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Mark Davies

Mary Ellen Curtin RIP

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I have just been informed by Shay Fogarty of Dublin that Mary Ellen Curtin the fine North Clare concertina player has passed away.She played her last tune on concertina at the nursing home where she lived near Liscannor with Joe Rynne(fiddle)Shay Fogarty(concertina)and myself(concertina)during the week of the Willie Clancy Summer School.Her son and other family members were present and it gave them much joy.She was 89 years old.

May she rest in peace

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There's a DVD that was done as a project by students of Scoil; Mhuire in Ennistymon. They were sent out to talk to older people an get some of their experiences. One of the girls from Miltown, Catriona Killeen, went out to Mary Ellen, played tunes with her and talked about the house dances and all those things. lovely to see if you can get your hands on it.

 

 

Mary Ellen was from this area originally. Kitty Hayes used to tell me about her, Mary Ellen was a few years older than Kitty and when both were in their teens had the better concertina. From the stories you could sense a rivalry that existed at the time. Anyhow, when Kitty came back to the concertina and got known for her playing Mary Ellen became interested again and her children bought her a concertina for her eightiest birthday. She phoned Kitty and they played for eachother over the phone. 'She can't make a fist of it now' Kitty said. They met up several times after that and Mary Ellen put in the work and got going well quickly. On one memorable occasion they both played together at the funeral of a fellow concertinaplayer and friend fro mthe time of the house dances, Joe McCaw, who had asked them to play when the time came.

 

They were mad for music and got great joy from it.

Edited by Peter Laban

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Mary Ellen's grandson is married to my daughter . I played a few tunes for her on the concertina in the Nursing Home about three weeks ago. She played a few notes of The Stack of Barley with me and then asked me to play her concertina. She remembered playing at house dances with my late father.Go luí an cré go héadrom ort Mary Ellen agus leaba i measc na naomh go raibh agat. Funeral arrangements : Reposing at Linnane's Funeral Home Ennistymon 6pm to 8 pm Thursday July 21st . Removal at 8pm to Holy Rosary Church Doolin. Funeral Mass on Friday July 22nd at 11am. Joe O'Connor

Edited by reachtaire

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I was listening to Mary Ellen playing only yesterday on a compilation CD.

 

Last year I went with Shay and Mark when they visited Mary Ellen and we had some tunes together. She was a conscientious hostess and looked after us royally. In fact, Shay said it was important to announce your visit only half an hour before you arrived as otherwise she would start baking and making special arrangements.

 

One of the things we discussed in Miltown this year was the difference between the old style of playing and the more technically complicated approach favoured by many younger players - and teachers. It was a great pleasure, in fact a privilege, on that afternoon last year to spend some time with one of the old stylists.

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Sad news indeed, but she certainly had a long innings.

 

I'm especially sorry now, that I had to miss a trip to Miltown this year.

 

Playing styles are certainly changing & it is of course impossible to hold back time & stifle the natural development of a living tradition, but as well as a few players efforts to hold on to those older styles, against the flashy & more popular modern approach, it is reassuring to know that we at least have some recorded evidence of the older players.

 

You can listen to her playing style here:

 

The Kerry reel / The Morning Star / Mary-Ellen Curtin, Concertina

 

 

Cheers

Dick

Edited by Ptarmigan

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I was listening to Mary Ellen playing only yesterday on a compilation CD.

 

Last year I went with Shay and Mark when they visited Mary Ellen and we had some tunes together. She was a conscientious hostess and looked after us royally. In fact, Shay said it was important to announce your visit only half an hour before you arrived as otherwise she would start baking and making special arrangements.

 

One of the things we discussed in Miltown this year was the difference between the old style of playing and the more technically complicated approach favoured by many younger players - and teachers. It was a great pleasure, in fact a privilege, on that afternoon last year to spend some time with one of the old stylists.

 

I am happy to say that I was there, too, that afternoon. It was indeed a privilege - here are the photos from the occasion:

 

/Henrik

post-448-0-21762700-1311176270_thumb.jpg

post-448-0-47831100-1311176280_thumb.jpg

post-448-0-60123000-1311176328_thumb.jpg

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I forgot that you can get a glimpse of Mary Ellen, in grand style, in the compilation of short clips I did at Éigse Mrs. Crotty 2008:

 

Go to time 2:16 in

clip

 

Anyone who wants the full clip - as audio only - feel free to contact me.

 

/Henrik

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I forgot that you can get a glimpse of Mary Ellen, in grand style, in the compilation of short clips I did at Éigse Mrs. Crotty 2008:

 

Go to time 2:16 in

clip

 

/Henrik

 

WOW! 86 & yet she still had lovely lift in her playing & her tasty style still shone through.

I notice that she was also still well able to mix it with the massed Concertinas at around 5 mins too.

There's hope for us all. ;)

I'd just love to think that I will still be able to knock out a few tunes, without making a real hames of myself, in a quarter of a century.

Cheers,

Dick

Edited by Ptarmigan

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