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Quilty and It’s Traditions

The music

When I was growing up the country house dances were very popular. Some times they were in the form of parties, and more of them at a gamble and dance. They provided a good form of entertainment, especially in the long winter nights, and were enjoyed by young and old. They helped also to form a standard of set and stepdancing as well as the encouraging of our traditional music.

There was always a plentiful supply of musicians to keep the dancers happy. From the Quilty area right down to the Clocher. I can remember many of those players. All as good as the best. I could begin with my Father, John Falsey, who played the concert flute. His brother Marty played melodeon, John Fennell, Willie and Sonny Callinan and Tom Considine all played the flute. The following were all fiddle players: Paddy Galvin, John Joe Healy, Scully Casey, and his son Bobby, Thady Casey and his sons Tadgh, Peter, Paddy and Tony, Joe Boyle his brother Johnno, Mary Ann Falsey and Anthony Power.

There were many concertina players in the area and those I can recall were, Micko Doyle, Georgie Downes, and his brother Jimmy, Bid Keane, Mary McMahon, Marty Downes, Annie Healy and the Egan family.

Many of the above named musicians have passed on (R.I.P.), but many survive and are still playing. The present generation of musicians would include: Joe Cuneen, tin whistle, J.P. Downes, Flute, J.C. Talty, Flute, Pipes and Tin whistle, Brid O’ Donaghue, Flute and tin whistle: Patrick Wickham, flute and tin whistle and myself, Pipes, Flute and Tin Whistle.

The Travelling Musicians:

The most notable musicians in my youth were the travelling pipers, Johnnie and Felix Doran. They usually parked their Horsedrawn caravans under the "METAL BRIDGE" near Sullivan’s Forge, just a short distance from Quilty.

They were always welcome and highly regarded in the area, and were special guests at parties. The late Thomas Power of Quilty told me that he often invited them to his house to hear them play and the neighbours would also be invited. The Dorans played all over West Clare usually at Fairs and also at Sporting events. I have the Johnnie Doran Cup for Piping, which I won at the Dunsallagh Feis. This event was held annually at the football field in Miltown Malbay.

Courtesy of Michael Falsey, Seafield


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.

Bad Candles

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

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



Rachel O'Dwyer Music Award

Rachel O'Dwyer was a pupil in Quilty National School who died from Encephalitis in November, 1999, aged ten years. 

 In order to perpetuate her memory Quilty N.S. has inaugurated a music award.

The award will go to the most promising music student each year.  The student is picked by our music teacher Mrs. McMahon.  This years award went to Siobhán McCarthy.   Her fees for a weeks tuition at the Willie Clancy Summer School will be sponsored by Rita O'Dwyer, Rachel's mother.

Muris O'Rochain, Director of the Willie Clancy Summer School, was delighted with this idea and said it was important that the local music tradition be fostered in schools.

Quilty has a great music tradition with Paddy Galvin R.I.P., Michael Falsey, J.P. Downes and John Fennell R.I.P. to name just a few.  It is important that we keep up this tradition.  We congratulate Siobhán on her success and hope she goes on to greater things in the music world.

Rachel O'Dwyer (R.I.P.)

Miriam Molohan Retires

Michael Carrick, Principal Retires

Deirdre O'Malley goes to Kilkee N.S.


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