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Aeroplanes out of Scrapheaps: Patrick Kelly from Cree by Brendan Taaffe

Appendix 4: Tom Kelly, Jim Kelly and Barry Taylor Interview: Brendan Taaffe 2004

I wouldn’t know much, is where I’m starting from. I know that he was from Cree, and that he got some tunes from George Whelan.

Well, the funny thing about it, you see, the people that knew him are all dead and gone. The people that knew him well, when he was playing and when we was going well in his young days. You know, Paddy McInerny, Micky Kelly, Paddy Ryan – all that old generation, his own generation, are all gone. ‘Tis hard to get anyone now to talk about him. And I didn’t know much about his young days because he wouldn’t talk much about where he spent his time, where he was, only that this MacMahon’s that was near us now at home, that was one of the places they used to have great nights, and it went on every—it wasn’t one night at all—but every night, and even in my time, it kept on and on. We went in there in the night and the records would be put on and the set would be danced. You would dance the set to a record. To Michael Coleman and Paddy Killoran and all those fellows.

And your father wasn’t mad about the impact of records.

He wasn’t, but they had nobody to play for them and they wanted music, and they wanted to dance, and they loved dancing because the old woman, she step danced and they danced sets. The daughter taught everyone in the area, Mary, because she stood there on the floor with you and when it was time for you to start, she landed you over there. She was a fierce big strong lady, and well able to dance. So she taught everyone in Cree to dance. But I remember my father describing long ago, ‘tis an eye-lamp would be hanging up on the pier just behind him, with a globe on it and two wicks on it and that would be the lighting. There was no electricity you see, and he would be playing and of course he would never be blamed and he would be under it and up would go the bow and he’d just hit the globe and down the globe would come on top of him. But there was always someone blamed and never him. I often heard him telling that, and I heard him telling one night, there was two rooms, one room down there and the partition only went the height of the wall and there was a knee roof on the place, and in the middle of the set one night, the tick and feathers came up over the top of it and landed in the middle of the floor on top of the lads that were dancing. The tick and feathers – they used to sleep on the bed—and a couple of lads took it from down below and flung it right out over and it landed right in the middle of the floor. Oh, what usen’t go on there. There was a hasp on the door, there was one of them on the door and, of course, a lad outside he put on the hasp and put a piece of tin through and, Jesus, you couldn’t get out, you’d have to go through a window. He used to playing for the dances, one time.

Would it be just himself, or would he have been playing with someone else?

I never heard him saying that there was anyone else there, but probably there were.

And that would have been every night of the week?

Ah well, he wouldn’t go every night of the week. But he’d probably go at the weekends and that. But outside of that, there’d be farewell parties, mostly for America. Them were the big things when I was a child. Someone going to America, there’d be what someone would call an American Wake.

And what years are we talking about?

That would be the 40’s. In the 40’s now.

And when was he born?

He died in ’76 and he was 71 years. 1905 he was born. He was born in Cree. And his father died when he was 10, so he was well able to play at that time.

And he learned from his father and George Whelan.

Well, some lads will tell you that it’s the father that learned his music from George Whelan, because I don’t know what year did George Whelan come around, what year it was. That I’m not sure, and I don’t know is it written down anywhere.

So Whelan, he would have traveled around?

He would, I would say he would have traveled into Miltown. Did you ever hear talk of him?

(BT) No, I don’t think he did. As I understand it, he actually traveled more around this area. Doonbeg, Kilmihil, Cree. Cooraclare, maybe Kilrush. Because, presumably, he came across the Shannon.

Well, there’s nobody living now, I would say, that would tell you. Nobody knew about his exploits at all.

Your granddad would have been a good player as well?

Yes, the grandfather was a good player, so they said.

On fiddle.

Yeah, on the fiddle.

That was Tim.

Tim Kelly – He died when my was father was only 10 and he was well able to play at that time, so that picture you see there on the front of the CD, he was probably about nine years that time, when that was taken.

Did your grandmother have music as well?

No, she didn’t. The music was from the Kelly’s.

And brother and sisters?

