Renowned button-accordion player Pat Friel is set to release a new album, ‘Lios-a-Phúca’, this week. The much-anticipated follow-up to ‘The Humours of Westport’ will include reels, jigs, hornpipes and a number of well-known songs, including ‘Moonlight In Mayo’, ‘ These Are My Mountains’. ‘Say You Love Me’ and ‘My Lovely Achill Island Home’, written by Westport musician Lenny Grimes.
Pat was first taught how to play the accordion by his mother, Julia, who came from Letterbrock, eight miles west of Westport. His was a musical family, and four of his five brothers also play the box. Pat played occasionally for house dances, especially after the Stations, when the priest said Mass in the house.
In the showband era of the 1960s, Pat played the bass guitar in a band called the Frielmen, which played pop and country and Western. Twenty years’ ago, he started the local Comhaltas group and was three times named Connacht Button-Accordion Champion. He went on to form one of the most successful céilí bands here in the west of Ireland – The Heather Breeze Ceili Band.
Pat’s musical talents have been inherited by his two daughters, who are both musicians and teachers. His daughter, Sandra, plays the piano, piano accordion and concertina, and sometimes playes with Heather Breeze. She also joins a her father on a number of tracks on ‘Lios-a-Phúca’.