jim webI have played the Melodeon since I was about six or seven learning my first traditional tunes from my grandmother. She was from the South of Wexford and lived for music and the craic that usually  go with it.

She lived with us in Fingal at various times and it gave me a great opportunity to get some of her tunes. My mother and father both loved music and we were lucky to be exposed to it on the radio any chance there was ..you know ceili house and all the other programmes of the day.But it was when granny gave a hohner melodeon to johnny and myself that we started to be really interested. Granny would sit there with a battered old Hohner and very patiently teach us the tune by playing it, bar by bar, over and over.

We learned all our tunes by ear and still do.She played the old press draw way and so all the tunes I learned from her were in the key of D and A regardless of the popular key for the tune. At the time it did not matter too much because I played at home only. My father played the harmonica, and the accordion. ..


My box at the moment is a two row melodeon by Saltarelle I have it about 23 years now. .
My playing style is in the old push draw system, one which i find very beneficial especially playing for dancers which i have for many years.
The now more common system, of playing today, the bc system doesn't hold the same  interest for me.
 I have never been part of any musical organisation, I don't see the need for competition or standardisation in music . All this and been self taught has  made my music original to me  and  a bit different in structure.

As part of the Hermit collective I am joined by musical friends from over the years ,mostly playing around Gurteen in South Sligo.

Monica Mc Carrick,  on the Banjo
Gregory Daly , Flute player 
Helen Grehan, singer and guitar
Roger Stevens,  Bodhran
Possibly many more as the event goes on..

For many years our usual session was  in Ted's Roisin Dubh  where the music had lived for over 40 years, a special place indeed.

For me music  is all about people, those who play it and those who listen, those who can  bring out the music's beauty through  the old style sean nos dance form.  
The ones who listen and let the songs and music take them to magical places. 
What a great gift to be able to meet old friends or strangers, have a chat, play a few tunes, have the craic.
 Life is good

New compositions ....why?

Because I believe Traditional music to be  part of everyday life, why stick completely with the old tunes. Surely these fine old tunes were inspired by events of their day also. Anyway, every now and again I compose some tunes, most of these suit the melodeon but can be  played on any instrument.

 go here for my compositions page



Yes nothing like a few sets to liven up the night we are lucky in Ballyboughal to have a good strong class of set dancers who join us for the session on Thursday nights .....thanks to Hillery and Shay it takes a lot of work to keep it going



                                                                          Just what is a session

Well a session occurs when a few musicians meet up (either planned or otherwise). Most of the time this seems to happen in pubs of all places, much to the benefit of the publican,but thats another story. In short, sessions can erupt at anytime and at any place. The musical content is never rehearsed, although, most weekly sessions would have a core group who keep things moving along by playing fairly well known sets of tunes. Interspersed every now and again by the odd song, sean nos dance or recital. Some times individual musicians will play a solo piece. This may consist of mayby three tunes, each played say three times around . The first of these tunes may be a new addition to the session and the solo performance will give other musicians a chance to learn it. The second and third tunes may be more familiar to all and so everyone can join in. The informal session can be a very good place to learn tunes as they are played in the area, not quite the same as learning from a book, which may have completely different settings.

Fear an ti.

Some sessions may have a person who controls what can be an unruly mob of both musicians and listeners, and would be known, among other things, as fear an Ti..... only joking .......

Some sessions will have the core group who will coax various people to sing or whatever. This is normally done in a very light hearted manner so as not to cause any embarrasment to anybody. Some traditional people tend to be very sensitive,and sometimes a word or two said in fun can lead to all sorts of trouble with disasterous consequenses for the session and indeed the relationships between the musicians themselves.

Check out the cloontia page here where there was many a session....

For information on Aniar traditional group heres the place