independent

Wednesday 23 July 2014

A new tune for the King of Kiskeam

MARIA HERLIHY

Published 21/03/2013|05:26

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Maurice O'Keeffe

A 93 year old musician who has more than one good tale to tell will have the floor when a DVD on his life and music is unleashed.

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Maurice O'Keeffe has been instrumental in keeping toes tapping and music flowing in his native Kiskeam and throughout Duhallow for many years. Now, Leo and Noreen Fitzgerald of Music Row Studios in Ballydesmond, have produced a DVD and CD on the life and music of this near-legendary Sliabh Luachra fiddler.

The DVD shows Maurice sitting at his home in Kiskeam next to a warm open fire and a fiddle in his hand, vividly telling stories from his early childhood to the present day. The story is accompanied by some wonderful photographs, with some dating back to the 1920s and lots of film footage from the early 1970s.

Maurice speaks very fondly of his parents, especially his mother, Mary, who bought him his first fiddle in Scanlon's shop in Ballydesmond for 25 shillings. He says his mother always thought he had "something to offer" as he was "always diddling and whistling" as a child.

Despite the comfort of the music, times were very hard during the war. "In 1939, I worked in the bog. I worked 54 hours per week for 6 shillings and 10 pence a day," says Maurice.

He also speaks of his time at Cork County Council and the day he and his fellow workers were interviewed by the legendary Frank Hall for the popular TV series 'Hall's Pictorial Weekly'.

The gift of music also flowed from his father's side of the family and, years ago when many people held their wedding reception at home, Maurice's dad was frequently called to play the tunes and get people on the floor.

Rockchapel native Jack Roche, an avid historian and Sliabh Luachra advocate, has

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