Mayo Music and Musings and free travel in Ireland

Walk Down an Irish Lane  By Terry Reilly

(for monthly column Irish American News, Ohio)

A good friend, Joe Byrne from East Mayo, who has a very healthy following for his popular programme on local radio here, has done great work over the years to preserve our music, song, lore and poems.  His latest undertaking, a mammoth one, is the magnificent compilation ‘Mayo Music and Musings Collection’, a set of 6 CDs to mark twenty years on Mid West Radio.

This project is the 12th production in the Dreoilín Community Arts Series and was once again compiled by Joe Byrne who is a musician and singer and presents and produces the weekly arts programme ”Ceol agus Ealaíon” on Tuesday nights from 10.00pm until 1.00am on Mid West Radio.  It is also intended of course as part of the Mid West Radio Twentieth Celebrations and many of the tracks represent a cross-section of some of the material recorded and broadcast by Joe since the station started in 1989. The sound bytes are taken from the four programmes that Joe has been involved in over the past 20 years. (see for details of Joe’s programme which comes to you via the internet overseas).

The beautiful art work on the sleeves and booklet is by the artist Bernie Prendergast of Tooreen, while David Dwane Studios, Ballina, refined and mastered the sound. Since many of the recordings were ‘one man’ efforts out in the field and were done on a variety of low-tech recording machines, the overall sound he achieved through mastery is exceptionally good. The Collection comes complete with a companion booklet in a gift wrapped set. It contains music, songs, poetry, lore, history and readings from contributors and performers from Erris to Shrule and from Ballyhaunis to Ballina.

There is a very wide inclusive variety of material – Traditional Melodeon Music from Alan Morrisroe and Tommy Gallagher of Kilaturley, Swinford; Classical Piano with Maria McGarry, Ballyhaunis; a Christmas Story of 1964 by Colmán O’Raghallaigh of Claremorris; Poems from Iarla Mongey and Peter Jordan of Castlebar; Readings from their Books by Terry Reilly, Ballina, and Tony Jordan of Ballyhaunis; Pipe Bands from Achill and The Carracastle Fife and Drum Band; The Mayo Concert Orchestra and the Kilmovee and Bofield Céilí Bands; Italian musicians at Moyne Abbey, near Ballina, and a Japanese musician in Achadh Mór.Also featured are Sean Nós songs from Erris and Ballads about Knock Airport and David Trimble’s Pimple; Grace Notes Choir from Ballyhaunis and Cór Cheathrú Thaidgh in Erris; History and Lore from Westport and Kiltane, Foxford and Killala, Louisburgh and Loughlynn.

Old and new pieces are aligned side by side, for example ‘The Sanctus of a New Millennium Mass’ by Noel Henry follows ‘Marthain Phádraig,’ the ancient prayer of Saint Patrick spoken by the late Riocárd Bruadair of The Mullet Peninsula. ”Christina” is the title of a newly composed piece of music by Spanish-style guitarist Adrian Leonard of Achadh Mór that is preceded by a poem by Geraldine Mitchell of Louisburgh, and a Bulgarian busker recorded on the streets in Ballyhaunis is featured with some Gypsy Waltzes. Terry Maughan, one of the last practising tinsmiths of the travelling community, talks of his trade and travels and Tony Donoghue of Crossmolina tells of the Loch Conn Music Manuscripts that he managed to rescue from mice in a barn loft.

Laoise Kelly, the world-renowned harper, plays one of the unusual tunes from those precious manuscripts. At the launch, Joe Byrne thanked all the 500 or so artists and performers who are featured on the CD’s. He said he doubted if there was any group or body of people in Ireland that were more generous than musicians, singers, dancers, local historians, writers and artists.    Proceeds from the collection go to the Mayo-Roscommon Hospice Foundation.  The price for the full package set is 25 euro (approx 34 dollars) with 2 euro extra for postage and packaging (within Ireland), and 4 euro (approx 7 dollars) extra to overseas destinations.  The collection gift pack is available in outlets all across Mayo, or from The Mayo Roscommon Website. or directly from Joe Byrne, Achadh Mór, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo (00353 94- 93- 67189.) or by email

Free rail travel in Ireland

I got a huge email response to last month’s article in the Irish American News in Ohio about inducements to spend a vacation in Ireland this year.Readers will recall that I wrote about a free internal travel offer, and also about an idea by philanthropist Chuck Feeney to give every tourist entering the county from the US a 100 dollar voucher. All to boost tourism to this country in the face of a recession that has, naturally, hit the numbers.

The 100-dollar voucher idea appears to be sidelined, for the present at least, but I’m delighted to relate that a free rail scheme, developed by Fáilte Ireland in conjunction with Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail), has been finalised and is now available for over 66s visiting Ireland. The scheme, announced by the Government as part of Budget 2010 last December, is designed to increase overseas visitor numbers to Ireland.

All of which means that overseas visitors aged 66 or over can now reserve free rail travel by accessing to arrange for a Golden Trekker Reservation, which can be used to book their free Golden Trekker Tickets when in Ireland.

Welcoming the initiative, Redmond O’Donoghue, Chairman of Fáilte Ireland, told me: “Extending Ireland’s free rail travel arrangements to our international visitors is a very encouraging and constructive development.  It will help strengthen the appeal of Ireland amongst some visitors and Fáilte Ireland believes it will pay dividends to Irish tourism longer-term.”   “Our experience of working with Iarnród Éireann on putting this scheme in place has been a very positive one and we would like to acknowledge their help and active support in helping to finalise arrangements in time for this year’s tourist season.”

The Golden Trekker Tickets will take the form of a four-day Trekker ticket, or a sequence of four-day tracker tickets depending on the length of stay, providing visitors with unrestricted rail travel for a set period.  Each four-day Trekker ticket is worth €100. The design of the scheme mimics the terms of the free travel scheme available to Irish senior citizens aged 66 and over.  Accordingly, the scheme provides for free travel to all tourists to Ireland aged 66 and over and there is no restriction on nationality or country of residence.

Look out for: next month’s column with exclusive news of the new Monsignor James Horan musical!



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