Boyle Traditional Singers' Circle - Ciorcal Ámhránaíochta Traidisiúnta Mhainistir na Búille

3rd Saturday of every month. Next session: 15th August 2019.

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Fáilte - Welcome
to the Boyle Singers' circle - Ciorcal Amhránaíochta Mhainistir na Búille

Traditional unaccompanied singing, in English and Irish.

Dodd’s Crescent Bar (back room), The Crescent, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland.
The third Saturday of every month, all year around, 9.30pm onwards.

All singers and listeners welcome.

Grace Toland: guest at the Boyle Traditional Singers' Circle, Saturday, 15 November

Grace Toland will be the guest at the Boyle Traditional Singers' Circle's regular 3rd Saturday session, on Saturday, 15 November, 9.30, in Dodd's Crescent Bar, The Crescent, Boyle, Co. Roscommon.

Grace, from Inishowen, Co. Donegal, is one of the main organisers of the popular, annual, Inishowen International Folk Song & Ballad Seminar. Grace has recorded with many leading traditional singers, including Barry Gleeson and the Voice Squad.
The Boyle Traditional Singers' Circle meet the third Saturday of every month in Dodd's Crescent Pub, The Crescent, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, 9.30pm, Admission, free.

Len Graham at the Boyle Traditional SIngers' Circle, Arts week 2014.

‘I am a rambling Irish man...’. Len Graham first heard a fragment of this song over fifty years ago, in 1963, from Joe Holmes. Joe introduced himself to Len at an Antrim and Derry Fiddlers’ Association gathering, and gave him one verse and the chorus of the Rambling Irishman. Len later got three more verses from Joe’s daughter in Belfast. Len gave it to Cathal McConnell, and it was on the first Boys of the Lough album. Dolores Keane heard it from Len and it was on the first Dé Danann album also. Further verses have come to light in America and were brought to Len’s attention when he visited Boston College, a couple of years ago, showing the song dates back, possibly, to the end of the 18th century, as the Eliza, referred to in one of the verses, left Co. Fermanagh in 1790.  
            ‘Twas on a Sunday morning, as Phoebus was adawning,
‘Twas on the day we sailed away, on the brig they call Eliza;
When four or five of our best men by fever were compounded,
Aye, and seven more jumped overboard, were wilfully drowndèd.

Len Graham, from Co. Antrim, visited Boyle for the first time in 1966, for the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil. In July 2014, he was the guest of the Boyle Traditional Singers’ Circle, for a special singing night, organised by the Traditional Singers’ Circle and sponsored by Boyle Arts Festival, bringing his extensive store of song-knowledge to the singing workshop and the evening singing session which followed.

The Rambling Irishman was the first song of the workshop. The second song was a song Len’s neighbour sings and Len’s been searching for over 50 years to find it elsewhere and hasn’t yet been successful.

One morning in May, as I carelessly did stray
For to view yon gay meadows and the lambs sport and play
In the clear morning dew, as I lay down to muse
A fair maiden of honour appeared in my view.

Len also had the singers singing Mary Ann Carolan’s version of the Bonny Light Horseman. Mrs. Carolan (1929-1993) from Drogheda, Co. Louth, has left a strong legacy of songs and singing. The family’s singing tradition is being kept alive by her son, Pat and grandson, Stewart.

The story to the next song again stretched back to the 1960s: Clones – 50th anniversary of the 1964 All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil. Amongst the eminent musicians revisiting Clones for the anniversary was Tommy MacDermott, from Rosslea, Co. Fermanagh. Tommy, now nearly 90 years of age, launched Matt Hyland, at the Clones Fleadh Cheoil in 1964. The song has now gone into the folk tradition.

There was a lord, lived in this town, who had a handsome, comely, daughter,
She was courted by a fair young man, who was a servant to her father.

Once the workshop was over, the singing session itself got underway. There were several local singers first and then it was back to Len. He dedicated his first song to Pauline Sweeney Hanley, originally from Donegal, a wonderful singer, sadly recently deceased. It was a song of Sarah Anne O’Neill’s, Dobbin’s Flowery Vale:
As I roved out one evening fair, in the pleasant month of June.

