Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 40, Page 11

Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 40, Page 11
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Na Píobairí Uilleann
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Chairman, NPU
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Píobaire, An
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21As I stood at the graveside as J.C. Taltywas laid to rest at Quilty, Co. Clareoverlooking the Atlantic Ocean withits beautiful setting and rugged coastline,many thoughts came rushing through mymind. Surrounded by J.C. Talty’s loyal friendsand family, I thought of the firm and loyalfriendship he engendered in people. His mod-esty and his talents, all so self-effacing. I sup-pose that was why he was admired by thewider community. The same qualities werecertainly appreciated by his musical friends:Martin Talty, Paddy Joe McMahon, JimmyWard, Michael Falsey, Peter O’Loughlin andWillie Clancy. On the occasion of WillieClancy’s marriage, J.C. was his best man. Forthe rest of Willie’s short life J.C. was part ofthat inner circle. J.C.’s life touched on somany aspects of the tradition; he was anaccomplished whistle player, flute player,piper and a member of two premier bands inClare – the Laictín Naofa Céilí Band andTulla Céilí Band. He was also involved in thefoundation of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann inClare and Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy. Musical BackgroundJ.C. Talty grew up in a musical environmentwhen set dances were all the rage. Indeed, theQuilty area was famous for set-dancers andmusicians. The Boyle family were renowneddancers and whistle player, Joe Cuneen, andMichael Falsey are some of the names thatimmediately spring to mind. J.C. Talty’shouse at Caherush was a house of music, sit-uated literally on the edge of the AtlanticOcean, a beautiful inspiring spot. J.C. becameknown as a talented whistle player and lateras a flute player from playing at local housedances. His father, Michael Joe, played thefife in a fife and drum band in nearby Coore.On his mother’s side of the family there wasalso a musical heritage. Mary (Cissie) Woulfeand her brother Joeie, had a keen interest intraditional music. Joeie Woulfe was marriedto Willie Clancy’s sister, Mary. It was atWoulfe’s in Lahinch, distant relatives of J.C.’smother, that he met Andy Keane, theLimerick piper. J.C. later acquired Andy’s setof pipes made by Leo Rowsome with aWilliam Rowsome chanter. The Clare PipersAlthough J.C. was better known as a fluteplayer he was also an accomplished piper. In1960 at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Boyle,J.C. won the intermediate uilleann pipe com-petition. J.C. was like many of the Clarepipers principally Martin Talty, MichaelFalsey and Willie Clancy influenced by thebrilliance of Johnny Doran, the travellingpiper who camped in the vicinity in the1940s. During the late 1950s and early 1960sJ.C. was of the circle of pipers who travelledto compete at the Oireachtas competitionsheld at the time in Dublin. The other pipersinvolved were Willie Clancy, Martin Talty,Michael Falsey, Peter O’Loughlin, PaddyO’Donoghue and Seán Reid. The latter was apivotal figure in this group, he organised fortheir travel and was the contact with LeoRowsome and the Pipers’ Club. Invariablythere were 5 or 6 entries from Sráid naCathrach (Miltown Malbay) listed in theOireachtas programme. They also competedin the other instrumental competitions. TheClare contingent stood out from the othercompetitors. They were multi-instrumental-ists which was rare in those days and themajority were physically tall men. Willie,Obituary - J.C. Talty(1931-2006)20Fleming O’Reilly, ‘An Irish Schoolmaster’s Letter. ACurious and Pedantic Document of the EighteenthCentury’, The Journal of the American IrishHistorical Society vol. 23 (1924): 190-2.5 Sullivan, vol. 1 (1921): 243. Sullivan’s capitalisationand punctuation have been retained.6 Sullivan, vol. 1 (1921): 244. The transcription byMiller et al. spells ‘Bagpipes’ as ‘Baggpipes’.7 Sullivan, vol. 1 (1921): 2458 O’Toole (2005): 199 John Geoghegan, The Compleat Tutor for thePastoral or New Bagpipe, London n.d. [c1745according to the British Library catalogue, which alsoassigns it to 1746]10 The painting is in private ownership but is currently(December 2006) on view in the National Gallery ofIreland in Dublin. It is reproduced and annotated inBrendan Rooney ed., A Time and a Place: TwoCenturies of Irish Social Life (NGI exhibition cata-logue, Dublin 2006): 27-9; and also reproduced as‘View of Dublin from the Phoenix Park’ in AnneCrookshank and the Knight of Glin, Ireland’sPainters 1600–1940, New Haven & London 2002:73.11 Nicholas Carolan, `Cutting a Dash: Uilleann Pipes inthe 1760s and 1770s’, An Píobaire vol. 4, no 35(Bealtaine/May 2006): 18-2312 The violin became popular in Ireland in the late sev-enteenth century; the German flute and hautboy oroboe spread there during the early eighteenth century.13 I am assuming here that John Geoghegan was Irish,and am using ‘uilleann pipes’ in a sense that wouldcover all versions of the early elbow-blown chamberbagpipes played in Ireland, including the pastoralpipes if they were played here.14 Seán Donnelly, ‘The First Irish Piper in America?’,An Píobaire series 2, no 39 (Bealtaine 1988): 16The weekend had momentum to beginwith. For the past two years the EastCoast Pipers’ Tionol was held at theFern Cliff House in East Durham, NY, and forthe past two years it had been a rollicking suc-cess. This year promised to be no disappoint-ment, with piping teachers Marion McCarthy,Tommy Keane, Michael Cooney, PatrickD’Arcy, and Patrick Hutchinson. Fiddlerswere hardly less thrilled with Patrick Ourceauand legendary Kevin Crehan wanderingaround for a few tunes. Benedict Koehler setup shop and pipers all flocked for masterreed-repair.Friday evening there was a large session inthe O’Connell Lounge and meeting and talk-ing with old friends. Saturday morning andafternoon the students attended two hourclasses and enjoyed the beautiful fall leaveswhile strolling around the Fern Cliff House.Saturday night brought the concert and someguest appearances: both flute-player MikeMcHale and Benedict Koehler, although notteaching with the tionól, joined in perform-ances much to our delight. The concert waslong and lively, and everyone relished theopportunity to hear the masterful musiciansplay.Sunday morning was scheduled free-time, orsleep-time! Musicians had the opportunity totalk with one another or grab a cup of the finecoffee Susanne Ward had ready-made in theO’Connell lounge, day and night. Behindevery other door there was another musicianpracticing, having been inspired by theirencouraging and talented teachers. ClassesSunday afternoon prepared everyone for ThePipers’ Chair, the students’ opportunity tostrut their stuff. The concert was delightfulwith various musical talents on display andthe whole audience was encouraging.Monday morning brought beautiful weather,our last classes, and the goodbyes. Musiciansall were tired and happy, with everyoneexpressing absolute delight in the weekend.The music was exceptional all three days, andthe talk unparalleled anywhere. As we left theweekend, everyone agreed it was a fantastictionól.Molly Hester~ East Coast Pipers’ Tionol ~
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Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 40

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