Memories of Johnnie Doran
Thomas Power (RIP) told me he remembered Johnnie Doran coming from Milltown Malbay one rainy day. He was on a bicycle and he had his pipes in a box, tied across his back like a schoolbag. Thomas was mad about music and as Johnnie was coming up the hill past him, he invited him in for a cup of tea. Doran was glad of the invitation as the day was cold.
When the tea was drank, and Johnnie had warmed up considerably by the fire Thomas hinted that a few tunes might be in order and the pipes were duly produced. Thomas in the meantime invited all the neighbours, young and old, and Johnnie played away all the day.
I don’t recall if he ever stayed in any house around here. He was usually in a caravan down under the metal bridge at Sullivans. We always made a point of going home from school that way to see all the travelling people, and their horse drawn caravans, when they parked there. A lot of them were tinsmiths and we used to watch them at work on the roadside. The line of caravans often extended from Sullivan’s cross to Daly’s bar. We would be killed when we get home for staying out so long.
Johnnie Doran also had a flat car and he often travelled around on it with his wife and children. A few years ago a brother of mine over in England was at a Comhaltas session and he met one of Doran’s sons. He wasn’t able to play any instrument and I suppose one of the reasons for this would be that he was only a small child when Johnnie Doran died. He had a bad accident in Dublin – a section of wall collapsed on him – and he never recovered.
I remember the only occasion I heard him play at the Miltown Races. He was standing up with one leg on a box, playing away and the smile on his face is something I will never forget.
Lachtin Naofa Ceili Band
I played with Lachtin Naofa Ceili Band which got it’s name because the musicians for the most part were from Quilty and Miltown Malbay. Paddy Malone (RIP), decided that a neutral name would have to be thought of for the band.
St. Joseph’s Well, near the power station, was better known to most people then as Tobar Lachtin Naofa or St. Lachtins Well and it being on the parish boundary, that was the name decided on for the band.
Incidentally there is a lovely song about the well which was written by Thomas O hAodha who, I think, also wrote ‘Nora Daly’ and many other popular songs. He also wrote a fine book in Irish.
Mullagh Fife and Drum Band
I also played with Mullagh Fife and Drum Band on one occasion. Willie Callinan and myself were asked to play with them by Stevie O’Halloran. The occasion was a visit by De Valera and I remember we marched into the hall (Caseys) in Quilty. There were two big double doors on the hall at the time and we marched through and right up to the stage.
Patrick Shanahan was seeking election then and that was the reason De Valera was around. I recall Josie Mooney (RIP) was in the band and Stevie O’Halloran ``of course, also Paddy Clancy(RIP), and his sons.
There was a big bonefire in Quilty that evening and Anthony Power (RIP), John Fennell (RIP) , Willie Callinan and myself played for sets. There was a night at Patrick Shanahan’s house as well.
During the war there was a grade of candle on sale for a while and they were very bad – like something made out of lard or dripping. A man told me one day that he bought two of them and when he went home he left them on a shelf over the fireplace and went out again on "cuaird". Later on that night he returned home to find his candles were missing. The house was searched but to no avail and as a last resort he looked under the bed. There were the two candle wicks but the candles were past redemption. His cat had found and eaten them.
The coastguards lived right at the back of Morgan’s house beside us. I don’t remember it but I recall my mother describing it as a beautiful building. The flag would always be flying there down at the gate.
One of the coastguards married a local girl. His name was Evans. He died as a young man and his two sons and two daughters were reared by their uncle. I remember them going to school.
The coastguards were well thought of for the most part by local people but when they finally left the area no one was sorry as they were regarded as a symbol of foreign rule.
On the day as they were leaving, their lorry was passing through a village of nine or ten houses called "The Gate" which got it’s name because at one time there was a gate there across the road cutting off access to the strand. A crowd of people were standing around, some waving. One local man shouted " Imeacht gan casadh libh" ( that ye might not return). One of the coastguards knew what it meant and invited the speaker to say it again but he didn’t and nothing came of it.
Courtesy of Michael Falsey