The Music For New Ross Spring Concert Programme has been just amazing so far with the second of its Three Sunday Afternoons At Three Thirty featuring Shaun Davey, Rita Connolly in the company of Gerry O’Beirne and Concertina virtuoso Eoin Begley.
It was that sort of Spring day when it was warmer outside St. Mary’s Church than within. This was a rare occasion as these people don’t tour or gig like this, very often.
Gerry O’Beirne, a multi-instrumentalist, in baseball cap, jeans and faded patterned shirt, began with a gently folky 12-string guitar piece, Long Beating Wing. This was meditative stuff of the – Well here I am today, in a kind of lost tomorrow – style. He gentled into his song, The Holy Ground, full of sailing for adventure, humming birds, dark haired maidens, wild horses, running in fields of clover in old Mexico.
Then I almost dreaded a little ukelele piece – I ride on a mail train baby and if I don’t make it, my baby will.
Then, direct from Wicklow snow, Shaun Davey and his occasional band, no written programme in that old folksy style like they make it up as they go along but such musicianship and singing is nature bred and honed in hearth and heart, came on.
Rita Connolly sent a shiver through the audience with her crystal clear singing voice on a Burl Ives, Venezuela and her Valparaiso was hypnotic – when will the wind blow me down there again? Eoin Begley’s concertina added an antipodean tango feel to the work.
Davey introduced a Sherkin Island song, inspired by novelist and playwrite Sebastian Barry and it ached with leaving and going away. A Thom Moore, Midnight Well, song shifted gear into a happy Millworkers song and Eoin Begley got the audience in foot-tapping mood with a hornpipe that moved the tune into your heart as the mood changed into a softer more beautiful jig.
It was pure magic as Rita Connolly sang Ripples In The Rockpools.
After the tea and conviviality of the interval, Eoin Begley impressed with polkas and reels in that effortless almost throwaway style – I know the key, not the name.
Shaun Davey delivered a Daniel O’Connell inspired tune, A Hymn Of Happy People, and a sad but beautiful meditation on the Lusitania (as Gaeilge). The young daughter of Davey and Connolly joined them onstage for a Glockenspiel tune by O’Beirne and that segued into a wonderful New Orleans tune, Iko Iko (or Talking About Hey Now).
The afternoon just got mellow and magical with Rita soaring on a Joni Mitchell song before the Breton singing on Farewell To Nantes from The Pilgrim. Davey introduced his version of Fill To Me The Parting Glass (from Waking Ned).
I got a dose of the funeral blues from the lines – Wish me one more day to stay, Goodnight and joy to you all. And I thought of Jim Daly and how he would have loved the occasion – That I should rise and you should not.
A standing ovation moved into an encore of pure gold with We Cross The Oceans (for the Special Olympics) and a fun closer of Mamma Mia.
May we never have to say goodbye.
But sadly . . . we do . . .