside where all lingered for more than an hour.
And then, home is the hero to Derry where he has just spent his first night in the soil of his beloved Bellaghy. Next to his brother Christopher Heaney who died in a road accident, aged four.

 
... A four foot box. A foot for every year.
 
The same soil which honed his poem, Digging.
 
Between my finger and thumb, the squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down...

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.


Chief celebrant and family friend, Monsignor Brendan Devlin, opened by telling us that he felt that Seamus might “like the funeral Mass to be celebrated in an Ulster accent”. He added that “Heaney could speak to the King of Sweden or an Oxford don or a south Derry neighbour in the directness of a common and shared humanity."

 
Music can evoke a memory, a person, a place, an emotion, in seconds. And so it was yesterday for the congregation of friends and admirers whose presence included President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina, both notable artists themselves, and so many other artists known and unknown. Even more so for Marie and family as they listened to Seamus’s favourite music whilst gracefully and publicly grappling with their individual private grief.
 
Táimse im’ Chodladh is ná Dúisfear mé (I Am Sleeping and Don't Awaken Me) played by fellow northerner friend Neil Martin on cello and another of Seamus’s great friends Liam O’ Flynn on uilleann pipes, serenaded the Service’s opening moments. As this gentle air rambled round the church, its lyrics which as we know are about routing unwelcome neighbours from our land, evoked quiet discerning smiles.
Musician and brother of Marie, Barry Devlin, read the Responsorial Psalm whose last lines were::

 
Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
All the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
For ever and ever.
 
Slieve Gallon Braes followed. Slieve Gallon Braes of course, is his local landscape in South Derry where he played, before taking his leave.
...Oft times in the evenings and the sun in the west
I roamed hand in hand with the one I love best
But the dreams of youth have vanished and I am far away
So farewell unto ye bonny, bonny Slieve Gallon Braes...

 
Next, we left Dublin and headed to Tipperary and Seán Ó Duibhir a’ Ghleanna, whose theme is very similar to the first musical offering.
After that, on to Kerry and Liam’s uilleann pipes capturing the hauntingly beautiful Port na bPucaí, (The Music of the Fairies), from the Blasket Islands. It is said that islanders heard this mystical music, and they, thinking that it was the voices of troubled spirits in the body of water between Dún Chaoin and the Blasket Islands, (called The Blasket Sound), composed this air using the notes they had heard, in an attempt to placate the ghosts.
 
Tony MacMahon also, has a magnificent rendition of it which is available on utube.  On closing our eyes and opening our ears, we’re transported back several Irish centuries.
Another personal choice of Seamus for the occasion was Brahm’s Lullaby, whose soothing notes and tonal beauty from Neil were comforting just then. Seamus of course would have selected it also because of the gaelic suaintrí which has the same air.
Suanmhar sítheach go lá
‘Measc na lilí ‘sna mbláth.
Go mbeir-se a stór
Gan tuirse gan brón.


May you have peaceful slumber till dawn
Among the lilies and the flowers.


Michael Quinn’s sympathic organ playing provided perfect sorbets for Neil and Liam’s soulful interpretations of Seamus’s favourite pieces.
Friend Peter Fallon recited The Given Note, thought to be Seamus’s response to Port na bPucaí, and written in full on the back of the very simple Mass Leaflet, titled: A Celebration of the life of Seamus Heaney.
Shortly after the final liturgical farewell “May flights of angels take thee to thy rest”, Seamus was facing Derry. Home.
 
Mo Ghile Mear, a rousing and poignant lament about leaving, accompanied him through the last earthly portal through which he would pass. Many of the congregration quietly joined in its chorus. As he was wheeled past the family I felt that this was his final tribute to Marie. Mo Ghile MearMy Steadfast Hero. Mo Ghile Marie.
 
Seamus spoke at Ciarán MacMathúna’s funeral a few years ago. He described Ciarán’s weekly programme Mo Cheol Thú and alluded to that mellifluous voice which sent us to sleep several times between 8 and 9 each Sunday Morning for over 35years.  Of Ciarán’s voice, Seamus said that “The quiet in it spoke to the quiet in you."
 
A similar quietude prevailed yesterday. Often, there is great dignity in silence. And all of the Service’s elements, in part because they came from, and went into, silence, were beautiful.

