Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Monday, November 1, 2010

Independent Music Clubs Clare; Sean Tyrrell / Kevin Burke


  It has been a week for opera in  various forms and I am just back from Sean Tyrrell's unique traditional opera  setting of 'The Midnight Court'  at the  Frank Hayes' Island Music Club  at the Highway Inn in Crusheen. I think this is one of the most successful one man shows I have seen, both entertaining and thought provoking.  Based on the poem by Brian Merriman in a translation by David Marcus, it is an account of the age old  battle of the sexes, told  in  bawdy verse form and set to music by Tyrrell himself  in a trad' idiom.  The show opened with the spoken word but was mostly related in song to mandola accompaniment.  Although several hundred years old there were many resonances  with modern day Ireland  making it seem very  current. 

Sean Tyrrell in The Midnight Court

One was immediately struck on entering the intimate space that is the backroom of The Highway Inn by the theatrical props of masks, hats and puppets and considerable care had gone in to dressing the windows in lights and  crimson chiffon.  The use of masks to portray the hag and Queen Aeval lent an air of Greek drama and  the plot has some resonance with  the battle of the sexes in Euripides' Lysistrata.

There was something of a festival atmosphere in the Highway Inn this evening as the GAA  Crusheen  Junior A team had won a match  adding to the success of Crusheen GAA  in recent weeks  and the team were in to accept plaudits all adding to the general hurly burly of Saturday night. It was a shame that the venue was not packed to capacity as this show deserved to draw a larger audience.

Another one man outfit who drew a loyal following to Sean Malone's Folk Club at the  Market Tavern in Miltown Malbay on a midweek night was former Bothy Band fiddler Kevin Burke on a rare vist to Clare. I have a vivid memory of seeing the Bothy Band back in the late seventies in Waterford and he cut  a very genial relaxed figure on the small stage clearly very comfortable in the intimate setting. At the interval the afficionados swapped notes on the finer points of his style revelling in the cuts and rolls .  One young man who was serving at the bar spoke of his journey from the McPeake school of music in Belfast to Clare and had just taken up the fiddle.   Burke's very fine style  seemed to draw the sound seductively  out of his instrument and he mixed his tempos offering selections in all the dance forms although  eschewing the slow air format . Even he  could not win me over to the appeal of Breton music. I look forward to hearing his recent collaboaration with members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra and Cal Scott.
I like both these venues and along with the Sixmilebridge Folk Club under stewardship of Brendan Walsh have enjoyed memorble nights of fine music making under their aegis.

Kevin Burke


  1. Discovered your blog with guidance from Frank Hayes. Good stuff Cathy! Eoin O' Neill.

  2. Mr.Burke Burke is a gracious man, a true treasure.