Peter Browne andthe Handed Down mile­stone

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

THE long and fruit­ful as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween RTÉ Ra­dio and the mu­si­cians and cus­to­di­ans of the culture as­so­ci­ated with the Sli­abh Luachra area reached an­other im­por­tant mile­stone in Scartaglin on Satur­day night.

The start of the fifth Handed Down Tra­di­tional Mu­sic Lec­ture and Con­cert series was billed as a ‘Thank you to Peter Browne from Sli­abh Luachra’ and, along with con­tri­bu­tions from guest mu­si­cians, Paudie O’Con­nor was the nom­i­nated MC or fear a ‘tí.

Mr Browne re­cently re­tired from his role as pre­sen­ter / pro­ducer with RTÉ Ra­dio and Satur­day night’s event in Scart pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for the mu­si­cians and the mere mor­tals of the re­gion to hon­our his con­tri­bu­tion to the cul­tural well­be­ing of the re­gion.

The event opened with some su­perb ex­am­ples of mu­si­cian­ship from: Paddy Jones and Roisín O’Con­nor, solo fid­dles and a pip­ing solo from Ciarán Browne, songs from Joe Cree­don and a group ses­sion with Noeleen O’Don­nell, Aoife Ní Chaoimh and the same Paudie O’Con­nor.

Paudie then took Peter aside – for want of a bet­ter way of putting it – and they got on with their well planned move.

The host brought Peter on a fas­ci­nat­ing and thor­oughly re­searched, up hill, down dale in­ter­view from his child­hood to to­day. This was il­lus­trated through­out by pho­to­graphs, au­dio clips and text on the big screen.

Need­less to men­tion, but his ex­cel­lent and painstak­ing work on the ra­dio doc­u­men­tary ‘Padraig O’Ke­effe – The Last of the Great Fid­dle Masters’ took cen­tre stage and Paudie teased every pos­si­ble drop of back­ground in­for­ma­tion from Peter on the mak­ing of the land­mark pro­grammes in the early 1990s.

This work led di­rectly to the found­ing of the Pa­trick O’Ke­effe Tra­di­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val – of which the 26th hold­ing is in the door to us. It’s on from Fri­day 26th to Mon­day 29th in­clu­sive. It also spawned the com­pi­la­tion of a CD of the mu­sic of O’Ke­effe which was launched by Peter Browne and the late Ciarán MacMathúna at the first fes­ti­val in Oc­to­ber 1993.

Peter could be heard on Satur­day night down-play­ing his role in the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the mu­sic of the Sli­abh Luachra area in par­tic­u­lar – while clearly not ne­glect­ing his obli­ga­tions to that of the other re­gions – as his role de­manded.

It’s a bit like the ques­tion of the big tree fall­ing in the for­est. Would we ever know what noise it made – if any - but for the fact that Peter Browne and his equals were there to cap­ture and wit­ness it all.

The Con Houli­han ref­er­ence to chron­i­clers of his­tory and tra­di­tion and his beau­ti­fully coined ‘Fall­ing over the Cliff of Si­lence’ also comes to mind in con­nec­tion with the col­lec­tors who went well out of their way to en­sure our past has a fu­ture.

Like the Farm­ers’ Jour­nal in its tar­geted in­dus­try, Peter Browne is fear­lessly on the mu­si­cians’ side. He is first and fore­most a mu­si­cian – and has the sense of hu­mour to prove it.

His in­ter­views are pep­pered with bouts of know­ing, but un­ob­tru­sive, laugh­ter as his in­ter­vie­wees de­scribe the va­garies of their lives, the var­i­ous in­stru­ments and the bags of skills needed to play them to the stan­dards re­quired.

Wasn’t it Paddy Jones him­self who told Peter, in the course of a Ra­dio One chat, that play­ing the fid­dle some­times felt like try­ing to tie one’s shoelaces and shav­ing at the same time.

I was given the hon­our of pre­sent­ing an ex­cel­lent paint­ing, of Peter and his son Ciarán in full pip­ing bat­tle har­ness, to the man of the mo­ment.

The much ad­mired paint­ing is the work of Mairéad Bros­nan – a sis­ter-in-law of Handed Down founder mem­ber, PJ Tea­han.

Peter’s wife Siob­hán and daugh­ter Iseult were also in Scartaglin for the oc­ca­sion.

As a founder and a great friend of the Pa­trick O’Ke­effe Tra­di­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, Peter Browne will be sub­jected to fur­ther bouts of hon­our­ing at this month’s fes­ti­val in Castleis­land.

Two ex­cel­lent, young box play­ers and ex­cit­ing prospects, Michael Healy from Kil­cum­min and Kealan O’Con­nor from Beau­fort brought the cur­tain down on a night when an­other mile­stone was set firmly in the Handed Down archive in Scartaglin Her­itage Cen­tre.

Photo by John Reidy

At the Handed Down trib­ute to Peter Browne in Scartaglin on Satur­day night were: founder mem­ber, PJ Tea­han (left) with Noeleen O’Don­nell, Roisín O’Con­nor, Peter Browne and Ciarán Browne. Back row: Aoife Ní Chaoimh, Paudie O’Con­nor, Joe Cree­don and Paddy Jones.

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