None of them. None of them ever played. Pat Joe had a few tunes on the tin whistle and then gave it up, forgot about it.

Your uncles and aunts I mean.

No, they had no music.

How many were there?

Well, from my mother’s side I have two uncles and an aunt. My father was an only child. So that side of it is all gone.

And of yourself and your brothers and sisters, you don’t play.

No we don’t.

(BT) I should say, because Tom would be too modest to say it himself, that Tom’s a fine singer and that most of his family are excellent singers. And all of the family have a really great interest in the music.

Oh, they’re all interested. They’ve followed it up all their life in England now, most of them went to England in their young days and wherever they went you’d hear them saying, we were such a place on Sunday night. Of course, great pubs in England then, and especially round London. They used to go in and they met all the musicians that were there, from every county.

So, your grandfather, would he have taught Patrick to play?

He did yeah, he taught him to play. Now, I don’t know how he got the rest of his music, whether he picked it from records or not, but I suppose there was always people moving in and out of the area. Willie Clancy now was a regular caller to our house, regular caller. I often remember Willie coming. Junior an odd time, very seldom. The Caseys in Quilty now – Bobby and Thady Casey, himself and Thady were great friends. And there was a fellow in Kilmihil by the name of MacNamara, Daniel Mac. He used to always talk about him. He was another one that he used to frequent with.

And Mrs. Crotty?

And Mrs. Crotty, and then there was a Mrs. McInerny here in Cooraclare, there’s a little garage now right across from the church gate, there was another place he used to always call, because she was a neighbor of ours from Cree just at the back of our land. When he’d go to town, and he’d go to town fairly often, cycling, there was no other way to travel at that time. And coming home at night he’d go in there. And Mitchell Lillis was a smith who lived in the village and he lived just beyond the turn in the village. And he’d two big open doors on the forge, and he’d see everyone as they’d pass. So he’d see my father passing in the morning, and he’d have a set ready for the night then. Patrick Kelly has gone down today, there’s going to be a set at Jackie’s tonight. Jackie McInerny was his name, and the set would be there that night. Because Mrs. O’Keefe told me she often went up to the door at night to hear them dancing the set. There’d be a set there every time.

What would he be doing in the town?

He’d just go for messages then, some business.

He was a farmer here?

He was a farmer, yeah. He described one day going down to Kilrush with a toothache, a terrible bad toothache, so he decided that he’d go down and have it drawn. He was just going around the corner of Crotty’s below and he sees this man on a butter box playing the pipes. He pulled up beside him and stayed with him for a while and who was it but the famous piper in Dublin that the wall fell on him – Johnny Doran. So they went into Crotty’s and spent the rest of the day and a good part of the night and then came home after that, and he came home with the tooth and it was buried with him. And I told a story one night about one night that he was playing in Quilty with Joe Cooley. Himself and my father were backing up for Leo Rowsome this night, and a fellow said to me afterwards, he said “If Leo never came, we were going to have a mighty night.” But Leo came anyway – but what I didn’t know is it was for the famous piper that the wall fell on him. A benefit thing –

Barry was telling me earlier that when he learned tunes he had a very specific bowing for each tune.

Well, the likes of Barry would know that better because he might talk to Barry about that, but he’d never mention it to us now, about the bowing technique. But himself now and George Whelan, what do you call the schoolmaster that was in Kerry – O’Keefe – they could knock six notes out of the pull of a bow, they were the only two.

You know the way he tuned the fiddle for ‘The Foxhunters’, were there any other tunes that we would play that way?

He used to play one other jig, I don’t know whether I have it or not – he used to play a jig when he had it tuned up. And he’d leave it up, he’s leave it that way, and he could play away a few tunes after that. But ‘The Foxhunter’ he wouldn’t play that often. He could play several sessions and he’d never play ‘The Foxhunter’, because he always tuned the fiddle up to do it. So, except at the end of night and someone would ask him to play the Foxhunter and then he might play a couple of tunes after with the fiddle still tuned the same, the same tuning.

(BT) And he did tell me that later on in his life, and I’m not sure of the logic of it, but he did say that he actually he tended to tune down to GDGD to get the same effect.

