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.