‘Trip to Sligo’ by Bernard Flaherty.
“On the 26th of January 1986 I was sitting in Mrs. Kathleen Morris’s Ceili House Bar in Boyle. It was a Saturday night and the session had just ended. Suddenly Kathleen came down the stairs visibly shocked. ‘You’ll never guess what I’m after hearing,’ she said, ‘Fred Finn is dead’ ”………..
“As I walked away from the graveyard (in Gurteen after Fred’s burial) I realised that I must do something for the South Sligo tradition (of music) which is greater than all of us. Hopefully the inspiration prompted by that incident is realised in this book”.
These are the opening and closing sentences to Bernard Flaherty’s insightful introductory essay to his fine and very important book, ‘A Trip to Sligo’, on the traditional music of South Sligo which was first published in 1990. The printed number of that edition have long since been sold and it is really great to see that Bernard has republished his ‘Trip to Sligo’ again in time for the All-Ireland Fleadh which is taking part in Sligo this week. While I am no expert in Irish traditional music I have heard a good deal of it and I am very aware of its importance and its place as one of the pillars of Irish culture.
Bernard’s book is seen as a uniquely significant production and has placed on the written record the contribution of a number-not all- of the finest of traditional musicians in the South Sligo, North Roscommon area. Many of those have gone to their eternal reward since the book’s first publication but their memory and legacy lives on and that it will ever be so is a testament to Bernard’s contribution here. And what musical names there are. Accompanying Fred Finn there are his friend and colleague Peter Horan, Harry McGowan, Andrew Davey and Kathleen Morris with the younger group Tommy Finn, Pat Meehan and Colm O’Donnell amongst others.
I have good reason to remember Bernard’s time in preparing the material for the book at Purcell Print as I was engaged myself then in ‘A History of the GAA in Roscommon’. So we had the collegiality of brothers engaged in similar struggles.
Bernard comes from a family steeped in traditional music and he continues to pass on the legacy through his music teaching. He is acknowledged as a fine traditional musician himself and what is understated is that he is also a fine singer enriching many a session down the years and currently, from time to time, in Dodd’s bar in Boyle.
‘A Trip to Sligo’ is a gem of a book and an heirloom reference for present and future lovers of Irish traditional music and the clear style that is unique to the region straddling the Roscommon Sligo ‘boundary’. Fred would be pleased with your effort, Bernard.
Archives/Collections Where to Now?
The Maureen O’Sullivan material of mine that was being used in the recent Maureen O’Sullivan ‘Full Circle Commemoration’ has been returned. I just wonder what to do with it now. Few people will see it in my attic! I have been a ‘collector’ of material relating to a number of specific areas. Trying now to get to grips with these collections is an issue. Apart from Maureen there is (2) a St. Mary’s College ‘box’ of photographs and other material. Of course there is considerable material relating to (3) Boyle GAA club and (4) Roscommon GAA and a lesser ‘box’ relating to Fuerty ! In 1983 Boyle Community Radio, promoted by R.T.E., broadcast for a week in the town and I ‘happened’ to tape most of that (5). Then there is the lesser collection (6) fifty or so in number, of a lovely magazine series called ‘Ireland of the Welcomes’, from the eighties and early nineties. There are three Roscommon publications (7) The Roscommon Association Annual, Roscommon GAA year Books and The Roscommon Historical and Archaeological Magazine. Then there is of course the accumulation of a half- life of (8) quiz material. I do not know what relevance Stevie Smith’s poem, ‘Not Waving but Drowning’, has to all this but it comes into my mind when I review these boxes.
It was a fine event at the Abbey Park on Saturday evening though the result went against Boyle, after an excellent first half of football against St. Brigid’s. There was a great effort made in preparation for the significant double-header. Boyle have another big game on Sunday next when they visit Padraig Pease's in the last championship game of this group stage. This is a fifty –fifty game and any support willing to make the long trip to Ballinasloe will, I’m sure, be appreciated.
Boyle minor girls came up against a very good Shannon Gaels side on Tuesday evening in the park. Still progress in the game continues apace in Boyle.
This Wednesday evening the Boyle U 12 team defeated a gallant St. Michael’s to reach the final of the Keenan Cup. This is a very talented side which overcame St. Brigid’s in the U 12 ‘A’ League final just a few weeks ago.
Watching Rory McIlroy’s win in the U.S. golf, deep into last Sunday night/Monday morning, was a real treat. After a wobble that seemed to damage his chances he recovered with one magnificent long drive which resulted in an eagle and the game was in the melting pot again. He held his nerve and saw it out for another great win in a great year for him. Rory comes from Holywood but his status now is moving to that of one of the icons of Hollywood.
The Kilkenny Cats are into another final. Limerick gave it their all in appalling conditions at Croke Park on Sunday but the introduction of Power especially (a bit belatedly by Coady’s standards) tilted the balance at the end. Next Sunday it is Cork v Tipperary. I fancy Cork and maybe they could go all the way and win the All-Ireland final itself. My game results predictions have been pretty good this summer though I did forecast a draw between Armagh and Donegal.