Len’s selection of songs was interspersed with anecdotes, one about an ancestor of his own, Wally Graham, who was hanged, drawn and quartered. His head was paraded around the town, but the crier, instead of saying, as he was supposed to: ‘Behold the head of the traitor Graham’ garbled the message and cried: ‘Behold the head of the craythur Graham’. In 1955, Len’s father brought him to see the beech tree where Wally was hanged, but it had blown down in the big wind of 1947 and was  there no more.
                Oh William McKeever, Oh you are much to blame ...

The room at the back of Dodd’s was bursting with singers, so just to mention a few: from the floor, Róisín Ní Ghallóglaigh, who was singing in King House the following day, (where she was accompanied by Alan Reid from Leitrim), sang the Lowlands of Holland. Jackie Boyce, from the Drumkieran Leitrim singers sang

                The Nightingale

Oh woeful was the day when I was pressed to sail afar
And leave behind the girl I loved in the town of Ballinagard.
The shady groves were my delight till I was forced to sail.
You all may guess at my distress lying in the Nightingale.

And Clare McGuirk (Boyle) sang the Maid of Coolmore

If I had the power, the storm to rise
I would blow the wind higher for to darken the skies
I would blow the wind higher to make the salt seas to roar
On the day that my love sailed away from Coolmore

Len Graham is to be a guest of Jackie Boyce and Jim Bainbridge’s Drumkieran singers early in November. We hope they have as good a session as we had in Boyle and we hope to see them back in Boyle with us, November 15th, when our guest will be the Donegal singer, Grace Toland.

Góilín Song Project


Góilín Song Project

was launched at the Frank Harte Weekend, last Friday night (September 26th, 2014) in Dublin.

The Góilín Club is a traditional singing club that has been meeting, (almost) every Friday night, (with a break for the Summer months) in Dublin city, since 1979. The venue has changed a few times over the years, and the club is currently to be found in the Teachers' Club on Parnell Square.

The Góilín Song Project is a selection of recordings made at the club over the years:
"Some 700 audio recordings made at the Góilín since the early 1980s can be heard here, supplemented with photographs, printed items, singer profiles and video interviews. This is an ongoing collaborative project of the Góilín and ITMA."

ITMA is the Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann, the Irish Traditional Music Archive, 73 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

John Reilly plaque

A plaque in memory of the singer John Reilly, who lived in Boyle in the 1960s, was erected on the wall of the premises that was once the Grehan's pub and home, on September 13th last. The artist commissioned to create the plaque is Fergus Lyons, who has lived locally for many years.

John Reilly was a welcome guest in the Grehan's house any time he visited. His singing and his songs, some thought to have dropped out of singers' store of songs a hundred years before they were recorded from John Reilly in the 60s, have influenced singers far and wide.

If you drop in to the Boyle Singers Session any month, third Saturday, you may well hear a John Reilly song. If you have one yourself, we'd love to hear it.

Next Singers Session, in Dodds (right next-door to the building where John Reilly's plaque is), on the Crescent in Boyle, Saturday, September 20th, 2014.

Fáilte roimh chách.

We had an extra singing session: THURSDAY, 31 July 2014: Annual Boyle Arts Week singing session.
Special guest: Len Graham

Report will follow.

Barry Gleeson poster

The Grehan Sisters and Christy Moore in Boyle.

There was a concert to be remembered in Boyle on Thursday, 26th June. It was organised to raise money for a memorial to the singer, John Reilly, a traveller, who lived for several years in Boyle, during the nineteen sixties.

Christy Moore first heard John Reilly sing at a Fleadh Ceoil in Boyle and brought many of those songs he heard with him, to Planxty (“The Well Below the Valley-oh” and “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” are just two). The Grehan Sisters, Francie, Marie and Helen, knew John Reilly well, as he spent a lot of time in their house when they were young.

The Grehans kicked off the show with “My Uncle is a TD”– where, even if you’ve never heard it, you’d recognise the sentiment. The Grehan Sisters are a fabulous group. Their stagecraft and entertainment skills have not diminished over the years. They slowed the set, speeded it up, and sang songs, sad, silly and serious. 

Helen nearly brought the house down early on with her version of John Reilly’s “Captain”:
“Once there lived a captain,
Who was borne out for sea,
And before that he got married,
He was sent far away...”

And again, later, with her own song, “Where soldiers go”.

The energy of the three sisters was a wonderful lead-in to the second part of the show.

Christy Moore came out quietly, sat down, and immediately set out, unaccompanied, on Lord Baker:
“There was a Lord who lived in this land
He being a Lord of high degree
He left his foot down on a ship’s board
And swore strange countries he would go find”

It was a reminder, if one was needed, of what an excellent teller of tales he is.