Sure, you’d break fewer strings that way.

(BT) He said he did as he got older.

Well, on all the recordings he’s tuned at least a step below concert pitch.

(BT) A lot of the old fiddle players tended to tune down, rather than concert pitch.

Well, how would they play then with a concertina player like Mrs Crotty?

(BT) Well, you listen to a lot of Mrs Crotty’s concertina playing and she plays things in very funny tunings. She doesn’t play in standard pitch settings. A lot of musicians played a lot on their own, they wouldn’t be playing all the time with other people, because there weren’t those other people to play with. There wasn’t the profusion of musicians we have today.

(TK) There weren’t no, because they weren’t there. I remember a fellow -- Micho Dick Murphy. Micho would come to a dance here in Tullabrack, and he’d have to be brought on a bicycle, bring in on the bar of a bike from Kilmihil back to his, and he’d play all night on his own on the concert flute. Drink a few pints of porter and be brought home then – as long as there was enough porter he’d keep blowing into it. And he had a lovely style of playing, beautiful.

How did Seamus Macmathuna find your father in the first place?

Ah, Seamus was only local. He only came from about a mile over the road. He was born in the parish and we played football with Seamus when we were young. Seamus describes one night he was in Cooraclare around Christmas and, of course, he was always a man to sing a song and he’d put everything into it when he’d be singing it. And they were outside Martin Knowles’ one night around the Christmas and late in the morning, about three o’clock in the morning, and there was five or six or eight them outside the door and Seamus began to sing this song and he closed the eyes and he’d get right into it, and when it was all over there wasn’t a sound. Not a sound – he looked around and there was nobody there. And there was the squad car across the road, and the cop stuck his head out and said, “Will you go away home now, sonny, and let the people of the village sleep.” “I had to hang me head,” he said, “and walk down to the village.”

And did he broadcast it on the radio, the recording?

Well Comhaltas never got much to do on the radio at all. You never heard any Comhaltas on the radio at all. No it didn’t get much airing at all on Radio Eireann.

But you hear about these other players – Sean Ryan was on the radio, Paddy Canny was on the radio.

But it was Ciaran MacMathuna that played them you see. Because he had a half an hour’s program every week, but my father and Ciaran never saw eye to eye. Oh not at all. Because Ciaran was a Limerick man, he had a degree in agriculture and he knew nothing whatsoever about music, only what people told him when he started. In town one day, he was recording inside, and there was somebody from around– a very good concertina player, but he had his pants all torn and he wasn’t able to fill his glass for him, and Ciaran wouldn’t take him. And my father wouldn’t take that kind of stuff, and he told him what he thought of him. So that was the end of the friendship. And as you know, Ciaran is still playing the fifteen or twenty players that he made thirty years ago.

(BT) He’s lived most of his life off of a very small amount of work.

(TK) A very small amount of people, he’s spent most of his life living off of them. That’s the way he lived- people looked after him, and he had to be kept drinking all day, and all night. That’s how he lived his life. But my father wasn’t taking any of that.

And your father didn’t leave the area much.

No, he didn’t. He never went out of the country. He was in Dublin a couple of times in my memory, that’s about all.

Would he have gone to the Oireachtas or the Fleadh?

Except was quite near. As far as Ennis, that was as far as he went. I remember he went to the Fleadhs that were in Kilrush there. There were some very good Fleadhs there years ago. No, he wasn’t a man for travel at all. I remember one particular day, we were at home and we had about ten acres of hay down, just west of the school there, and there was no way for turning hay or making hay. ‘Twas all hand fork – turn the hay and rake it in with a rake and get a horse and put it into the trams and bring it home. But three or four fellows came, they were Australians, fiddle players, and they came into the meadow above and we were all there, and they were talking away for about quarter of an hour and the next thing you know he stuck the fork and went off and we didn’t see him for two days. We were left saving the hay. Ah, it was something that would take you away every now and again. He didn’t come home until all hours of the morning. He didn’t want us to learn music because he saw what it done to himself and to other people. They stayed out, they stayed out until morning. Because I remember my mother describing looking out the window one morning, waiting for him to come home and bring in the cows to get them milked. And she looked out and there he was out on the road, sitting up on the pier of the gate, in the morning, and there was a fellow that lived in the house right across the road from us. And he was step dancer by the name of McInerny, nothing to Paddy now, but he was on the road dancing. And this was before the road was tarred now, and my mother could see the dust coming up over the fence. Wasn’t that some picture? Of a six o’clock in the morning, of a fine summer’s morning, and she could see the dust coming up, and he above only playing the fiddle and your man dancing out on the road.