“I suppose you want to talk to head-the-ball”, said a teenage MIchael Heaney to Paul Muldoon when Paul rang the house some years ago. Poet and friend spoke of Heaney’s sense of humour. When fitted with a monitored, electronic timing device some years ago, Muldoon said that Heaney “took an almost unseemly delight in announcing ‘Blessed are the pacemakers’. ”
Son Michael added that “minutes before he died, Seamus texted Marie with these words:
“Noli timere”. No need to worry. Don’t be afraid.” Was he, I wonder, hearing the music and the words of “Be not afraid. I go before you always”?

 
A heartfelt homage to a wonderful and talented human being. So privileged to have been there.
 
May that soil rest lightly o’er you, Seamus, genial gentle man, gentleman.
Photo: Seamus Heaney left us yesterday. It is not natural for the human condition  to say goodbye. To let go. And in this case, it was proving even more difficult. Seamus Heaney was always going to be part of our lives. Our constant. Our poetic touchstone.
  There was an air of mostly unrelenting sadness in The Church of the Sacred Heart in Dublin, and in the sunlit grounds outside where all lingered for more than an hour. 
And then, home is the hero to Derry where he has just spent his first night in the soil of his beloved Bellaghy. Next to his brother Christopher who died in a road accident, aged four.
   “...A four foot box. A foot for every year”.
The same soil which honed his poem,“Digging”.
  Between my finger and thumb, the squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down...

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Chief celebrant and family friend, Monsignor Brendan Devlin, opened by telling us that he felt that Seamus might “like the funeral Mass to be celebrated in an Ulster accent”. He added that “Heaney could speak to the King of Sweden or an Oxford don or a south Derry neighbour in the directness of a common and shared humanity.” And he must have felt very secure as he uttered those words, for all humanity was there in front of him. 
Music can evoke a memory, a person, a place, an emotion, in seconds. And so it was yesterday for the congregation of friends and admirers, amongst whom, so many artists, known and unknown. Even more so for Marie and family as they listened to Seamus’s favourite music whilst gracefully and publicly grappling with their private grief. 
 “Táimse im’ Chodladh is ná Dúisfear mé”, played by fellow northerner Neil Martin on cello and Seamus’s great friend Liam O’ Flynn on uileann pipes, serenaded the Service’s opening moments. As this gentle air went round the church, its lyrics which, as we know, are about routing unwelcome neighbours from our land, evoked quiet smiles.
Musician and brother of Marie, Barry Devlin, read the Responsorial Psalm whose last lines are:
Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
All the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
For ever and ever.
 “Slieve Gallon Braes” followed. Slieve Gallon Braes of course, his local landscape in South Derry where he played, before taking his leave.
“...Oft times in the evenings and the sun in the west
I roamed hand in hand with the one I love best
But the dreams of youth have vanished and I am far away
So farewell unto ye bonny, bonny Slieve Gallon Braes...”
Next, we left Dublin and headed to Tipperary and “Seán Ó Duibhir a’ Ghleanna”, whose theme is very similar to the first musical offering.  
After that, on to Kerry and Liam’s haunting interpretation of “Port na bPucaí”, (The Music of the Fairies), from the Blasket Islands. It is said that islanders heard this mystical music, and they, thinking that it was the voices of troubled spirits in the body of water between Dún Chaoin and the Blasket Islands, (called The Blasket Sound), composed this air using the notes they had heard, in an attempt to placate the ghosts.
 Liam’s interpretation on uileann pipes, as well as the entire Service, can be got on Rte Player. Tony MacMahon also, has a magnificent rendition of it which is available on utube. It is truly a very special piece which, I think anyway, grows more special with each hearing.  On closing our eyes and opening our ears, we’re transported back several Irish centuries.
 Another personal choice of Seamus for the occasion was Brahm’s Lullaby, whose soothing notes and tonal beauty from Neil were comforting just then. Seamus of course would have selected it also because of the gaelic suaintrí which has the same air.
Suanmhar sítheach go lá
‘Measc na lilí ‘sna mbláth.
Go mbeir-se a stór
Gan tuirse gan brón.

“May you have peaceful slumber till dawn
  Among the lilies and the flowers”.

