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.
Retail industry trade body welcomes B&Q announcement
Date Published: 07-May-2013
Retail Excellence Ireland, the country’s largest retail industry trade body, has welcomed the news that 60 jobs have been saved at the city branch of B&Q.
It’s after the home improvements store successfully exited examinership.
Under the scheme, 2.4 million euro is to be invested by parent company Kingfisher plc, and B and Q will continue to trade at eight stores
This means 640 jobs have been saved nationwide, including 60 at the outlet in Knocknacarra.
However, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland says landlords need to be willing to help out smaller retailers too.
Foundation reports nine Galway heart deaths each week
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Nine people die in Galway every week from heart disease and stroke.
That’s according to the Irish Heart Foundation, which is launching its Happy Hearts Appeal today. (9/5)
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched the appeal today to help raise funds for the charity, which has seen increasing demand on its patient services.
The Foundation says it needs to raise at least half a million euro to maintain existing information services.
Call to tackle delays at Oranmore rail crossing
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Concerns have been raised over traffic delays at the railway crossing in Oranmore.
Councillor Jim Cuddy says he has received many representations from local motorists who have been experiencing extended delays.
He says the closed barrier can sometimes cause a traffic tailback as far as the roundabout near the Maldron hotel.
Cllr Cuddy has brought the matter to the attention of Iarnrod Eireann and has asked for an explanation as to why the crossing is closed for so long.