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

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

History Lectures at Waterford Medieval Museum

By Guest Blogger Pat Rohan

Image result for noel browne against the tide

You know you're on to a winner when you fill a room with over 150 people for a lunchtime history lecture  at the Garden Room in Waterford Treasures Museum. On Wednesday we heard the 'season finale' of a series of lectures by Eugene Broderick. The series ranged over a number of topics in the 20th Century. The topic this time was Noel Browne and the Mother & Baby Scandal from 1948-51.
Image result for mother and baby scheme ireland
Topic of the day
Eugene Broderick is an engaging speaker and brings an enthusiasm and insightful communication style to his talks. The wonderful memoir from Browne, Against The Tide, was the platform from the talk and Broderick referenced it a lot as well as other primary research he had conducted.

It was noted that Browne's birthplace of Bath St, Waterford was mentioned en passant in the book but nevertheless a monument  is now at the spot. Browne detailed the abject poverty he grew up with following the death of his father and saw immediate family members die from the curse of the time, tubercelosis. 

Browne was fortunate to receive financial support that led to his qualification as a medical doctor. He entered politics as a member of Clann Na Poblachta the coalition government and became Minister for Health. He championed the Mother and  Child Bill that was aimed at delivering healthcare to young children and maternity care to mothers.
Image result for noel browne bath street waterford
Local Monument
Broderick unravelled the various forces that were active at the time. The conventional wisdom is that the catholic church was the cause of the bill's failure and Browne's departure as a minster. He illustrated that whilst the church was indeed against  the bill the medical profession played an equally hostile role albeit without putting this opposition on paper and then there was old fashioned political manoeuvres.

An excellent lecture and the  audience went away much informed on the topic. Watch out for more lectures here

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Soldier's Tale: Ortús Festival

I interviewed a young  Irish violinist. Patrick Rafter from Kilkenny ahead of his return to Ireland for engagements at the Ortús Festival. The feature appeared in the Irish Examiner.

I traveled to Cork for the final recital in the weekend festival programmed by Sinead O Halloran and Mairéad Hickey. Despite being a rain sodden afternoon, there was a good crowd in the Curtis Auditorium on Union Quay for an interesting programme of work not often heard. I enjoyed L'Histoire du Soldat Suite by Stravinsky. Francis Humphrey's programme notes were full of detail about the work and the background of Stravinsky's travails during WW. The original plan for a seven piece band plus actors was slimmed down to a trio as musicians were laid low with the flu epidemic. The work charts the  story of a soldier returning from the wars with a battered old violin in his knapsack and his encounters with the devil and a princess in 5 episodes. Joining Rafter were Michael McHale and Jessie Grimes on clarinet.  We heard a lovely lyrical serenade by Hans Gal for clarinet, cello and violin. Brahms Trio for Clarinet, Piano and Cello completed the programme. It was good to meet my former violin teacher, Adrian Petcu who acts as artistic advisor to the young festival. With 4 annual weekends under their belts, the festival seems to be establishing itself nicely
in the calendar. Wishing them best wishes in the next endeavours.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A Plethora of Guitars

I heard some amazing guitarists this weekend, all quite different in their styles but all very entertaining.  A reminder of three great gigs.

Claude Bourbon: On Friday, I enjoyed hearing Claude Bourbon played at the Coastguard Station in Tramore, I believe Bourbon is Swiss and based in the North of England.  Here is a number from his set. Given that the venue is quite small with a chamber sized audience in on the night, I wondered if we might have more music making here that dispensed with amplifiers.

Baroque Uke
Tonos at St Patrick's Gateway

Eamon Sweeney: On Saturday, Baroque guitarist Eamon Sweeney was at St. Patrick's Gateway with his duet partner, soprano Róisín O'Grady.  Together, they form Tonos, a duo specializing in the music of 16th -18th centuries  During the set, Sweeney played an assortment of period instruments ukulele, a 5 string guitar  before switching to a lute for a gorgeous set of Irish traditional repertoire and lute songs by John Dowland. Interesting asides delivered while tuning added to the enjoyment of the evening. The event was a fundraiser and there was a big turnout in support of local Green party candidates, Marc O Cathasaigh and Grace O Sullivan.

Albert Niland: Something about Claude Bourbon's fusion of styles reminded me of a Galway guitarist,  who I had heard on a couple of occasions in the West of Ireland. It so happened that  when I looked up the gig listings, Albert Niland was playing in Coughlan's Bar in Cork on Sunday. The backroom venue was full with an audience of  fans and it was a genial relaxed sort of gig with a set list of old favourites and infused with Latin influences and  reminiscences. I picked up a copy of Niland's memoir, Busker on the Verge and I look forward to reading it.

 John Palmer Music Man 

Guitars are John Palmer's biggest seller he told me when I interviewed him for a piece in a series of articles on independent stores in the Irish Examiner. Like so many musicians in Waterford, I've being very glad of the excellent service the shop offers and how dreary would the retail landscape in Waterford without it. Read the piece here