FRIENDS and admirers of the late legendary Tipperary singer, Nora Butler, recalled the mark she left on East Clare, over her many years attending and performing at local musical events.
Feakle’s Paula Carroll, presenter of The West Wind on Clare FM, recently remembered the Toomevara native, who passed away on May 3, with tributes coming from Gerry Shortt of Shortt’s Bar and Ballina-based singer Deirdre Scanlon.
Nora was a frequent visitor to venues across Clare, through her work for Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann (CCE), as performer and adjudicator. She was particularly loved in the East of the county where she was a regular and popular guest, along with her late husband, Pat Swan, at gatherings in Spancihill, Tulla and Feakle.
On The West Wind, Paula Carroll described Nora as “a gorgeous woman and a really sweet singer”. “My own encounters with Nora in recent years were mostly in Gerry Shortt’s Bar in Feakle,” she noted, “where she was a much loved visitor. There have been great nights of singing and music with Nora at the centre of it.”
In an audio tribute sent into the programme, Gerry Shortt said Nora had been “a character and an absolutely tremendous friend,” and a regular at his long-running Thursday night sessions. “I used to love to see herself and Pat coming,” he said. “They used to often come from the hospital when Pat was on dialysis. They used to come in late and, my God, did they always add a bit of character to the session. They’d do their duet, ‘Davy the Drover’, [it was] synonymous with the two of them. No matter how many times you’d hear it, you’d love it.”
Gerry also recalled Nora’s role as Bean a’ Tí for the annual Trad for Trócaire fund-raisers: “She was so inclusive then. She’d try to get everyone to say a poem or sing a song, under no pressure, but she’d ask them to do it if they wanted to. She’d try and include everybody. She was so full of life.”
Acclaimed traditional singer, Deirdre Scanlon also contributed an audio tribute to The West Wind, describing her county woman as a friend and an inspiration. “Nora was wonderful,” she said. “No matter what age a person [was], she would listen and encourage and suggest songs”.
Nora Butler was an All-Ireland champion singer and had been involved with Comhaltas for more than half a century. She toured extensively, visiting the US, as well as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and China. She also received gradams from the Fleadh Nua in Ennis in 2015 and from the Chapel Gates Singing Circle in 2019. In 1973, she released an EP The Shores of My Native Land, and in 2001 released an album entitled The Dawning of the Day.
Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald.
Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti.
She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at The University of Galway.
If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at [email protected] or telephone 065 6864146.