Exploring uncharted territory

Going Out

SOUNDS OF OUR FORBEARS Dan Delaney, who will give a talk entitled ‘Lost Music of the Midlands’ in Westport this evening, with tuneful accompaniment.  Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Westport musican to share the story of a recently discovered manuscript of tunes from long ago, and the music it contains

Well-known Westport musician Dan Delaney is to give a melody-peppered talk tonight (Tuesday) in Westport Town Hall Theatre on a recently discovered manuscript of traditional music. The talk is one of the ongoing series of public talks organised by Westport Civic Trust.
The manuscript itself is a large handwritten collection of tunes from the Laois/north Kilkenny border area. It lay hidden in an attic for more than a century and can be dated to the post-famine years of the 1850s and ’60s. The manuscript’s antiquity, along with its place of origin, makes the discovery very significant in the world of Irish traditional music.
A number of these tunes, which would have been played in local houses, at house dances and local halls, were unknown or have been forgotten. Finding this collection in a midland county without a notable musical tradition is unusual. In many ways, it opens  uncharted territory. Some of the tunes obviously travelled along fair-day trails, or with itinerant musicians from the west or the north. Some from the area that have been long lost until now.
Dan Delaney is a descendant of the people who wrote out these tunes. He will tell the story of finding this valuable treasure, researching the music and how it was recorded and written down by his grand aunt, Eliza Delany and her siblings nearly two centuries ago.
Dan has written a book telling that story, and together with the music, it will be published in the new year. What does the manuscript tell us about life in the midlands of Ireland in the 1850s?
Dan, who has been living locally and playing music around Westport for a number of years, will be joined on the night by other musicians, so the audience can look forward to hearing the music from those days of long ago as well as being given a special insight into its discovery.

Westpot Townhall Theatre, Tuesday, December 13, 8pm. Book via Townhall Box Office on 098 28459 or at www.westporttheatre.com.