Mick Hand RIP

Mick Hand RIP

Just seen it reported on “Chiff & Fipple” Flute pages that Dublin flute player Mick Hand has passed away.
Source here - https://www.itma.ie/latest/news/mick-hand
I’ll have more to add to this tomorrow. RIP Mick.

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Re: Mick Hand RIP

Sad news indeed Kenny.

A fabulous flute player and great craic too!
The last time I was with him would have been about ‘04 and we were both playing at Georgetown, Tasmania. Wow, that was brilliant weekend of playing.
He’ll be blowing a few tunes upstairs now.
May he rest in peace

Brian x

Re: Mick Hand RIP

I attended Willie Week in the early 90’s and was struggling with the flute. I enrolled in the flute classes and had the luck of being placed with Mick. He was demonstrating some basic ornaments when he was interrupted by an obnoxious Yank, who blurted “You know, Matt Molloy can cran!” Mick’s quick reply was “ Good on ’im!“. The Yank never returned much to the glee of everyone. I recall that we pooled our meager funds to buy Mick a nice bottle of whiskey the last day of class.

Re: Mick Hand RIP

Ah dear. I think Michael was the first Irish flute player I ran into, back at a folk festival in Sydney in 1970. I was playing whistle in those days, but mostly in the Australian Bush Dance style. Declan Affley ran a wonderful workshop on Irish music, and called on Michael to play a few solo tunes on the flute. Woah, gobsmacked! I remember (and can still play) his versions of the set dance, The Hunt, and an air version of The Strayaway Child.

Having now seen what folk festivals look like, next year I was tapped as the Folk Convener for the Aquarius Arts Festival in Canberra. Three years later found me in England, Ireland and Scotland learning whistle from Mary Bergin, flute from Mick Allen, Irish music from Breandan Breathnach, flute history from Philip Bate and Anthony Baines, flute maintenance from Paul Davis, visiting Boosey & Hawkes and the Dolmetsch factories and playing at the Favourite and the Sugawn Kitchen in London and in pubs in Ireland. Next year, I’m starting to make simple flutes. Sheesh, we lived life in the fast lane back then! That Michael Hand has a lot to answer for….

Michael revisited Australia maybe 15 years ago, and came out to our place in Canberra for a catch up and a few tunes. It was nice. I’ll settle down and play The Strayaway Child in his memory….

Re: Mick Hand RIP

Sad to hear this.
The first time I was in Ireland I visited Ireland I went to the fleadh ceol in Sligo and one night after the pubs had closed and I was on my way back to my tent I stopped to listen to some flute players playing out in the street. Mick Hand was one of them. This inspired me to take up the Irish flute.
Some years later I did a flute class for him in Miltown Malbay. Very inspiring and useful.
May his memory live on for long!

Re: Mick Hand RIP

Not meaning to be insensitive re. The subject of the post (RIP) but:

“ I was playing whistle in those days, but mostly in the Australian Bush Dance style.“

Sounds intriguing… do you have any links, I’ve never heard from of this style?

Re: Mick Hand RIP

I went confidently onto the web, belayatron, thinking I could easily find some bush-band style whistle. But came up short. I haven’t played in that style since the early seventies, so I wouldn’t venture to record a sample! It would be a gross libel to both me and the music. I see people playing that music at folk festivals, so I know it’s still a thing. Perhaps someone else can direct us to a good example.

It’s probably fair to say that the fiddle, accordion and concertina were the more common instruments in early colonial times in Australia, so flute and whistle probably date back to the early folk revival era, rather than much earlier.

I am aware that in a museum somewhere around Cooma (just north of our Snowy Mountains), there is a galvanised iron fiddle. The story goes that the shearer who made and played it was sick of drunks at dances falling on his fiddle.

