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Commins Calling - Feb 7, 2007

People and Places
Dominick Morley shares the award with Brendan Mulvey
BACK HOME Dominick Morley shares the award with Brendan Mulvey after arriving back in Ballyhaunis from the dinner dance in Coventry.

Dominick’s honour in Coventry

Michael Commins

A MAYO man has been honoured with an award by the Coventry Mayo Association for his work with a major project last summer.
Dominick Morley, a native of Ranahard, Brickens, and who now lives in Ballyhaunis, was the joint recipient of the Jim Walsh Award. His fellow winner was Brendan Mulvey, a native of Leitrim who returned to live in Colga, Sligo in recent years after spending 38 years in the Birmingham region. Brendan hosts a popular weekly Saturday afternoon radio show on the Mid West Radio internet service.
The award is named after Jim Walsh, who was a native of the Westport area who died some years ago. He was a Labour Party councillor in the Coventry region. Jim was Deputy Lord Mayor when he took ill and died suddenly, some months prior to assuming the role of Lord Mayor of the city. The Jim Walsh Plaque is now presented on an annual basis and the recipients are people who have made a special contribution to the Association during the year.
Dominick Morley and Brendan Mulvey played a central role in bringing a group of around 50 elderly people to Mayo for a week-long holiday last summer. Over the past decade or so, the Coventry Mayo Association has organised annual visits each summer for elderly Irish emigrants and friends. They had always travelled by ferry and coach up until the last trip.
After Dominick Morley and Brendan Mulvey met in Hotel Westport on a previous occasion when a group were over from Coventry, and since both had connections with the English Midlands, they decided it would be a good idea to try and raise funds to enable the group of elderly people to fly from Birmingham to Knock.
Over the next few months, they succeeded in raising the necessary €8,500, mainly in the general Ballyhaunis area, to fund the venture. It turned out to be a resounding success for all involved with the Coventry Mayo Association and friends. They were also very grateful to Tom Cawley who lent great support and assistance to a major fund-raiser in Leonard’s Pub in Lahardane where Tommy Marren from Mid West Radio served as auctioneer for the night.
It was an emotional night for Dominick in the Leofric Hotel in Coventry as he stepped forward to accept the award at the annual dinner dance of the Coventry Mayo Association. Many in the gathering were mindful of what he had been through back in November when his son Aaron, his nephew Pat Morley and their friend Jonathan Donovan died in a horrific road accident just outside Ballinrobe.
“It came as a complete surprise to me on the night,” Dominick said of the award. “They invited us over to the dinner dance. Brendan Mulvey was unable to make it over on this occasion. It was the last thing I expected when I was called up to receive the award. It was a very special honour for us and we once again would like to thank the people of Ballyhaunis, Tom Cawley in Lahardane and everyone who helped out in any way.
“I also met the Lord Mayor of Coventry and he was such a lovely gentleman. It was nice to know that our efforts were so much appreciated by the Coventry Mayo Association and to meet so many of the members during the dinner dance,” concluded Dominick who was accompanied by his partner, Patricia Dermody.
The master of ceremonies for the night was Eddie Owens. Mick Duffy and Frank Baynes provided the entertainment for the guests as they arrived at the hotel. Mayo folk from Birmingham, Manchester and Luton were also in Coventry to lend their support. Music for dancing was provided by the excellent PJ Murrihy and Seamus Shannon, who went down a real treat on the night.

New album from Michael and Philomena

CLARE duo Michael O’Brien and Philomena McGovern have just released a new album, one which looks set to greatly improve their profile around the country. The 16-track album entitled The Best of Country and Irish will be welcomed by their many friends throughout the country. Over 600 people attended the launch night for the album in the Auburn Lodge Hotel in Ennis last Tuesday night.
Michael is a psychiatric nurse in Ennis who has kept both his professional career and music career going side by side. However, he will officially retire from the nursing profession in March. He first came to national attention during the 1980s when The Veil of White Lace became a huge hit for him on the country circuit. Some time later, he launched his own band and, for a number of years, Michael enjoyed widespread popularity on the dance circuit. A specially commissioned television documentary on him was screened on RTE.
Philomena McGovern hails from Cavan and fronted her own band in that region for some years. Country music was always popular in her family home and her sister Maureen has also recorded some country albums.
Somewhere along the way, Philomena met Michael O’Brien and romance took its own course. They were married in recent years and now reside in Ennis. A feature of their work in the last few years has been the amount of overseas work they have undertaken with the expansion of the holiday market. They are regulars on Gerry Flynn’s Enjoy Travel trips to Ibiza, Portugal and Spain and have also entertained on the Caribbean and Mediterranean cruises. It’s a new wing of the Irish entertainment business that could scarcely have been envisaged a decade ago.
The new album features many old favourites such as My Heart Skips a Beat, Shores of America, Five Thousand Miles From Sligo, Under Your Spell Again, Sweet County Clare, The Old Rugged Cross, Happy Street and Whispering Hope. There is also an Isla Grant medley and other songs which are popular in their stage repertoire.
Michael and Philomena were in Ballyhaunis two weeks ago when they hosted the Guest Suite on Mid West Radio. And they tell us they are looking forward to performing on a much more regular basis in this part of the country in the year ahead. Meanwhile, trips to the Caribbean and Ibiza lie ahead in the coming weeks. Not a bad time at all to be country stars!

PJ and Seamus head for Knock

THE Holy Ground beckons for PJ Murrihy and Seamus Shannon!
The much in demand duo are playing a special show in the Belmont Hotel in Knock on Friday night, February 9 and many in the region (especially Mary Flatley and friends!) are looking forward to their visit.
Seamus and PJ are exceptionally busy on the music circuit and play shows all over the country. They are also in great demand for the overseas music holiday promotions and will be heading to the Fleadh Ibiza for two weeks in the middle of April. They also feature on the Mediterranean and Caribbean cruises as well as trips to Portugal and Spain.
PJ has enjoyed a lot of success with his album, There’s Life in the Auld Dog Yet, which was released last summer. Seamus Shannon’s brand new album is due out in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, their visit to the Belmont in Knock should attract a big crowd on this coming Friday night.

