Friday, 24 June 2011

Burren weaves magic on singer Seán

The Burren, County Clare, IrelandImage via Wikipedia
Galway singer/songwriter Seán Tyrrell has spent the last month touring the country with fellow musicians Ronan Browne and Kevin Glackin to promote their new collaborative CD And So the Story Goes – a selection of songs, jigs and reels. In his newly published book about the Burren, writer and journalist PAUL CLEMENTS interviewed Seán at his home at Dooneen near Bellharbour where he explained how influential the area has been to his musical career.
Born into a musical family in Galway in 1943, Seán Tyrrell’s playing pedigree stretches back to the 1960s when he performed in the Fo’castle Club in the city. He emigrated in 1968 to the US playing professionally and singing in Irish bars in New York and San Francisco on what he calls ‘the corned beef and cabbage circuit’.

In 1976 he returned home and went to live in Kerry before moving to Clare where he was appointed caretaker at the UCG research station at Carron. One day he was walking with a friend at Eagle’s Rock in the heart of the Burren when something about the place spoke to him.
“It was only then that I began to realise what the Burren was all about,” he reflects. “I was ignorant of its importance and the significance of it prior to that as I never visited it as a child. I remember a tangible feeling came over me and I said to myself I have finally found my spiritual homeland. When I lived in the States I had at least four or five different homes but I knew that this was the place – and especially Bellharbour – where I wanted to live.”

Seán looks back on how his poetic-musical life took off. One night he was asked to play in a pub in Lisdoonvarna.

“The barman said he wanted some songs so I was flicking through a book of poems and Bagpipe Music by Louis MacNeice caught my imagination. I found it hilarious and knew immediately this was the song for me. I sat down and quickly produced some of the most amazing lyrics – incredible stuff and unquestionably being in the Burren influenced that. I started to sing poems and realised this was what I was looking for. I didn’t want to do The Wild Rover or Black Velvet Band – they’ve been done to death and have become an abomination but I wanted to find other things.”

The Burren gave Seán the chance to develop a connection between poetry and music which is his passion. The range of poetic voices he has tapped into stretches from the eighteenth-century Clare poet, Brian Merriman and C.D. Shanley through Yeats, MacNeice and Kavanagh up to Seamus Heaney and Paul Durcan. This standing army also includes Michael Hartnett, Mary O’Malley and Rita Ann Higgins.

Like so many creative artists who live in the area, Seán has experienced numerous magical moments.

Burren weaves magic on singer Seán | Galway City Tribune | galwaynews.ie

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