Church Street, Listowel, July 2019 with Fitzpatrick’s new bay window in place.
Pictures from July Horse Fair 2019
Peggy Sweeney by Mattie Lennon
Continued from yesterday
… Peggy has also judged competitions. That is not her favorite exercise either but her advice to young singers is: “Enjoy what you’re doing, I like to see a child – or an adult – enjoying their song”.
She tells beginners to pick a simple song and work up from there. She believes that a child competitor should always be put at ease and not pressurized into competing, by anybody.
Although she grew up among a lot of famous people (Bryan McMahon, et alia) from Listowel and the surrounding area, she says that she didn’t see them as famous; she knew them all so well.
Talk of John B. Keane brings her to her other great love, amateur drama. She says,”I love being somebody else for a couple of hours”.
I didn’t have the neck to quote David Mamet for a second time. And anyway I can’t vouch for the validity of his claim that ” … .the person onstage is YOU. It is not a construct you are free to amend or mold. It’s you. It is YOUR character which you take onstage”.
The great thespians of the world might not agree with Peggy’s claim that to do one of John B’s plays you have to be from Kerry. “The only accent that would lend itself to one of his plays would be the Kerry accent”.
She sang for Presidents … but her fondest memory is of the night she performed in the National Concert Hall with the late Eamon Kelly. She says; “I was nervous but Eamon was twice as nervous”.
She made her first album ” The Songs of Sean McCarthy” in January 1991, just two months after Sean McCarthy had called her to his deathbed and requested that she record his works. This was followed by “The Cliffs of Dooneen”, “The Turning of the Tide” and “More songs of Sean McCarthy”. “The Songs of Sean McCarthy” was released on video in August 1999.
(Of course any Kerryman will tell you that there are only two Kingdoms: the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Kerry).
“One is not of this world and the other is out of this world”
Well, now there are three. “A Kingdom of Song” is the title of Peggy Sweeney’s new album of Kerry songs. As. The sleeve of “A Kingdom of Song” appropriately shows a map of Kerry. The 15 songs take you on a musical trip from Duagh to Dingle and from Tarbert to Rathmore.
“The Valley of Knockanure” (that all too familiar story of young Irishmen shot by the Black-and-Tans) has been recorded by many artists. But when I heard this version I couldn’t help thinking that the song was just waiting for Peggy Sweeney to sing it.
Mick McConnell’s “The Tinkerman’s Daughter” and “Brosna Town”, two very moving songs have taken on a new lease of life.
“The Hills of Kerry”, “Lovely Banna Shore” and the Jimmy McCarthy composition, “As I Leave Behind Neidin” are the stuff to moisten the eyes of an exile.
“Ballyseedy Cross” and “Lonely Banna Strand” tell further tales of men who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom.
It features a refreshing rendition of a song that I hadn’t heard for decades; “The Young Youth Who strayed From Milltown” as well as “The Wild Colonial Boy” and “Killarney and You”.
That old favourite, the universal anthem of Kerry, “The Rose of Tralee”, “Lovely Banna Shore” written by Peter Kelly and the Stack brothers, John and Pat and “The Wild Flower of Laune” written by Myles Coffey and Peter Joy are all given suitable treatment by the woman that this reviewer calls “The Voice of Kerry”.
And there is of course that tribute to her own native town land, mentioned earlier, “Rathea in County Kerry”
I’m sure almost everyone in that close-knit community around Rathea would agree with the letter, which Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun sent to the Marquis of Montrose et al:
“…….if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation”.
Maybe you can’t make the laws of a nation…..or even write a ballad but you can enjoy the best recording of 15 Kerry songs that you are likely to hear.
Kerry, A Kingdom Of Song is now available on Cassette and CD from. It will also be available early next year on Video with the breathtaking scenery of Kerry added to the singing of these wonderful songs.
The perfect diction and beautiful voice moistened many an exiles eyes during her several tours of Britain, as Bean-a-Ti, with The Irish Rambling House Concert group. She agrees with Charlie Landsborough that the ability to give a spititual message through songs is “a Blessing from above”.
When her old school friend, Kay Forristal, brought out her book of poems New Beginnings Peggy wrote the Foreword.
“Spirituality is free flowing and ever changing. This aptly describes the connecting relationship between Kathleen and I. We have known one another since childhood yet, neither time or distance has failed to quench this unseen dimension of our lives.
“Our spirits have been inextricably linked through the medium of verse and song. Through this thought-provoking book, we celebrate decades of true friendship and inherent spirituality”.
What (more) could I say about Peggy?
© 2002, printed with permission.
Today’s Fun Fact
How does a shark track you?
Sharks have the most astonishing sense of smell. They can detect blood at a concentration of 1 part in 25 million, i.e. one single drop of blood in a 2,000 gallon tank of water. If you are bleeding, no matter how slightly, a shark will know. Sharks are brilliant swimmers and they swim at speeds of 25 mph so a shark who smells your blood from 400 metres away can be on you in sixty seconds.
Sharks also have excellent hearing and sight.
In case I’ve frightened the bejesus out of you, the book also has this interesting fact. Research from all US coastal states, averaged over the last 50 years, show that you are 76 times more likely to be killed by a bolt of lightening then by a shark.
Something to Look Forward to
Snapped on Bridge Road
On an early morning walk with my canine house guest I met John Bunyan, Martin Chute and Carmel Moloney taking a coffee break.
Fancy a Walk, this Weekend?