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As We Met charts Miltown’s traditional music history

BRÍD Talty’s insightful and thought-provoking book, As We Met, trawls through the history of Miltown Malbay from 1880-1980. The recently published book places an emphasis on the history of cultural activists involved in the development of traditional Irish music initiatives down through the years.
It recounts events in the lives of many local musicians and depicts the evolution of the various organisations, set up to maintain and revive Irish culture down through the years.

“This evolution is set in the social context of Ireland at the time and shows the incredible foresight which these people had. The book was launched on the 30th anniversary of the death of Martin Talty [Bríd’s father], whose life story has been used as a vehicle in the book to introduce events in the Miltown Malbay area and individual people,” Bríd explained.

The author believes some people in the area have not received due recognition for their respective roles in the traditional music scene.

“For a number of years now, members of the community in Miltown Malbay have been concerned that the people involved with traditional music have been forgotten and their contribution never mentioned.

“People such as Martin Talty, Paddy Malone, Paddy Joe McMahon, Jimmy Ward, JC Talty, Martin (Junior) Crehan and Micheal O’Friel form Miltown Malbay, Seán Reid from Ennis and Peter O’ Loughlin from Connolly were very active in the formation of Comhaltas in Clare and the formation of Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy,” Bríd pointed out.

“The involvement of some in the Conradh na Gaeilge, Oireachtas competitions and in the early years of The Pipers Club in Dublin was also significant. The initiatives which these people set in place have contributed immensely to the international reputation of Miltown Malbay and Clare as a place of note for traditional music.

“This reputation was well established for Miltown Malbay prior to the Willie Clancy Summer School and indeed helped its success enormously.

“The contributions of these individuals is recounted in the book within the social context of an emerging nation, finding its way in uncharted waters. For the younger generation of musicians in Clare and in the locality, it also links the culture in which the former musicians were raised, with music as a living part of daily life, to the threat of extinction of our cultural heritage, which was brought about, ironically, during the early years of our state being formed,” she added.

Martin Talty had intended writing his memoirs but didn’t get around to it.

“He always intended writing a book, but unfortunately, procrastination and terminal illness prevented this. About a year ago, I discovered a large storage box of documents and photographs in the attic while doing attic insulation.

“I felt that this would be the opportune time to produce the book utilising much of his material. Many of the neighbours, family and friends of the aforementioned people contributed anecdotes and stories for the book also.

“I am specially indebted to Patrick O’Connor, who spent much of his time as a young man with Martin Talty and Willie Clancy, for his stories,” Bríd acknowledged.
In recent weeks, Bríd has received some very positive feedback on the publication. Ninety-year-old Mullagh resident Catherine Talty was particularly effusive.

“I wanted to tell you directly how moved I was when I read your book,” Catherine told the author. “I could identify with so much in the book from my own life experience. The description of West Clare at the time is exactly as it was. It is true that the people’s involvement in music did give light to their souls during a very difficult economic period of time,” Catherine noted.

Dan Whorrall in Texas also contacted Bríd having read the book.

“I received your book, As We Met, last week and have read it cover to cover. There is really not a lot out there that covers the musicians of West Clare and their social setting so it was a joy to read it. My grandfather was from nearby [Ballymakea, Mullagh], and his brother Michael Doyle was a concertina player, who was known to Willie Clancy and your father. I play a bit of concertina myself, here in Texas, and have written a bit on its history,” Dan explained.

As We Met is for sale through Amazon, at www.aswemet.com and at Jone’s Centra, Miltown Malbay and Ennis Bookshop.

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