Píobaire, An, Volume 2, Issue 22, Page 3
Píobaire, An, Volume 2, Issue 22, Page 3
Na Píobairí Uilleann
MEMORIES OF THEDORANS IN CLAREThe first Uilleann Piper Isaw playing was JohnnyDoran. I was about 12years old at the timearound 1942. One of thebig events up to that timewas the Miltown Raceswhich were held annually atthe sandhills in SpanishPoint between Quilty andMiltown Malbay. On thisoccassion my brotherPatrick and myself joinedon foot the crowds from mynative Quilty and surroundingareas and made our way tothe races. World War 2was at its height at thistime but our thoughts werefar from Hitlers campaignin Europe. As we enteredthe enclosure at the race-course which was the placewhere all the amusementsand refreshments were, asmall hardy neat lookingman came in behind uscarrying a brown woodencase. His wife was withhim, a stocky dark comp-lectioned woman with alight scarf tied at the backof her head. He openedthe case near a marqueeand put the pipes together.He stood the case on thegrass and put his leg on itto balance the chanter.I didnt see much of theraces that day as I wasnear the piper wherever heplayed and when his wifemoved around with Johnnyspeaked cap we gladly threwour few coppers in to it.On other occasions I sawhim on an old bicycle withthe case on his back goingto some fair or sportingevent and again as I camefrom school in Quilty Idsee him with his wife andyoung children going by inthe pony and flat cart. Ididnt know Willie Clancyat this time but he used tocycle from his home inMiltown to meet Johnnynear the metal bridge ofthe now defunct West ClareRailway. Years after whenI was in London Willie tookmy set of pipes to mewhich I had bought fromLeo Rowsome. Willie wasreturning to London from aFleadh Ceoil in Ennis. Ididnt see Felix aroundQuilty as much as Johnnybut the first time I did seehim he was a fairly tallthin man, very neatlydressed at Mass in Quilty. Imet him in the mid-sixtiesat a Fleadh in Mullingar. Iwas playing the pipes withthe Kilfenora C4111 Band atthe time and during aconcert I had a good chatwith him. We spoke aboutJohnny and some of myneighbours whom he remem-bered. I would like tomention that I have a fondmemory of the Dorans anda lot of other travellingmusicians who often cameour way in those hardtimes during the var whenfood and other commoditieswere rationed and emigrationwas the thing of the day. Ihave in my possession theJohnny Doran Cup forUilleann pipes which I wonat the Dunsallagh Feiswhich was held annually inthe football pitch in MU-town up to the time theFleadhs got popular. I wasalso at a concert in Quiltyin the late forties whichwas one of a series ofbenefit concerts arrangedby the Pipers Club inDublin for the dependantsof Johnny Doran. It wasmy first time to see andhear Joe Cooley on stageand Leo Rowsome and step-dancer Rory OConnor. Thecountry house dances werein full swing those timesand the Dorans were alwaysin demand for the setdances although there weremany local musicians aroundthe area, the Dorans werea big boost to the events.A collection would bemade at the door and apound given to the piper.It was years after that Itook part in those dancesand the Dorans had movedon but they are still spokenof whenever theres a danceor session. Most of theirtunes were played for yearsafter they left as the travel-ling musician was a greathelp to the local playerfor learning tunes. Myfather the late John Falseywas a good flute player andhis brother Marty playedthe melodeon. He spokewell of Johnny Doran andwas very anxious that Idplay the pipes. He didntlive long enough to hear meplay and go on to winthe All-Ireland at a Fleadhin Thurles in the mid-sixties.I have vivid memories of allthose things, particularly thegreat piper Johnny Doran. Ihave a tape of all the tuneshe recorded for the FolkloreCommission some timebefore his fatal accident. Istill have the originalaccount of Johnnys accidentwhich I cut from the ClareChampion in 1948.Everyone Iv spoken tohere in dare has greatregard for the gentleobliging piper Johnny Doranand his brother Felix. Leabana bhFlathais dtha araonagus gach rath ar obairCumann Na bPIobairiUilleann.Michael Falsey22 July 1984.
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