Tuneful recollections of Goodman on home turf

Aoife Granville, Cillian Ó Briain and Seán Michael Redican playing tunes in Baile Móir on Monday night with Mike Fitzgerald (left), Ian Crusher and Meg Fitzgerald (right) among the listeners. Photo by Declan Malone
Aoife Granville, Cillian Ó Briain and Seán Michael Redican playing tunes in Baile Móir on Monday night with Mike Fitzgerald (left), Ian Crusher and Meg Fitzgerald (right) among the listeners. Photo by Declan Malone

Music collected in West Kerry by James Goodman was heard again in his home village of Baile Móir on Monday night as Mike and Meg Fitzgerald opened their door to musicians, listeners and a handful of tourists who were lucky enough to find themselves in the right place at the right time for a night of music and bothántaíocht, the likes of which is rarely seen.

Mike, a former lecturer and farmer in Australia, and his wife Meg became associated with Baile Móir when they bought Paud Neill's old house in 2013. The property included the field where Canon James Goodman's family home once stood and although the house is long gone now Mike unearthed flagstones that might once have been the kitchen floor.

Last year Mike renovated two derelict cottages that would have been neighbours to Goodman in the mid 1800s when he was a prolific collector of the local music of West Kerry. Given the Goodman connection and his own interest in piping, Mike thought there would be no better place for a night of music - not entirely in memory of Goodman but "a bloody good excuse" nonetheless.

And so Mike and Meg welcomed a small gathering on Monday night to the cottage where Aoife Granville gave a brief outline of Goodman's life and work, Cillian Ó Brian and the very talented Seán Michael Redican played the pipes and chat and banter continued into the night.

Mike - whose people come from Cloghane - and Meg now live full-time in Baile Móir and they plan to have more Goodman inspired nights of music over the winter, with a welcome on the mat for anybody who calls in.

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