Timmy O'Connor - a life in music
The recipient of the 2018 Patrick O'Keeffe Traditional Music Festival 2018 award for his 'Dedication to the Music of Sliabh Luachra' is Timmy O'Connor of Newmarket.
The award was conferred on Timmy at the concert in Castleisland by just-retired RTÉ presenter and musician, Peter Browne. However, there's many a slip between glass and lip, and the trophy which was to be presented with the award remained irretrievably locked in its shop of origin in uptown Castleisland.
The fact didn't knock a stir out of Timmy. The organisers promised to make amends at the first possible opportunity or as soon as they could drive legally again. That opportunity arose on Monday night of last week, and four members of the committee made a geographical and ideological border incursion between Castleisland to Newmarket.
But didn't Con Houlihan himself say that Sliabh Luachra was borderless now and threatening to consume the whole country. Timmy's trophy was triple wrapped in a cardboard box in festival president Pats Broderick's car in the care of committee chairman Cormac O'Mahony and members Charlie Nelligan and John Reidy.
Scully's Bar, deep on the Cork side of the borderless Sliabh Luachra, was our destination with musical enjoyment and the presentation of the trophy our mission.
The back room of Scully's was almost fully occupied with musicians, with Timmy O'Connor and Raymond O'Sullivan at the helm. There was also a fine complement of listeners - many of whom were drinking water. In his recently elected role as Sliabh Luachra Musician in Residence for the county councils of Cork, Kerry and Limerick, Raymond's son, Eoin 'Stan', welcomed the Kerry contingent.
During a break in the tunes, Eoin explained the reason for the presence of the visitors from Kerry and, in fairness to him, there wasn't a mention of drink giving rise to the occasion.
"As a young boy, Timmy O'Connor loved to listen to music, at the roadside dances, on his aunt's gramophone and at the dances at his neighbours' houses.
"When an accordion was left behind after one of those house dances, Timmy discovered that he could also play music," according to the award citation by Eoin Stan and Raymond O'Sullivan.
"As a fledgling musician his enthusiasm was so infectious that many retired players from the around dusted off their instruments to share their tunes with him. Timmy in turn shared those tunes with anyone he played with.
"Through his friendship with musicians like Jackie Daly, music that may otherwise have been lost has made its way into the repertoires of players all over the world.
"He is the well-deserved recipient of this year's 'Dedication to the Music of Sliabh Luachra Award' in Castleisland.
"For almost 70 years he has kept the musical flag flying along the eastern frontier of Sliabh Luachra. He has also seen service in Britain, mainland Europe and the USA.
"In his time he has played with all the 'greats', and he is a living link with a golden era in Sliabh Luachra music.
"A humble and grámhar gentleman, Timmy seems as happy playing music with children as with the 'stars', and over his long career he has helped many young aspiring musicians and dancers. "He has an amazing repertoire which he is always willing to share freely.
"Some of his tunes stretch back to Tom Billy, whose music he picked up from his friend and neighbour, Johnny Mickey Barry.
"In recent years he has turned his hand to composing and regularly surprises us with a new 'jewel'. Moladh go deo thú, Timmy, agus go maire tú an céad!"