Shaskeen snippets: A new millennia and no signs of slowing down

Traditional music band, Shaskeen, has been a cornerstone of Irish Traditional music and song for over half a century and show no signs of slowing down, ahead of their appearance in the Town Hall Theatre on June 10 as part of Advertiser Events, we look back through various publications that have covered the group's long history.

Last week's Shaskeen Snippets left off at the turn of the 1990s. Now two decades down as a band, Shaskeen, were showing no signs of slowing down. The Ipswich and District Irish Society welcomed the group as the headlining act for the 1990 St Patrick's Day celebration. In the newsletter for the event outlined the bands history, said, "Shaskeen are a lively traditional group from Galway. They play a fire-brand style of Irish Traditional music that would have been found at house dances in the West of Ireland not so long ago. The band comprises Tom Cussen (banjo/mandolin ), Charlie Harris (accordion ), Kevin Rohan (fiddle/vocal ), Mick Fahy (vocal/guitar ), Eamon Cotter (flute ) and Benny O'Connor (drums ). They have recorded eight albums, a selection of these will be on sale tonight."

Such was the success of the St Patrick's Day concert in Ipswich, that the band were invited to return the following year for the 1991 celebrations. In 1993 the group set off on a tour of Scotland, playing for a crowd in the Lochgelly Centre, near Fife, on St Patrick's Day that year. In the leaflet handed out on the night, the organisers of the concert described Shaskeen as entering its third decade playing a style of music that would be "reminiscent of a house back in county Galway before the EEC, TV or more than one car in the village."

"It is said that it is a poor Traditional Irish music collection that does not include a Shaskeen record or tape."

Much like the 1980's, the 1990's were filled with tours for the band, including a tour to play in The Saint Loup Festival, an event focusing on music and dance held in Guingamp, France.

Covering the event, regional newspaper Quest-France (August 15, 1996 ), which covers western France described the events inclusion of Irish Traditional music as an "evening devoted to our cousins in green Éireann", in which Shaskeen was bringing a piece of Ireland to France for the crowd to enjoy.

"With a traditional repertoire the five musicians from the west of Ireland have created an atmosphere of a pub in a public garden. In tasting the Guinness available at the festival, some attendees might believe themselves transported to a tavern in Joyce's homeland."

These trips to France touring and playing would see the members of Shaskeen begin to start teaching lovers of Traditional Irish music through special workshops in Alsace, France. With the five members now adding teaching to an already very busy schedule, the latter half of the 1990s would see them balance full-time jobs, touring and music and now teaching.

The next four years would see Shaskeen tour to cover memorial events in Washington, USA, headlining the 5th 'Irish Music Party of the year' in New York, playing at the Radbühne in Neuf-Brisach, a fortified historic town in Alsace and teaching at the 4th Annual Irish Music and Dance Workshop Weekend in May 1999 in Mollkirch, France and somehow managing to play at the Connecticut Irish Festival, a month later, bringing two Ceílís to the stage each day.

The Millenium finally arrived, capping off three full decades of Shaskeen. One would imagine that the group would have slowed down some, become less driven as the years continued, but in fact, the opposite happened.

Next week will have an interview with Tom Cussen, discussing Shaskeen's 53 years in action ahead of their concert in the Town Hall Theatre on June 10.

Shaskeen with special guests Benny O'Connor and Alan Wallace will perform at The Town Hall Theatre as part of Advertiser Events on Saturday, June 10 at 8pm. Tickets are €25 and can be purchased from The Town Hall Theatre's website ( )

*Correction: In a previous edition of Shaskeen Snippets, one member's name, John Dooley, was omitted in the line-up due to human error. Apologies to John Dooley for the omission.


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