(BT) Your father wasn’t much of a drinking man, was he Tom?

No he wasn’t – I never saw him drink a pint. He’d drink a half a pint, but never a pint. No.

(BT) I remember Ollie Conway telling me, in Mullach, he’d ramble up there and Ollie said he would always just as soon have a cup of tea and a bun than any kind of drink.

(TK) No, he wasn’t a drinker at all. Oh, he probably was in his young days – most young people when they went out, they tasted it. And there was always drink taken with music, and for that we wouldn’t be in Cooraclare either.

(BT) Well, I think quite a few people weren’t, and drink wasn’t as plentiful then, was it? I mean, people didn’t have the money to go into pubs to drink, and it would be a big occasion if you had a half barrel of porter or something in the house.

(TK) That’s right. They’d bring the barrel of porter in the house and tap it, and fill the glasses then all night.

So the music wouldn’t have been in the pubs so much as in the houses then?

Oh god, no. Not at all. No – there was some pubs. I remember now, when I was growing up in Cree, Walsh’s was the place for the music. Every Sunday, ‘twould be like Carnegie Hall, and the crowd of people that would be there, and there’d be at least nine or ten singers there. And it would go on all day, ‘til Mass time, and then into the night. In the old pub. Because I remember my father saying, whatever you do, don’t you let me catch in that pub up there behind. We used have to go in to hear the singing. It would be mighty.

(BT) Did he play there?

He did, but not in my time. He used to play at Flynn’s. Himself and Sean Flynn were great friends, Sean also played the fiddle. He was a great air player. Very sweet music.

Did your father have any students? Did he teach anyone to play?

No, not as far as I remember. I never saw anybody coming to the house.

And he didn’t want you all to play because he didn’t want you coming in at all hours?

He didn’t want us coming in in the morning, falling about the place. No.

And he’d come in for the morning and work straight away, work for the day?

Oh well, the cows had to be milked the first thing. And the milk go to the creamery. That’s one thing that had to be done on the farm. I suppose it would be early to bed alright that night. But Mrs. Crotty and himself were great friends, and she was great friends with Mary’s uncle, who was a priest in Long Island. And but for him this record (Patrick Kelly from Cree) never would have gone ahead, it was amazing. He had such a hand in it. He such a hand with Mrs Crotty that he brought her to Dublin to make her record, a 78. Monsignor O’Dea, on Long Island. Halfway out the Island. We used to call him Father Martin O’Dea. He couldn’t play, but he loved music and he could put a name on every tune, as it was played. And he used to bring the music over to America, you see. Because famous Paddy Killoran was beside him: Paddy got Multiple Sclerosis in his old days and couldn’t play, and he [O’Dea] used to go down the night and play the music for him. Bring down these tapes that he used to make at home. So the tapes were outside then and he died 25 years ago that man did, Father Martin O’Dea and he left the tapes to a niece of his. And she brought them home here about three years ago, and she left them in at the house here some day that I was gone working. Mary just took them in and put them into a press inside of the kitchen and thought no more of it. And they were there since. I didn’t know they were there, and there was a woman then from Kilrush and she wanted me to make a tape I made for her 40 years ago. Father Martin used to come here on the holidays, and I had made these tapes.

And he would bring them to America to play for Paddy Killoran?

That’s right.

He used to play a lot of set dances. ‘An Suisin Ban’, ‘The Blackbird’.

(BT) But I think one of the things Seamus said, it was a bit of a pity that some more of the slides and polkas weren’t included.

