Craic with the ‘Ceol’, 20 years down the road

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - NEWS - By DE­CLAN MALONE

TWENTY years ago they were a bunch of young­sters on a song and dance tour across Australia and at the week­end they got to­gether again to catch up on each other’s lives, rem­i­nisce about their eye-open­ing time on the road to­gether and, of course, to play a few tunes.

They were the mem­bers of Ceol Chiar­raí who lugged their in­stru­ments and danc­ing shoes to Shan­non on April 15, 1995, flew to Lon­don, on­wards to Perth and then em­barked on a gru­elling bus and plane sched­ule that brought them across South Australia, via Ade­laide, Can­berra and Syd­ney to Bris­bane. There fol­lowed a stop in Sin­ga­pore and an­other in Dubai, where they played at a Rose of Tralee se­lec­tion night, be­fore they got back home, a month older and years wiser.

The tour was or­gan­ised by Ceol Chiar­rai founder Micheál Carr, now based in Bally­bunion and coin­ci­den­tally cur­rently or­gan­is­ing a Ceol Chiar­rai-style sum­mer res­i­dency in Kil­lar­ney’s INEC, It was a tough month of in­ter­minable travel, re­hearsals, sound checks and gigs at venues rang­ing from ma­jor the­atres to lost com­mu­nity halls.

On Fri­day night in the Sham­rock Bar in New­castlewest they re­mem­bered the craic, the ban­ter and the late night es­capades that helped forge life-long friend­ships. They re­mem­bered be­ing con­stantly wrecked and es­pe­cially they re­called the warm hos­pi­tal­ity of the host fam­i­lies who pro­vided ac­com­mo­da­tion and home com­forts along the way.

With the ex­cep­tion of teacher Maura Walsh from Lix­naw, mu­sic is no longer a full time oc­cu­pa­tion for the mem­bers of that Ceol Chiar­rai out­fit - but it does re­main a pas­sion in their lives.

Diar­muid O’Brien from Glin, now living in New­castlewest and work­ing as a Garda sergeant in Clare, was a cham­pion fid­dle player as a teenager; he still is and demon­strated that on a CD he re­leased a cou­ple of years ago. His fel­low Glin na­tives, Pa Fo­ley and Matthew Reidy, work as dairy farmer and quan­tity sur­veyor re­spec­tively but the box and banjo are never far away. Deirdre Scan­lon from Mon­agea, New­castlewest, lives in Co­rofin, works as a Garda in En­nisty­mon and is still the song­bird she was 20 years ago. Con Forde, from and still living in Mill­street, is now a painter. He doesn’t play the pipes much th­ese days - ex­cept for wed­dings and fu­ner­als. Caro­line Daly from New­castlewest sees a lot of the world as a Bri­tish Air­ways air host­ess. She dances ‘now and again’; Fri­day night in the Sham­rock was one of those oc­ca­sions. She hasn’t lost it!

The Ker­ry­man was in­vited by Micheál Carr to send a re­porter on that trip to Australia - it was the jun­ket of a life­time that turned into some­thing of a job as a roadie along the way. Right and proper then to join the re­u­nion. Not every­body could make it, given fam­ily com­mit­ments and so on, but the gath­er­ing was rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the group. As ex­pected, the craic was mighty and the tunes ex­tended into the night. No­body got much sleep on this oc­ca­sion ei­ther!

Caro­line Daly (left) and her sis­ter Leeann with par­ents Breda (orig­i­nally from Knock­nagoshel) and Ge­orge (orig­i­nally Ca­her­siveen).

Box player Pa Fo­ley from Glin and (right) to­gether again at the Ceol Chiar­raí re­u­nion in the Sham­rock Bar, New­castlewest on Fri­day night. Back from left: De­clan Malone (The Ker­ry­man), Con Forde, Caro­line Daly, Donal Lacey and Diar­muid O’Brien. Front: Deirdre Scan­lon, Matthew Reidy, Pa Fo­ley and Maura Walsh.

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