Memories of Roscommon

Memories of Roscommon

I was reared in the the fifties, in the county of Roscommon. Ireland is now a very cosmopolititcal country, with people of all colours talking in alien tongues. That time money was scarce, land had no value, but talk and tea were cheap enough, and there was plenty of rambling, chat and music.

The first musicians I remember were ones who would come to the house once or twice a year, if my Dad had sold a few beasts on fair day, and spent his profit in the pubs of Elphin or Tulsk or Strokestown, and was in the mood for a tune. He would sometimes rouse me from my bed, so I could impress his drunken friends by playing the Rakes of Mallow on my home-made harp, a device constructed from elastic bands of varying length, strung tautly on tacks nailed into an old drawer.
Gerry Brady played comb and paper. Big Sean Curley played spoons and other household percussive tools, such as the fire tongs and the biscuit tin lid. My father played the gobiron, and kept one on top of the dresser, out of reach of childurn. It had stale remnants of food and spit in the corners of the wooden blowholes, and a few of the chambers had the odd slither of tobacco.

I remember blind Brendan Connolly, a great box player, who was an occasional late night visitor. He compensated his lack of vision by making full use of his senses of touch, taste and smell, mostly with my mother. His eyes would follow you round the room, like in a horror fillum, the wild eyes dancing inside their sockets to the rythym of the jig or hornpipe he was playing. Brendan had a very peaceful death at the age of 80, Lord have mercy on him.

Re: Memories of Roscommon

A nice bit of reminiscing, howsshecutting. I think I just about caught the tail-end of the Rare Ould Times. I believe my first visit to Ireland was Belfast 1975 or 6, Dublin 1979 or 80, then Donegal, Galway etc throughout the early eighties, and had visits on a near enough annual basis all the way up till the late 1990’s. Spent time in the households of a fair few musicians, and certainly played manys a pub session, and raced a few races. From what I’ve read recently, the old days seem gone for ever now. Have a look at this old thread of mine:

https://thesession.org/discussions/5175/comments#comment108901

One great bit of Craic we once had was myself, Phil Nolan (fiddle) and Amos Burke(banjo), Amos driving, meandering down after the Sligo Fleadh when we found ourselves in Boyle, Roscommon. "Let’s find Grehan’s Bar!" says Phil, as one of his good mates from London was Tony (McGorry) Grehan, brother of the once-famous Grehan sisters (Christie Moore would always give the Grehan sisters great acknowledgement) So yes, we finds Grehan’s. Run by the octagenarian mother Grehan. She would have no nonsense from any customers. But we had great fun with one of the sisters joining in an impromptu session. Then she did some of her own songs, and the star quality really showed. They offered to put us up in a caravan they had out the back for the night, but we decided to carry on, not wishing to be beholden to them. And yes, I think we next found ourselves in Frenchpark, where we parked the car, caught a few frozen hours of sleep before Amos carried on down to West Limerick and North Kerry.

Re: Memories of Roscommon

Thank you.

Well, the old times are certainly gone if we quit reminiscing about them. Best Wishes!

Re: Memories of Roscommon

Rosscommon is a Co. I very rarely stayed in but I remember a few sessions with Patsy Hanley, Dennis Ryan(Edenderry,Offaly), Jim?McHale(Athlone),Mary Bergin and Johnny McFee (who sadly died in a drowning accident in Kerry).
But in the region, there was a nice Comhaltas group in Lanesborough including Mrs Nolan who sang a beautiful version of Barbara Allen amongst other things.

Re: Memories of Roscommon

Do you play the "Rosscommon Reel", one of Crowley’s nice reels?

Re: Memories of Roscommon

My memories are around the Roscommon Fleadhs of around 20 years ago. A crowd of us eejits would head down in whatever transport we could find for the first fleadh of the year.

Ballinlough, Keadue, Boyle, etc. It was like bears coming out of hibernation!

The music and craic were outstanding and a good player, single, footloose and fancy free was sure to touch.

As a young, hot blooded fluter I really loved those mad Easter fleadhs and still look back on them fondly. I often wonder where the wee lass I courted in a hay field in Ballinlough, with the sun shining down on us is now!!

Re: Memories of Roscommon

My memories of Co. Roscommon center around what my mother told me about the family. Her grandparents were from outside Roscommon and Castlerea. They met and married in Iowa. She was a widow, he a widower. They ended up in St. Louis, Missouri.

I will spare you the genealogy.

My memories begin about 25 years ago when I took my first trip to visit the cousins.
What a blast! One family had relocated to Dublin and were all musicians which made me really happy because I am also. There are other talented musicians and vocalists throughout the rest of the family in Roscommon, too.

They have all been so welcoming. The farms of Roscommon are really fun with the rolling hills in the distance. One family has a fairy ring in back of their house which, I was told that because I was born in America, I could walk on with no consequence, but my cousin would have great consequences being a native Irishman if he walked on the fairy ring. I believe I dared him , and he did, and he is still among the living today.

Every time I go, there is a new experience. There was the time that one of Mom’s cousins put me in the pit with the sheep and made me grab one by the horns. They are wiggily little creatures!

I got to go to the Leinster Final one year. It was very interesting.

Got to hear my cousins play in the pubs one day when it was raining buckets, and I was soaked.

Another cousin told a man at a ceili that I was visiting and to ask me to dance. I was pretty embarrassed.

I’ve walked the park by the Suck (yes, Suck) River. It is quiet and peaceful there.

I’ve waited 2-3 hours at a crossroad by the Shannon with Mom’s cousin so that she could stop a friend in a car and tell her something.

The Church in Castlerea is a beautiful structure. I marvel at it every time I visit. Mass is somewhat the same. Men and older boys standing in the back, and the women sitting inside.

Kids are the same all over the world. They want to do what every other kid wants to do anywhere….have fun with their friends besides playing sports and music.

I stayed in a convent a couple of times (Mom’s cousin is a nun) and got lost in the nooks and crannies one night. However, the food was great and so was the company.

And one of my favorite memories was when Sr. burned her finger and went to the man with "the cure" to help stop the pain. He licked the burned part and it really did stop the pain. It was something. He said anyone could have the cure if they only lick the bottom of a lizard. Haven’t done that one yet!!

I’m going back in ‘06 to create more memories. I love their sense of humor and fun.
mk………………………………..yes, ms, it is me this time!!

Re: Memories of Roscommon

Well i will probably get laughed out of here. But I happen to like the Grehan Sisters!!!!! I love their song "On The Galtymore Mountains". I have not been able to find the Lyrics to it or a complete download. I gave my tape to my sister. I know they are not perfect but they are real and I like that and I love the Dubliners also for the same reason, Becky Garrett