Yes, Seamus was anxious that they would because he said he was one of the best jig players in Ireland. It was a pity that there wasn’t more of them put on. But when you’re in Clare you play reels, and if you don’t, you aren’t wanted. That’s as far as I can see, all my life.

So the tapes that Ceol an Chlair were made from are totally different tapes than the new album?

Oh yes, totally different. But like, as you know yourself, you’ll probably play much the same music most nights, for sessions. They were in different places along the way, but it was much the same music all the time.

Players now will have loads and loads of tunes—he wouldn’t have had as many tunes?

No, he wouldn’t. I forget now did I hear him saying that his father had 200 reels.

And what players would he have spoken well of?

The Caseys—Bobby and Thady. In fiddle players, this Mac from Kilmihil, he was always talking about him. Danny MacNamara. Then there was a fellow just above Brown’s there, living in there in the bog: Denny Mescall.

Now this fellow Martin O’Dea that I was telling you about. He brought Mrs. Crotty to Dublin to make her first record, the 78 with the two tunes: ‘The Reel with the Birl’ and ‘The Wind that shakes the Barley’. But you see as it was with all the old musicians, and as it was with my father on that tape there, they all played single tunes. But he had her told now, you’re to play two tunes after one another without a stop. Father Martin had her told, and she started after leaving here, practicing, and they were in the Curragh of Kildare when she got it. I often heard him telling that.

And the way she played ‘The Reel with the Birl’ is quite similar to the way your father did.

(BT) I guess he must learnt it from her actually, because ‘The Reel with the Birl’ is a bit of a conundrum as to what it really is. The first part is just a straight forward ‘Drowsy Maggie’, and the second part, well I think Mick Tubridy reckons that it comes from a tune, ‘Sleepy Maggie’, which I think is the next tune in O’Neill’s to ‘Drowsy Maggie’. But I’ve tried it and it doesn’t seem that to me at all. When you try and play it on the concertina, ‘Drowsy Maggie’, in the key that she plays it in (she plays it in Am, if I remember rightly, on the middle row of the concertina, it is almost impossible to play the standard second half of ‘Drowsy Maggie’ on the middle row because the notes aren’t there. So I think, my interpretation, that it’s an adaptation of ‘Drowsy Maggie’.

(TK) ‘Tis unique to her, anyway.

I’d say that Martin Hayes got a lot of music from your father. His version of ‘The Morning Star’ and ‘O’Connell’s Farewell’.

I don’t know really. The east and the west Clare musicians never got together much, years ago.

(BT) Well, you say that Tom, but I’m not sure it’s entirely true. Martin Rochford was a great friend of Junior Crehan’s.

(TK) Oh, he was an exception. Martin Rochford, you see, had a lime lorry and he traveled all around the west delivering lime. And he used to call to my father. And I remember they’d a few times at Brown’s, they had a little shop at the corner there. Mrs. Brown was from Cree herself, and she had a brother who was Paddy Cunningham, who was an out and out flute player. My father classed him as the “Matt Molloy of Cree.” He was probably older than the rest of them around, and we thought it was fright for Paddy to give up playing. But Paddy was 80 years like. He lived over about a mile beyond our house, further on towards Glenenagh. He’d be almost across from Paddy McInerny.

(BT) And did your father play with Paddy Cunningham?

Oh he did, yeah. Of course, they had a marching band in Cree, before my time, because I remember – well, there was flutes there anyway, and there was the big drum. And there was the cymbals, and a couple of small drums. I remember when I was, I suppose about 9 or 10 years of age, a priest came back from England. He was Kelly from Cooraclare – he was in Scotland, he came back and he started a football team between Cree, Droomilihy, Cooraclare, and there was a team here. He put four teams together and he put up a set of medals: football had kind of died down in the place, this time, and he wanted to start it up again, so this is what he done. So he put up the set of medals and he put four teams together. And on the day of the final, we were against Cooraclare, Cree were against Cooraclare. And to make it a big occasion, they got out the drum, and the whole menagerie on that particular day. And that was the last time it was ever seen. It’s not out anymore.

So when did they have this marching band?