 Michael Quinn’s sympathic organ playing provided perfect sorbets for Neil and Liam’s soulful interpretations of Seamus’s favourite pieces.
Friend Peter Fallon recited “The Given Note”, thought to be Seamus’s response to “Port na bPucaí”, and written in full on the back of the very simple Mass Leaflet, titled: A Celebration of the life of Seamus Heaney.
Shortly after the final liturgical farewell “May flights of angers take thee to thy rest”, Seamus was facing Derry. Home. Mo Ghile Mear”, a rousing and poignant lament about leaving, accompanied him through the last earthly portal through which he would pass. Many of the congregration quietly joined in its chorus. As he was wheeled past the family I felt that this was his final tribute to Marie. Mo Ghile Mear, “My Steadfast Hero”. 
Seamus spoke at Ciarán MacMathúna’s funeral a few years ago.  He described Ciarán’s weekly programme “Mo Cheol Thú” and especially that mellifluous voice which sent us to sleep several times between 8 and 9 each Sunday Morning for over 30 years. Of Ciarán’s voice, Seamus said that “The quiet in it spoke to the quiet in you”. Heaney at his best. Again.  
 A similar quietness prevailed yesterday. Often, there is great dignity in silence. And all of the Service’s elements, in part because they came from, and went into silence, were beautiful. 

 

 “I suppose you want to talk to head-the-ball”, said a teenage Michael to Paul Muldoon when Paul rang the Heaney house some years ago. Poet and friend spoke of Heaney’s sense of humour. When fitted with a monitored, electronic timing device some years ago, Muldoon said that Heaney “took an almost unseemly delight in announcing ‘Blessed are the pacemakers’.” 
Son Michael added that “minutes before he died, Seamus texted Marie with these words: 
“Noli timere”. No need to worry. Don’t be afraid.” Was he, I wonder, hearing the music and the words of “Be not afraid. I go before you always”? 
 A heartfelt homage to a talented and wonderful human being. So privileged to have been there. May that soil rest lightly o’er you, Seamus.

 

Noel O' Grady and other artists with President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina at Áras an Uachtaráin on Bloomsday, 16th June, 2013. 

Monday, June 24, 2013 1:48:00 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun and frolics on the Áras lawn prior to performing in the Hyde Theatre for the President, his wife sabina, and guests. 

Sabina of course was an accomplished actress with the Focus Theatre.

She and cast were once about to perform Joyce's only published play titled "Exiles" when a certain Stephen Joyce pulled the plug shortly before its scheduled opening.

How wonderful to be able to sing openly his wondrous prose, poetry and song, since 1 January, 2012.

The Dubliners' Final Concert - Sunday 30 December 2012, in Vicar St. Dublin 

Thursday, January 10, 2013 1:56:00 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a seanfhocal, or old Irish Saying which says  -  Níl i ngach rud ach seal. There is in everything but a passing phase. Even after a half a century. And so it came to pass.

The Dubiners have played their final gig. They bowed out (pictured) proudly and in style.

Jim McCann introduced the Evening and the air went moist.  A tour de force concert followed with John Sheahan, Seán Cannon, Eamonn Campbell, Patsy Watchhorn and Gerry O' Conner in the zone. Ceoladh joined them on her fiddle for her dad's Marino Waltz.  Past and passed on members, Barney McKenna, Luke Kelly, Ronnie Drew, Ciarán Bourke, Bobby Lynch, Jim McCann and Paddy O' Reilly were fondly remembered.

Captain John Sheahan, homeward bound and under Barney's seafaring eye, gently steered their ship towards harbour for the last time.

The Evening was laced with emotional moments, wonderful entertainment, and the inevitable sprinkling of Dublinese,  much of it from the floor. We'll miss that too.

Harry Crosbie came from the arena into the bar and excitedly announced that there were several bearded Barney lookalikes in the audience, all women, from Norway, I wouldn't miss this occasion, beamed the proud dubliner.