Re: Mick Hand RIP

I’ll reiterate that Mick Hand was very well regarded by Irish musicians in Australia over the years. He was a bit of a legend over here, and will be sadly missed.

re Aussie bush-band style whistle playing - it’s a fairly unadorned style. Bob Ballentine RIP was a fixture at NFF bush music sessions. You can hear him play an old waltz at https://youtu.be/AtNcsFNxHYM


Heather Clarke has found old colonial NSW court records mentioning misbehaving convicts playing whistles or flutes, besides the fiddles etc. Sometimes the songs and tunes being played by the offenders at the time were given. Check out http://www.colonialdance.com.au

Re: Mick Hand RIP

Ah, thanks for that Bob Ballentine link, Smiley, and I’d agree with your analysis “unadorned”.

And yes, I’m sure the occasional whistle or flute would have shown up here in the early days, but I haven’t seen evidence of lasting impact. Possibly through not knowing where to look!

Interesting that you sent us to Heather Clarke’s Colonial Dance site. I recently refurbished an old English flageolet that is currently in Heather’s travelling exhibition. The English flageolet is a chromatic version of the whistle - essentially a 6-key conical piccolo body with a tuning slide and whistle style head. Plus an additional wind cap to go over the head, and an ivory or bone beak at the top to blow in to. The beaks on these are always missing and so I had to fashion one out of a modern “synthetic ivory” polymer.

Re: Mick Hand RIP

On my second visit to the Willie Clancy School, I was placed in a class with the 2 Dublin Micks, Mick Hand and Mick Gavin. I went to several flute classes in Miltown throughout the 1980s, and with no disrespect to the other tutors whose classes I attended, I would say on reflection, that that was the best year for me, certainly the most enjoyable. Two excellent players, and good teachers too, generous with their music, knowledge, and experience, and also wit. Here were two players who took their music seriously, but without worshipping it - fun, and the “craic” was always part of the equation. I would still have tape recordings from those classes, and if they are of good enough quality, I will try to upload a few recordings on Youtube. I did have the pleasure of hearing Mick Hand on several subsequent occasions in Miltown, I even heard him sing a song in Friel’s one afternoon. The last time I saw and heard him was when they arranged a tribute concert for him in Miltown, I think in 2016, with a star-studded cast playing tribute to a fine, much loved musician. Peter Laban has posted several photos from this occasion in a similar discussion on the “Chiff & Fipple” website.
It’s very sad to think we won’t see Mick again, and Irish music has lost yet another great champion.
RIP, Mick, and thanks for your music.
As an aside, the name Heather Clarke has appeared above. Does she play uilleann pipes ? I do remember a young girl - maybe around 10 years old - playing pipes in Friel’s at a session in the early 1980s. This was so unusual that someone asked who she was, and I’m sure that the name of Heather Clarke was the reply. I would like to think that some 40 years later, she is still playing.

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Re: Mick Hand RIP

Aha, the Travellers, Kenny. Just pulled my copy out of the LP cupboard. Sean Gilroy, fiddle (oops, the record notes give it as violin!), Mullingar; Flute and Whistle, Michael Hand (Dublin); and Tommy Joyce, (Galway) piano. The Irish Musician’s Club of Sydney, formed 1967 under the auspices of CCE, sponsored the recording. Can’t find an actual recording date but “circa 1970” puts it in the same year as I ran into Michael in Sydney, so pretty plausible.

Re: Mick Hand RIP

“As an aside, the name Heather Clarke has appeared above. Does she play uilleann pipes ? I do remember a young girl - maybe around 10 years old - playing pipes in Friel’s at a session in the early 1980s.”

Heather Clarke - “New Approach To Uilleann Piping” rings a bell.

Interview with Brian Howard:
“Heather Clarke is amazing, when you think that she was only sixteen when she wrote her tutor for the pipes”.

(Source: https://www.folkmusic.net/htmfiles/inart432.htm )

Re: Mick Hand RIP

The piper Heather Clarke is a different person to the Dr Heather Blaisdale Clarke researching Australian convict dance etc.

I doubt Mick Hand ever met the Aussie Heather 😀