That was, around maybe 1945-46.

And was Patrick in the band?

He was, yeah, playing the fiddle. They had fiddles in it, Mickey Kelly I remember. Tommy Golden, he was in it, my uncle, he played the drums. I don’t know if they have any picture of it. ‘Twas the first band ever to broadcast on Radio Eireann was the Cree Ceili Band, and it was done below from the town hall, through the phone. And Mrs. Crotty was inside in the pub and she went out to tell them to tune down the drums that they were too loud. ‘Cause she could hear it on the radio inside. A ceili band.

And who was in that?

All that crowd now, probably Paddy McInerny and Paddy Cunningham, Tommy Golden and my father and all that crowd. And I think a couple from Kilrush played with them that are dead and gone now, I can’t name them anymore.

So there was a Cree Ceili Band?

There was.

And how long did that go for?

I don’t know – that’s history now. That was the last day it came out, was the day we won the set of medals in Cooraclare. Pat Joe was playing, my brother, he was on it. It was back in the forties.

(BT) And when you say they were the first ceili band to broadcast on Radio Eireann, that must have been back in the 20’s

(TK) Must be, yeah.

‘Cause the Ballinakill were playing in the late 20’s.

Well, if you ever get a chance to check that out now. That’s what I was told, that it was the first ceili band to broadcast from Radio Eireann, and it was broadcast from the town hall in Kilrush, right across from Crotty’s there. And Mrs. Crotty did a complement by going out to tell them to turn down the drums because they were smothering the music with it.

And your mother, where did she come from?

My mother was a neighbor, within half a mile of us. She was Golden by name. She was Golden from Cree. They called her “Dilly,” which wasn’t her real name. Margaret she was, but she was always known as Dilly.

[Patrick’s father – Tim Kelly, mother – Marie Killeen] speaking of Marie:

She was a very small woman actually, because you can see her on the sleeve of the CD there and sure you see her standing by my father and my father was only small, probably 5 or 6 or 7, and she was a way smaller than him.

And when would your father have married your mother?

Oh, I couldn’t put a date on it now. As a fellow says, I wasn’t around then.

(BT) Who’s the oldest in your family Tom?

(TK) Susie May, my sister.

(BT) How old is she?

(TK) She’s 73 gone.

(BT) So she was born about 1931.

...tea break…

Now, when you were growing up around here, would the only music you heard around here have been Irish music, or would have heard jazz and other things?

Well, it was mostly Irish music. I always remember there was fellow used to repair bicycles, just above Cree, Bill Green was his name. And he started selling records, and Susie May went back and bought a record one day. ‘Twas burned. My father burned it, that’s a fact. It didn’t last long.

(BT)
Did you have a record player?

(TK) Oh we did. A gramophone.

(BT) I’m surprised your father let a gramophone in the house.

(TK) Oh, the gramophone was there.

(BT) He was very ambivalent about 78 records, Coleman and the kind. He said to me he thought they were great, wonderful players, but it kind of discouraged local musicians. Some of them were kind of put off by the fact that suddenly they heard Michael Coleman and they had been scratching away for years. And everybody had been happy with them playing, and suddenly Coleman appeared on the scene and they were afraid of this. And it put a lot of them off playing; others found it inspiring because they learned from them.

So, you wouldn’t have had 78s of Coleman and Morrison in the house.

Oh, there was, yeah. I don’t know, he probably bought them. They were there though, I don’t know who bought them. But he’d allow them fine, but ‘buttons and bows’, there was no way ‘buttons and bows’ would come in to our house. About the only thing he listened to on radio was the news and Irish music.

So he would listen to Ceili House and the other programs?

All that, and he had his tape recorder ready, his small Grundig, with three inch tapes above on the top of it. And he’d be taping different bits of music all the time.

(BT) He used to have the tape player plugged into the light socket, I remember that. A cable running down from the light socket. The very first thing he said to me, after hello and what have you, was ‘What do you think of Paddy Keenan’s piping?” That was the very first thing he said. He had heard Paddy Keenan on the radio

And what did he think of Paddy Keenan?