Towards the end, each member said a few parting words. And what an eclectic mix of followers. Backstage afterwards included economist Colm McCarthy and a Jedward, in conversation. No, different conversations : )

Whilst performing in Germany myself a year ago, I saw The Dubliners in The Tempodrom in Berlin. Almost 3,000 fans and the place rocked. A high percentage of that audience had been, or were intending to visit Ireland.  Mindful that The Dubliners had been doing this all around Europe and much further afield for almost 50 years, I thought, what ambassadors.

Con Houlihan described them as leaves from different trees blown together by the wind that changed the world of music a generation ago. Some forest.

                                                                       So now my gentle tigers

                                                              Burning in the forest of no yearning

                                                                           Walk on serenely ...

 

 

Oireachtas Na Gaeilge 2012 

Saturday, November 03, 2012 1:30:00 AM

  

Sunday, 4 November. Just back from Oireachtas Na Gaeilge, 2012, in Donegal.

It took place in Letterkenny this year. And Donegal is always magical. I soldiered on the Border there for several years.

Traditional Irish music is amazing in that it brings young and old, beginners and seasoned performers, naturally together.

On Friday evening, 2 November, I was privileged to partake in and win Craobh Chonaill Uí Fhearraigh, presented by Aisteoirí Ghaoth Dobhair, for unaccompanied traditional singing in Irish.

Agus seans chun ár dteanga a chleachtadh.

Jimmy's winning matches : )

 

Attending Noel''s Concert: Portrait of a Singer: Ode to Joyce, in 15 Usher's Island.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012 3:32:00 AM

Pictured attending singer Noel O' Grady's one man show, Portrait of a Singer: Ode to Joyce in 15 Usher's Island, were Edward O' Rourke,  John Sheahan, Noel O' Grady, and Declan O' Rourke.

Noel's five concerts run from Tuesday, 12th June, to Saturday, 16th June, Bloomsday, at 8.pm nightly.

Also among those who attended were delegates from The Joyce International Symposium, currently taking place  in U.C.D. and Trinity College                                                                                                                                                         

Thursday 14 th June RTE Programme "The Works" visits 15 Ushers Island 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 3:34:00 AM

 

On Thursday 14th June, on RTE 1, Noel O' Grady will perform The Lass of Aughrim in RTE's The Works  in celebrations of the 25th anniversary of John Huston's lovingly recreated The Dead, James Joyce's short story of the same name.

In this recreated DInner Scene,  Stephen Rea will act as Gabriel.

Kate O' Toole, (pictured here with Noel O' Grady), who featured in the film will recall why it was such an enjoyable experience for her. Peter Sheridan is interviewed. The show was recorded by kind permission of  Brendan Kilty S.C.


Pictured are Noel and Kate O' Toole .

President Michael D. Higgins, his wife Sabina, Stephen Rea, and Noel O' Grady at the Temple Bar Tradfest 2012 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012 9:12:00 PM

Pictured at The Temple Bar Tradfest 2012, President Michael D. Higgins, his wife Sabina,  Noel O' Grady who was one of the Festival's headline acts, and  Festival Patron, actor and director, Stephen Rea.

This festival now in its 7th year was a huge success with Headline Concerts by The Dubliners who were kicking off their 50th Anniversary Celebrations, Ralph McTell, Noel O' Grady, Moya Brennan, Cór Chúil Aodha, and Michael McGoldrick.

Over 60, 000 attended during its 5 days when more than 900 artists performed.

The inclusion, for the first time, of City Hall as a venue proved an immense success.

 

 

Centennial of Myles na gCopaleen 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 7:20:00 PM

Minister Jimmy Deenihan,  Liam  Ahern, of the Palace Bar,   Jarlath Dal,  sculptor.The centennial of the birth of Brian Ó Nualláin, or Flann O' Brien as he was better known, was celebrated on 5th October last, inside and outside The Palace Bar, in Fleet Street, in central Dublin. 

Minister of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mr Jimmy Deenihan gave an unscripted, interesting, and entertaining speech before officially unveiling the bronze pavement installations.

The installations depict four great literary Irish figures: Patrick Kavanagh, Brendan Behan, Brian Ó Nualláin, and Con Houlihan.

Jarlath Daly is the artist who produced the casts.

The event was well attended by admirers, and in some cases, friends of Myles. Among the attendance were two well known Dubliners, Bertie Ahern, and newly appointed Senator, Eamon Coughlan.

                                                                           

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