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

NEXT SESSION: Boyle: Saturday, 20 October 2018.

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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.


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.

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