(BT) He thought he was great. That’s the thing I remember: he was very up to date with everything that was going on. There wasn’t much Irish music on the radio in that period, very little. Ciaran’s Sunday morning program, and I think The Long Note was on then. But there was very little: there never was much until very recently.

(TK) Yeah, half an hour in the week was the most. And there’d be loads of people writing in about, but what’s the use.

So Patrick would have had an appreciation for someone like Paddy Keenan?

(BT) Oh yeah, he just loved the music.

(TK)Well, Matt Molloy of course, and then Sean Maguire. Thought Maguire was the daddy of them all when it came to fiddle playing. What he could do with the fiddle… I remember he was in the tavern one night. One night, he was there. The tavern, now, was a fine big place, and ‘twas packed, people were so close to one another. And he wasn’t the type now that would play for sets, that was beneath him like. He was an exhibition player, but he played for sets that night, and about one o’clock in the night he stood up behind the microphone and he played ‘Roisin Dubh’ on the fiddle. Well lads, you’d hear a pin drop the way he played that music. I never heard anything like it. He almost made it cry. It’s something that stayed with me all my life; I never forgot it, it was so haunting.

At Kelly home, Cree.

Jim; My grandmother used to get the snuff there, and if Marty filled the snuff she’d know it was he filled it, because he’d only give the bare amount, but if the wife filled it, she’d know the wife filled it, there’d be a small bit more in it. And they were Marty and Molly Tubridy.

Tom: And they used to torment the life of him, because he used have to have everything right and everything in its place, and one night they put a full tank of water up above the door, the front door of the shop. And ‘twas full to the top with water, and when he opened the door, you see, all the water came in and it hit him and right across the floor. Oh they used to torment the life of him.

Jim: Cree was supposed to be an awful rough spot in those times. So and so was supposed to have said that wherever the devil went by day, he was at the cross of Cree by night. And she also said that any second generation of any family wouldn’t live at the cross of Cree, and it has never yet happened.

So he was only ten when his father died, and an only child. What would they have done then for money, just a ten year old boy and the mother?

Jim: Well, there was no money that time. Money was a very scarce commodity. They were self-sufficient, you see. The people around here, they were self-sufficient at that time, or almost self-sufficient.

Tom: Everyone had their own gardens, and cows for milk, and made the butter. And a pig to kill at the end of the year.

It’s a lot for a ten year old boy, isn’t it?

Jim: Well, you see, all the neighbors would help

Tom: There was a lot of people around, and everyone would chip in.

How did your grandfather die?

Tom: I don’t know what killed him. I don’t know did he get a heart attack or what.

Anne: It could even be appendicitis at the time, people were dying from appendicitis at the time here. And the operation wasn’t discovered for it at all. The people used to poultice to it for the pain in their side and burst it, that’s what they used to do thinking they were doing good.

So the neighbors would come and help with the pig at the end of the year?

Oh yeah. And with the hay and with everything. I remember that was happening in the 50s and 60s, you would have all the neighbors coming in and giving you a hand. There was so many.

Jim: Well they’d all join, you see, to do all the work. They shared the work. When the pig would be killed, people they made what is known as puddings. The black pudding that you’d get here. The intestines were washed and cleaned out, and washed and re-washed, and then they’d be filled up with the blood. The blood would be boiled. No, it wouldn’t. When it would be taken from the pig, they’d be kept stirring it and then you put in the oatmeal and onions and spices and fill the puddings. And they were boiled then, and hung up on a rack, or the handle of a brush across some chairs. And then some of the puddings would go to the neighbors all around, and a few slices of the pig, steak. And when the other person killed the pig then, you see, we got it back again. So you hadn’t a whole lot of it – for a long, long time you were in steak, you see, and fresh pudding. That was the way it went around. The same way it went with the cutting and putting in of the hay. People came and they made up the hay and you went then, my father was one for making the wynds, making sure they were straight. He had an eye for that, and that was his job in the hay-yard. He’d keep going all day, showing them where to hit down the hay, and he’d be raking around the side of it, keeping it.

