Sean Tyrrell -getting a bus for Mikey and recalling Paul Simon in Galway

THIS SUNDAY at 6pm in Kelly’s Bar, Bridge Street, a host of renowned Galway musicians, including the great folk singer-songwriter Sean Tyrrell, are getting together to play a fundraising concert.

Gerry Carthy, a well known musician in Galway in the late 1970s and 1980s has a seriously handicapped boy called Mikey whose special bus was recently damaged beyond repair in a road accident. Mikey luckily was not in the bus at the time, but he needs a new bus so a group of his Galway musical friends are coming together for this fundraiser.

The top-drawer line up features Johnny Finn, Jackie Small, John Hoban, Johnny Mulhern, Wally Page, and Little John Nee who is MC for the evening. Sean Tyrrell is also the chief organiser of the event.

Speaking by phone from his Clare home, Sean explained how the idea for the gig came about.

“When the van was written off, Gerry only got a fraction of its value from the insurance company,” Tyrrell tells me. “So he had to resort to selling off his instruments to raise the money for a new van. That’s how I first heard about it actually because he emailed me to say he was selling a tenor guitar – I play tenor guitar as does Gerry.

“That’s what spurred me into organising the benefit concert because I hated the idea of a musician like Gerry having to sell his instruments. The performers are all musicians who would have been good friends of Gerry when he lived here in Galway in the seventies and eighties. He’s based in Santa Fe now.”

Tyrrell’s appeal for support quickly met with a great response.

“I emailed everyone I knew and I’ve already received about $8/900 in donations. Gerry had to raise about €30,000 to get the new van and while he has actually got the new van he’s substantially in the red and we want to help clear that debt. We’ve also had lots of support and assistance from The Crane’s Mick Crehan, Kelly’s Bar - who are giving us the venue free of charge, Mattie Hynes, and lots of businesses who have put in great prizes for raffles that we’ll hold on the night.”

Tyrrell reveals that the there is likely to be special appearances from other performers eager to be part of the occasion; “I had an email just a while ago from Terry Smith saying he would like to be part of the evening so there may well be special guests on the night.”

Looking further ahead Tyrrell reveals he is working on a new show which he plans to unveil next year.

“I often set poems to music and I am currently putting together a show with the working title Who Killed James Joyce? from the poem by Patrick Kavanagh,” he says. “It will consist of my settings of poems by a range of Irish poets like Caitlin Maude, Mary O’Malley, Rita Ann Higgins, Seamus Heaney, Michael Hartnett, Louis MacNiece, and others.”

And what about that story about a young Paul Simon performing in Galway?

“Back in the sixties, in the old Enda Hotel in Dominick Street, there used to be the Fo’castle folk club,” Tyrrell explains. “I used to play there as part of the group The Freedom Folk. It was one of the only folk clubs at the time that was mentioned in the Michelin Guide to Europe.

“It was quite famous and a lot of well-known people came there, people like Rambling Jack Elliott played there; Peter O’Toole used to drop in; New York Times critic Robert Shelton whose early review of Bob Dylan first brought him to prominence, visited as well.

“Anyway, one night Paul Simon came in. I remember Johnny Mulhern was playing with us that night. I hadn’t a clue who Paul Simon was, very few of us did. He asked could he play a few songs and we let him, naturally enough. None of us had any idea we had a future star among us!”

The Mikey Needs A Bus benefit concert promises to be a great night’s entertainment and all for a very good cause. Tickets are €15 and can be purchased in advance from Kelly’s. Also, should anyone wish to make a donation to the fund, they can send it to Sean Tyrrell, Dooneen, Burren, County Clare.

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