Seamie O’Dowd turned up to accompany him on most of his set; (“I met him at a session and told him about this gig, he said, ‘that’d be a great gig to be at’, I said: ‘I can get you a seat’...”).

Christy sang most of his John Reilly 'specials': “The Well below the Valley-oh”, “Raggle-taggle gypsy”, “What put the blood” and more, giving them all the attention and the affection they deserved.  He accepted a couple of requests, one  from Helen Grehan, “As I went out on a Summer’s eve” and one from Marie Grehan, “that song that always made me cry”... after some searching, that turned out to be the “Ludlow Massacre”. 

We had “Black is the colour”, “The Man from RTE” (Fintan Vallely), “Cliffs of Doneen” and (“now, a song for The Ming”) “I’m a bogman”.

The focus was on the John Reilly and other traveller songs, however, so we heard, “Blue Tar Road”, “Go, move, shift” and Ewan MacColl’s, “I’m a freeborn man of the travelling people” from Christy. Fergus Russell from the Góilín Club in Dublin was invited up to sing a song he wrote himself about travelling man, “Pat Rainey”, and Jerry O’Reilly, also from the Góilín, sang a John Reilly song.

Some members of John Reilly’s family were in the audience, as were members of the late Tom Munnelly’s family. Tom recorded many of the songs made famous later by Christy Moore, from John Reilly himself. These recordings are now in the National Folklore Collection in UCD.

The concert finished with the Grehans back on stage to join Christy Moore and Seamie O’Dowd. There was much affectionate banter, for, as we were reminded during the concert, they have been friends and musical colleagues for over fifty years. Christy suggested Seamie move to the edge of the group to let Francie in beside him, but when she took the mike at the edge herself, he made some comment along the lines of, “Turned down again, nothing’s changed”!

The last bit was true, for the music, anyway, judging by the appreciative enthusiasm of the crowd, nothing has.

Pauline Hanly (née Sweeney)

We are very sorry to hear that Pauline Hanly passed away last Saturday after a long illness.
All of us who have had the pleasure of hearing her sing will regret the early passing of such a wonderful singer. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam.

19 May 2014

Twenty singers gathered in the back of Dodd's the other night, a couple of reciters and the always-welcome listeners.

We had two visitors from England, who came to Boyle especially for the Traditional Singers session - Alan and Síle - both lovely singers. Alan sang a great version of the Kerry Hills and Frank followed shortly after with Ewan McColl's eulogy to the mountains: the Joy of Living and Tony soon followed up with the Boys of Barr na Sráide.

In the YouTube clip linked to below, Christy Moore sings that song, and Christy is to be heard soon in Boyle. He'll be giving a concert, along with the Grehan sisters, on June 26th: a tribute concert to the traditional singer, John Reilly, who died in 1969. Christy Moore and many other singers owe significant songs in their repertoire to John Reilly.

The other night was a night for songs of emigration too, from Breege, Naas, Billy and Clíona, who sang the Rambling Irishman, reminded of it by the excellent documentary which was screened during the week on Dolores Keane and also by the fact that it's on the new Voice Squad (Phil Callery, Gerry Cullen, Fran McPhail) album.

The reciters were Frances and Padraig McGinn. Frances had poems by a local man, Seamus Kelly about the coming of electrification to the countryside and the Bord na Móna village at Lanesborough. We had the dán macaronic from Mr McGinn, Micheál Mór. Jim Bainbridge sang a song 'in his own language' as he put it - something about the main character's wife being an 'amazer' for the amount of booze she managed to swallow! You'll have to ask Jim for the words - we got the sense but not the full script!

George left Old Skibbereen and Tony went to London so fair, while Sean sang the Town I loved so Well and Marie had Andy M Stewart's Two Orphans.

Joe Corscadden was away shopping in AldiliddleAldi but had time for politics with Joe Frawley, the Councillor.

There were better notes than usual as the regular beer mat scribblings were supplemented by notes taken on proper paper. Now there's an innovation. Thanks Frances.
Kerry Hills (sung in this clip by Jimmy O'Brien of Killarney) 
Ewan McColl's eulogy to the mountains: the Joy of Living
Boys of Barr na Sráide (Christy Moore singing in this clip)

Boyle Singers Circle poster