Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Waterford Today - Jack O’Neill’s Pages from The Past

Waterford News
February 1947
Waterford Characters what about Francie Cahill? This query appeared on the margin of a copy of the "Waterford News" which my friend, Mike Fitzgerald, of Santa Maria, California, received from a Mrs. Englehart, whose address is 1845 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, California and who stated that she had recently returned from a ten months’ holiday in Waterford. She is quite unknown to Mike, as she is to me, although she must be a native of the city. At any rate, Mike proceeds to answer the question as follows:
Francie Cahill was a well-known character of the Urbs Intacta whose chief claim to fame lay in the fact that he spent more time in jail than out of it. The police had long tired of tabulating his transgressions and when a Magistrate enquired as to the number of previous convictions against him, Francie usually replied "one more, your honour." Then Francie was on his way once again to Ballybricken Jail, escorted by a burly "peeler" and it was a sight to see him coming up Patrick Street smoking a clay pipe, while at the same time playing "God Save Ireland" on a penny tin whistle through his nose. Poor fellow, he was entirely harmless, though somewhat of a nuisance.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bealtaine Festival 2012 Set for Roscommon Arts Centre This Summer

Location of County Roscommon on island of IrelandLocation of County Roscommon on island of Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Roscommon Arts Centre is shortly announcing its Summer 2012 line-up with details of many events already available online at

The new Summer Programme of Events will be published in the coming weeks with copies delivered to homes across the region and also available in shops and businesses. A highlight of the early summer programme is the nationwide Bealtaine Festival celebrating creativity in older age. The theme for the 2012 Bealtaine Festival is ‘What kind of old do you want to be?’ It recognises that older people are not one homogeneous group; they are individuals with widely differing talents, interests and needs and we hope that our programme reflects this. Throughout May Roscommon Arts Centre has arranged a series of free workshops in music and singing as well as book-making. All our workshops are free of charge and available to everyone aged 50 and over. Alongside the workshops & classes, the arts centre has programmed some wonderful evenings of theatre, comedy and music, many of these events with special over 50s ticket prices to celebrate Bealtaine. More details are available through Roscommon Arts Centre’s box office on 090 6625824 and early registration for classes is highly recommended as places are limited.

Making Hand-Made Books
with Andrew Kelly for over 50s
Learn the art of how to create handmade books of all shapes and sizes to take home and keep. Artist Andrew Kelly has a masters in book-making and will be on hand to teach absolute beginners this wonderful technique. All materials will be supplied - although you should bring along an apron! Spaces limited, so early booking advisable via Roscommon Arts Centre’s box office. Classes take place on Wednesday afternoons (9th – 30th May inclusive) from 2pm – 5pm.

Traditional Singing and Tin Whistle Classes
with Pauline Hanly and John Wynne for over 50s
Pauline Hanly, All Ireland champion winner and tutor will welcome all budding singers to the arts centre for free Thursday morning traditional singing classes. Featuring songs like Sliabh Bán and The West's Awake along with Percy French compositions such as Phil the Fluter's Ball these classes are specifically designed to be informal and welcoming to those aged over 50.

Local well known musician John Wynne will lend his advice and expertise to all budding tin whistle players for a series of free afternoon classes at the Arts Centre during May. A perfect opportunity to enjoy some fun on a mid-week afternoon at the Arts Centre. These once-weekly classes are perfect for those trying the tin whistle for the first time or indeed those with a little more experience.

Both tin whistle and singing classes begin at the arts centre on Thursday 3rd May. Details on all class dates and times are available through Roscommon Arts Centre’s box office on 090 6625824 and as places are limited early booking is highly recommended.

Read more:

Bealtaine Festival 2012 Set for Roscommon Arts Centre This Summer

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Young tin whistle player’s got talent - Napanee Guide - Ontario, CA

Thirteen-year-old Devon might not have been playing for long, but his four years of tin whistle experience have gone a long way when it comes to his abilities on the traditional Irish instrument.

He can wrap his fingers around Irish tunes quite effectively and make the $12 tin whistle sing in a way that many can’t. And his parents aren’t the only ones who think so.

“Dev’s a big where ever he plays,” says Kathie Jackson, Devon’s stepmom. “Whether it’s at the Legion, or he played last St. Patty’s at the Music Cafe, and at the RCH Club in Kingston. He gets standing ovations and I hate going on after him, he’s so good.”

Devon comes from a musical family – his dad is a skilled guitar and mandolin player, and both dad and step mom Kathie play in bands around the Kingston and Napanee area, including their own band the Worst Case Scenario. Finding his own musical path involved hearing his dad casually playing the tin whistle now and then.

“It was kind of a random question: can I learn the tin whistle?” says Devon. “Then a few days later dad taught me my first song.”

That was when Devon was nine years old, and Tom made him work for the privilege of playing music. “I had to earn it from dad,” he says.

“Getting homework done, going to bed on time,” says Tom of some of the daily chores Devon had to fulfill to earn the whistle. But once he got his own whistle he took off, learning whatever he could get his ears on. “He’d hear me playing the tunes on guitar and mandolin, and get them. And for Christmas one year I think I got him a CD.”

Not only does Devon have the notes down, he’s got a good handle on Irish ornamentation too – all those little musical twists, swirls, cuts, and rolls that bring the skeletal structure of a tune’s notes to life.

“We did go to an Almonte CeltFest, and some minor ornamentations were learned there, but most of the time after that was just adaptation to the instrument itself,” says Devon.

He’s taking music in Grade 7 at school, and starting to learn how to read sheet music while playing the flute. But most of his learning until now has been by ear – listening, and translating those notes to his fingers. A couple of times Tom took his son to an Irish session at a pub in downtown Kingston.

“The funny thing is one of the sessions I took him to at Ben’s pub, we’re driving home and Devon says, ‘I learned five songs today.’ And I was like, five songs? It takes me a month to learn five songs.”

Both Tom and Kathie are impressed by the speed at which Devon can pick up new music.

“Tom will play a song, Devon will go into the other room and ten minutes later come out and he’ll know it,” says Kathie. “It’s interesting to see the dynamic between them.”

Devon’s future goals include becoming an author and potentially an architect, but he says music will also hopefully remain a part of his life on an informal and enjoyable level.

“I will definitely keep playing, probably as a hobby,” he said.

Music, especially in the Irish tradition, has historically been a bonding and social experience for families, before entertainment was to be found in television, movies, or radio. And Tom and Kathie both see the benefits of having music in the home.

“It’s a bonding experience,” says Kathie. “Even in our home, it’s neat, I’ll be puttering about making supper and I get to hear them play. It’s better than watching TV.”

“It actually gives you one more reason to get together,” says Tom, whose extended family has an annual musical festival in Collingwood called GulleyFest, which features bluegrass and country music and hundreds of people.

For Devon, music is both an enjoyable pastime as well as a challenging endeavour to push himself out of his comfort zone.

“I think there’s an immense satisfaction in the completion of various songs and techniques, that’s helpful in my development as a musician,” he said.

That dedication and self-starter curiosity and desire to learn will only help Devon in his future pursuits.

Keep an eye open for any upcoming performances by Devon Gulley.

Young tin whistle player’s got talent - Napanee Guide - Ontario, CA