Two CD’s recently released by local singers have caught my attention. The Sullivan Brothers new release is their second CD following their extended coverage on the TV programme ‘You’re a Star.’ Comprising 12 songs all written and sung by the talented sons of Denis and Ann Sullivan of Avondale Drive, the CD is one which deserves to succeed. However, given the experiences of other Irish artists who find themselves deprived of airtime on our national radio, success, if it comes, may have to rely on local rather than national radio. I have been playing the CD ‘Weary’ in my car for the past three weeks and the more I listen to the Sullivan Brothers songs the more I like them. The backing musicians which include the exceptionally talented whistle player Brian Hughes provide excellent accompaniment to the singing of the Sullivan Brothers.
Two songs from their first album are repeated here ‘Keep holding on’, the signature tune of the album of the same name and ‘A little while’ get a second outing. The latest versions of both songs confirm the musical progress made by the singing brothers since their first release. This is a CD which not only the younger folk but others also might enjoy.
Certainly the second CD by local singer Jacinta O’Donnell will appeal to older listeners. It is a CD of favourite hymns in which Jacinta is joined by Geraldine Flanagan on piano. I have enjoyed Jacinta’s singing in St. Michael’s Parish Church for many years. Her beautiful rendition of church hymns has enriched many an occasion in the church from celebratory devotions of one kind or another to sad funeral services. Her distinctive singing voice so evenly pitched with crystal clear diction is always a joy to hear. It was Charles Acton, late music critic of the Irish Times who once wrote ‘music as an art combines the brain, the mind, the emotions, the heart and the revelations of the spirit of God.’ Jacinta O’Donnell consistently meets Acton’s exacting declaration when she sings in our local parish church and long may she do so.
Her CD ‘Hymns to our Lady’, consists of seven hymns, all well known to those of us who were members of church sodalities which were once a large part of our regulated church lives of younger days. Her singing of the traditional Gaelic hymn, ‘A Mhuire Mháthair’ is my favourite from this CD which I see is labelled Volume I and so holds out the prospect of another volume or volumes at some time in the near future.
Local artists, whether singers, writers, painters or participants in any artistic format, should be able to rely on local support and hopefully both the Sullivan Brothers and Jacinta O’Donnell will get that support in their home town.
The Arts Centre in Woodstock Street will, I understand, host a Sullivan Brothers concert some time in the autumn. The Arts Centre has put on a number of excellent concerts over the last three months, not all of which have attracted the audience numbers one might have expected. The Centre is a wonderful addition to the cultural outlets in Athy and is deserving of every local person’s support. If you would like to be kept informed of forthcoming events in the Arts Centre you should contact the Centre on (085) 2447221 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be given advance notice by email of whatever is planned for the Woodstock Street venue.
John Joyce, whom I never had the pleasure of meeting but with whom I corresponded some time ago, has recently written an account of the varied heritage of Graiguenamanagh. He devoted a chapter in his excellent book to ‘The Barrow Starch Works’ which he had referred to briefly in his previous book ‘Graiguenamanagh - A Town and its People’ published in 1993. The starch works was opened in 1842 by John Kelly and continued by his son William Patrick Kelly who had served as an officer in the Royal Artillery for a number of years. When he retired from the army Kelly returned to Graiguenamanagh to take charge of the Barrow Starch Works and married a Miss Lawlor from Athy in or around 1880. The business failed in 1890 and the Kellys left for England where the former Miss Lawlor died. William Kelly later remarried and while living in England began a writing career which saw the publication of several historical adventure novels which were very popular in their day. I recently acquired ‘The Cuban Treasure Island’ by William Patrick Kelly which was published in 1903 by George Routledge & Company, London. The author presented a copy of this book to his son which he inscribed ‘To Master W.F. Peer Kelly from his affectionate father the author William P. Kelly September 8th 1904’. That copy of Kelly’s book now sits on my shelves. Kelly died in 1916.
I am interested in hearing from anyone who can give me any information on the Miss Lawlor from Athy who married the former English Army Officer, William Patrick Kelly, who in the latter years of his life achieved a measure of fame and popularity as the author of several adventure novels.