Friday 23 March 2018

At the feet of The Master

12th annual Maurice O'Keeffe traditional music festival, Kiskeam

Maurice O Keeffe at Kiskeam National School on Easter Saturday.
Photo by Sheila Fitzgerald.
Maurice O Keeffe at Kiskeam National School on Easter Saturday. Photo by Sheila Fitzgerald.

Sheila Fitzgerald

SINCE time immemorial, master craftsmen everywhere have been the torch bearers for the next generations, and today Maurice O'Keeffe continues to pass on his magnificent legacy to fledgling musicians throughout Duhallow and beyond.

This year, Conor Daly from Rockchapel realised one of his greatest ambitions when he was declared overall winner of the Perpetual Cup for traditional fiddle playing.

"My dad started bringing me here when I was about eight", Conor, who is now 13, told The Corkman. "I loved listening to Maurice and all the other musicians around here.

"I play a lot nowadays at traditional festivals during the summer and I join in the seisiúns at Bruach na Carraige in Rockchapel, and Freemount Heritage Centre."

Conor, who attended classes with musicians Nicky McAuliffe and Clodagh Buckley, practices for an hour every evening, he is also proficient on the banjo, tin whistle and bodhrán.

This gifted young man has a dazzling array of trophies to his credit including: U15 Cork County, U15 Munster, and All Ireland titles as a member of the Crossfields Ceilí Band, Scór na bPáistí Solo Fiddle 2012, Cork County Trio, several Féile Cheoil wins, second place in the U15 Maurice ' Keeffe Festival last year, and now the coveted top prize.

After presenting first prize to Conor, the master himself gave an impromptu session, where he was joined by several of the young musicians who had earlier competed.

Adjudicator John Coakley urged the competitors to seek out and learn from the great musicians of Sliabh Luachra saying; "There is a life and vibrancy about the way it is played, it would just lift you.

"The great Julia Clifford said 'at the end of a good music session people throw away their crutches, they are in a different frame of mind, music just lifts the spirit'."

Ballydesmond and Kiskeam reverberated to the sounds of great traditional music throughout the Easter Festival with one of the highlights of the weekend being the launch of a CD and DVD of Maurice's life and music during the closing concert on Easter Sunday night.