Ronnie’s run in Tuam

RONNIE Delany, Ireland’s gold medal winner in the 1,500m at the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956, competed in the All-Ireland Colleges Sports Finals in Tuam Stadium on May 25, 1953.
Mayo News reader Tom Lally in Garrafrauns says that not many people are aware that Ronnie once graced Tuam Stadium with his presence. And the occasion was memorable for another reason too.
“Ronnie won the 880 yards and finished second to Liam Maloney in the 440 yards race. This was the only occasion Ronnie Delany was ever pipped by an Irish runner in a major event,” says Tom.

Copper Plate return to Midfield

THE Copper Plate have become firm favourites with céilí dancers around the country in recent months. Eamon Donnelly and the lads from Tyrone return by popular demand to the regular Monday night céilí dance in Julian’s of Midfield next Monday night, February 12. No doubt, Ben Cassidy and friends from the Blacklion area on the Cavan-Fermanagh border will be down for the night!
Meanwhile, Mickey Kelly and friends are finalising plans for a major set dancing workshop weekend which will be held in Hotel Newport on March 9, 10 and 11. The event is expected to attract aficionados from many parts of the country and it should be a very enjoyable weekend in Newport.

AROUND AND ABOUT

Carmel heads for Australia
CARMEL Donnelly from Ballyheane has bade farewell to her native Mayo and will spend the next year in Australia. For the past ten years, Carmel was a popular member of the staff at Wynne’s Newsagents at Main Street, Castlebar and her friendly and gracious manner endeared her to one and all.
We wish Carmel, who is daughter of well-known photographer Michael Donnelly and his wife Eileen, all the best as she settles into life in Australia over the coming months.

Barrettstown fundraiser

A COUNTRY and Irish Awards night in aid of Barrettstown Camp for seriously ill children will be held in the Setanta House Hotel, Celbridge, Co Kildare on Monday night, February 26.
The night will feature a sit-down meal, the presentation of the awards, entertainment by the award winners and dancing afterwards.
All the details in relation to the big night in Setanta House can be by contacting Maureen Ward at 087 2480348 or 045 485464, or Carmel Aspell on 086 8942998 or 0599153859.

James goes down country road

ACHILL singer James Kilbane is preparing a country path for 2007. A new 14-track album will herald his decision to travel down the country road when it goes on release in a few months time. But he will not be neglecting the country gospel route either, an area of music which has been very good to him over the past two years.
This week sees the release of a new single, Ticket Home, a track from the forthcoming album. It was written by three Nashville-based songwriters and is a song that relays a message of hope. The new album will be a combination of country standards and some new numbers.
Big Tom getting better
BIG Tom continues to make steady progress following his recent health scare. The country music legend is back home since before Christmas and has been busy meeting friends and taking long strolls.
“Tom is in good form and was away in Dundalk driving today. He’s fairly getting out and about again. Every day, he is walking around two miles. That’s something he hasn’t done for years!,” said his wife Rose.
And showing a real hint for a return to the bandstand, Big Tom was looking through a batch of news songs last week with a view to going into the studio and putting down some tracks over the next few weeks.

Babs says hello

THREE weeks ago, we featured a nice article by Babs Sykes in Boston, formerly Babs Devaney from Gorthaganny, Co Roscommon, in relation to her vacation in her home region last summer. Babs went along to some set dancing classes organised by Mildred Beirne from Loughglynn and had a whale of a time learning the Caledonia and others.
We had a nice email from Babs during the week saying she was delighted with the reaction to the piece and is already looking forward to her next visit ‘home’. And she adds: “Great news about flyglobespan’s proposed flights from Boston to Knock. Very handy for this ‘returned Yank.”
Babs has worked at the Boston Globe for 20 years, mostly in advertising sales, but has also freelanced for years. Good to have her as a new reader of The Mayo News … and perhaps as an occasional contributor as well!

Glór Tire returns to TG4

GLÓR Tire, the popular country music series, makes a welcome return to TG4 this Wednesday night, February 7 at 10.30pm. The new series was recorded live at The Quays, Galway two weeks ago and Gael Media, who are co-ordinating the series, are delighted with the quality of the new show.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with the show, it really is looking very well. We expect it will go down a real treat with country music followers,” says Maria Griffin from Gael Media.
The first show goes out this Wednesday night (there’s a repeat each week on Saturday night at 9.20pm). It will feature the nine contestants who are performing with the ‘house band’ in front of the three judges: Shay Healy, Caitríona Ní Shuilleabháin and John Creedon. Over the next few weeks, the shows will also feature Brendan Shine, Mike Denver, Hugo Duncan, Mick Flavin, Robert Mizzell, Susan McCann, TR Dallas, Shawn Cuddy and Marc Roberts.

Richard passes away
THE death took place in recent days of Richard Fitzgerald from Bundoran. Richie fronted a popular céilí band in years gone by and they played dances all over Ireland. He was also featured on a regular basis on the old Waltons programme on Radio Eireann which was hosted by Leo Maguire.

Foster and Allen drummer dies
FRANK Somers, the drummer with the Foster and Allen Band for 12 years, died last week following a short illness. A native of Athlone, Frank had lived in Mount Temple near Moate since the 1980s.
“Frank was a real gentleman,” said Tony Allen. “He was a brilliant drummer and we had the height of respect for him. He dressed impeccably and was a great man for time. He came from the old school and we will miss him greatly.”