CONCERT REVIEW – Aloy O’Brien Memorial Concert

Christ Church Cathedral hosted an international concert in Memoriam, Aloy O’Brien, Newfoundlander of Irish/Ballyhale origin, who did so much for cultural exchange and established a permanent “bridge” between both islands. Carrick-on-Suir’s, Tom Nealon was Fear a’Ti and the concert eventually got off to an unsound start, nearly forty minutes after its advertised time.

However, a Canadian quartet of Graham Wells, Billy Sutton, Mike Hanrahan and Dave Clark got the spirits up with, Rise Up Lovely Sweeney(Rocks of Bawn). The mood was old timey and the mics were dodgy.

Carrick duo, Dave Cooney (guitar) and Marietta O’Keeffe (vocals) delighted with Songs We Love To Sing. The sound system had clarity as Marietta soared on, You Will Be The Light, and her version of John Prine’s, My Sleepy Eyed Boy, was beautiful.

Dunaill, the Dunhill Ballad Group attempted to tune up and balance their sound while the Fear a’Ti tried to tell some jokes and when manners and order were restored, this fine five piece entertained in great style. A fine fiddle intro led into the Eric Bogle, Goodbye My Nancy O. An uncredited singer delivered a beautiful, The Songbird made famous by Eva Cassidy but composed by Chrissie McVie of Fleetwood Mac, whose own name was Christine Perfect. This was musical perfection.

The Wexford Traditional a capella singers, Niall Wall, Paddy Berry, John Ennis and Paul O’Reilly closed off the first half with a lovely, Poor little Jimmy Murphy. Paddy Berry was wonderful on a Nicky Rackard tribute song and the audience were vocal in their appreciation of The Lowlands Low, and an excellent, Boolavogue.

The interval seemed longer than expected and a mixed dozen of young musicians, Celtic Fiddlers, from Newfoundland, impressed with the Pamela Morgan version of, The Green Shore Of Fogo. Social exclusion was the angry theme for a Gary O’Driscoll song, Out Of St. Leonards, that drew comparisons between the money a Canadian government spent, contributing to World wars, while allowing island communities at home to be uprooted and moved. This group pleased with, The Waterboys, Fisherman’s Blues, and gave the gathering a lively set of tunes to lead into Allan Ricketts on mandolin, doing a memorable, Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore.

Tributes were paid to Corona Brophy who organised, Celtic Fiddlers and Sherry Gambin Walsh the Co-ordinator of Newfoundland’s Community Inclusion.

Then Cor Fear na Deise from Rinn a’gCuanach at Helvick, thrilled the audience with rousing songs, as Gaeilge, and some fine instrumental work to set the audience home happy.

I like the way Newfoundland people celebrate their own people, a message those, in Waterford, who downgraded Sean Dunne, might take to heart.

A fine booklet, Tipperary Trails To Newfoundland, has been produced by Tom Nealon and Garter Lane Arts Centre, hosted an interesting exhibition, A Journey of Plants and People. Aloy O’Brien was a farmer and botanist and his influence on shared plants and seeds is memorable.