Date Published: 23-Jun-2011
Born into a musical family in Galway in 1943, Seán Tyrrell’s playing pedigree stretches back to the 1960s when he performed in the Fo’castle Club in the city. He emigrated in 1968 to the US playing professionally and singing in Irish bars in New York and San Francisco on what he calls ‘the corned beef and cabbage circuit’.
In 1976 he returned home and went to live in Kerry before moving to Clare where he was appointed caretaker at the UCG research station at Carron. One day he was walking with a friend at Eagle’s Rock in the heart of the Burren when something about the place spoke to him.
“It was only then that I began to realise what the Burren was all about,” he reflects. “I was ignorant of its importance and the significance of it prior to that as I never visited it as a child. I remember a tangible feeling came over me and I said to myself I have finally found my spiritual homeland. When I lived in the States I had at least four or five different homes but I knew that this was the place – and especially Bellharbour – where I wanted to live.”
Seán looks back on how his poetic-musical life took off. One night he was asked to play in a pub in Lisdoonvarna.
“The barman said he wanted some songs so I was flicking through a book of poems and Bagpipe Music by Louis MacNeice caught my imagination. I found it hilarious and knew immediately this was the song for me. I sat down and quickly produced some of the most amazing lyrics – incredible stuff and unquestionably being in the Burren influenced that. I started to sing poems and realised this was what I was looking for. I didn’t want to do The Wild Rover or Black Velvet Band – they’ve been done to death and have become an abomination but I wanted to find other things.”
The Burren gave Seán the chance to develop a connection between poetry and music which is his passion. The range of poetic voices he has tapped into stretches from the eighteenth-century Clare poet, Brian Merriman and C.D. Shanley through Yeats, MacNeice and Kavanagh up to Seamus Heaney and Paul Durcan. This standing army also includes Michael Hartnett, Mary O’Malley and Rita Ann Higgins.
Like so many creative artists who live in the area, Seán has experienced numerous magical moments.
“Everything comes into the Burren equation with me. In the days when I was oyster farming I would be up to my belly in water with a wetsuit and I remember that a swan used to come and visit me at Muckinish. It would stand and look at me, then wander off again, and return and do it again. The sea bed is fascinating and the different colours of seaweeds never cease to amaze me. One summer’s day I was coming in by boat and noticed the whole sea floor covered in incredibly beautiful white lace which was like a sea mushroom. I had never seen anything like it.
“Along this boreen where I live when you reach the sea at Bellharbour there’s a bed of the most magnificent mussels. There is something special about picking them and carrying them up to the house. I used to sell mussels for years and supplied them to some of the best restaurants along the west coast. It was extremely hard work but I still like going there.
“The very smell of my hands when I come back is like perfume to me even though it is muck and dirt but I just love eating them with friends after I’ve picked them fresh. I enjoy walking along different parts of the shore and discovering places where you find seaweeds, razorfish, cockles, oysters, or different types of scallop.”
One of Seán’s biggest musical projects involved tackling Brian Merriman’s poem The Midnight Court. He became fascinated by the bawdy, epic poem written in 1780 which is regarded as one of the most important and comic contributions to Gaelic literature.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Judge adjourns Connemara assault case
Date Published: 08-May-2013
A date will be set next October for the trial of a 52-year old Connemara man, who is charged with assaulting traditional Irish musician Noel Hill five years ago.
Michael Folan from Teach Mór, Lettermullen, is charged with intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Noel Hill at Tí Padraig Mairtín Beag in Leitir Mór, on St Stephen’s Day, 2008.
The matter had been listed for trial on several occasions before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in the intervening period.
It was referred to the High Court in Dublin last year for judicial review after Michael Folan said he wanted his trial heard ‘as Gaeilge’and that a bi-lingual jury be made available to hear the case.
At Galway Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Rory McCabe adjourned the case for mention to October when it’s expected a date will be set for trial.
Bank of Ireland Galway Shopping Centre branch to close
Date Published: 10-May-2013
Bank of Ireland’s branch at Galway Shopping Centre on the Headford Road is to close in July.
The branch is to merge into the BOI outlet at Galway Industrial Estate in Mervue.
Galway Bay fm news reports the 14 staff impacted are to be offered redeployment and there will be no job losses.
Galway RNLI rescues three people stranded on Hare Island
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway RNLI Lifeboat has come to the rescue of three students who got stranded on Hare Island after getting caught in the tide off Ballyloughan Beach.
The two girls and boy, in their late teens had gone for a walk and were spotted waving from the island by a local resident who contacted the emergency Services and Galway Lifeboat.
Conditions at the time (4pm) were very changeable with heavy showers.
Three members of the Lifeboat shore crew were working in the vicinity of the station at the time and launched the boat in six minutes.
The three students were picked up safely and brought back to the Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks where they were warmed up and given tea and did not require medical attention.