Tom: There was no hay barns or anything that time. They came later. I remember when the hay barns were put up. The government gave a grant to put up the hay barns, which was one of the greatest things as far as a farmer was concerned. When hay was saved, all you had to do was dry it and put it into the barn. Otherwise it had to be made into cocks, and thatched with rushes, and tied securely for the winter so the storms wouldn’t ruin it.

So when did the barns go in?

The barns started, I suppose, around 1952. The government gave a grant for hay barns in the early 50s. They went up everywhere fast.

Jim: You see, it was one thing to put in the hay, but then you had to thatch it afterwards. And then you had to knit it, as they say. Keep going around it, all the way to secure it. ‘twas non-stop like. ‘Twas the whole year’s work all around. Then it was cut and put into the cows and the cattle were fed with it over the winter. It was a full time job on the farm to keep things going.

Anne: And you’d draw it out on your back, make a batt of it with a rope and you’d bring it out on your back, out to the cattle that would be out in the fields. ‘Twas all hard work – there was nothing soft about it.

So Patrick would have been doing this from the time he was a young lad?

Tom: Yeah, he would. We had land behind in Cree, and about 8 cows I suppose we had. We had 8 calves then and then we’d have 8 year and a halfs. And they would be kept on the land back in Cree, and there’d be maybe two wynds of hay behind them. He’d have them and then during the winter he’d be giving hay to the cattle twice a day, morning and evening.

In the summer when hay was being done, was there any time for music? Or was that just in winter time?

Jim: Oh, he’d never work late. He’d always finish – well the cows would have to be milked in the evening, but he’d always finish in fair good time, unless there was rain promised or something and we were making up hay, he wouldn’t stay out too late. He’d come in there and I can see them – when Tom came up with the tape the first time – I could see him sitting down there in the corner, he sat in there, that corner there, by the wall. We had an open fire, a big open fire before we put in the range. And he’d sit into the corner there and he start to play, and he’d play away for the night, every tune he had. He’d never go back over one he had played, he’d play away for the whole night.

Tom: We were saying back there that he probably hadn’t that many tunes. How many tunes had he? Sure, my grandfather was supposed to have 200 tunes.

Jim: I couldn’t say, but he had a lot of tunes. He hardly ever followed in to a second tune. He nearly always stopped after playing the one tune.

Eamonn McGivney talked then about some polka or something my father played, and he used a spoon or something in the playing of it.

Tom: He used to use a knife here one time, on his mouth, while playing. It was ‘The Foxchase’. Oh, this is back years and years now.

O’Keefe did the same thing, holding a big key in his mouth to make a sound like a baby crying.

Tom: Yeah, like a caoineadh crying.

Jim: Oh, that was for the fox then, I suppose.

So, when he has playing the tunes, would they stay the same every time?

Tom: Oh, I think he used to change them, he’d put in little variations and he wouldn’t play them the same way again then the next time around. It was often he would put in his own little bits.

You were saying as we got out of the car that Patrick was a whistle player as well.

He was. He played it up until the night he died. And he played the accordion one time. There was an accordion here he used to knock a rattle out of it. He played ‘Tomeen O’Dea’s Reel’ anyway [on the whistle], because he made out it couldn’t be done right on the fiddle.

Jim: My father wouldn’t ever talk much about politics or anything, you know.

(BT) Would he talk about music a lot?

No, not that much. ‘Twould be whoever’d come you see, you’d hear what was going on.

Was he a religious man at all?

Jim: Well he was fairly, yeah. He was.

Anne: People used take him into their confidence about things, neighbors. They’d be looking for advice, or maybe they’d be low on money.

And he’d have the money to loan them?

Jim: He would. Whatever he had, he wouldn’t leave them short like. I didn’t discover that until I was bringing a neighbor to hospital that had cancer, and tis he told me about all the times my father helped him out with money, and he had said no one ever heard anything that happened between anyone and my father. But he was that way, he was secretive, and it was only if you heard someone else saying it.

And how many of you were there?

Seven of us, six boys and a girl. And we’re all still intact. Susie May is in London.


Appendix 3

Aeroplanes out of Scrapheaps

Appendix5