It was an unusually pleasant evening for that time of year, when in March 1974, a group of musicians, singers and dancers gathered in one of the newly built thatched cottages in Renvyle for what was to be the beginning of the Renvyle Seisiún programme which after more than 30 years is still going strong and is more popular that ever. We drank a lot of strong tea with freshly baked currant bread and enjoyed a great night of music, song and dance. That was the first time I met the young accordion player John G. Walsh and a young dancer Mary McDonnell, later to become John’s wife. In later years their young daughter, Marie, grew up in a household where she was surrounded by and immersed in superb accordion music sessions when well-known box players came to visit.
As a young girl, Marie, mastered the tin whistle, accordion, fiddle and piano and, indeed, it was no great surprise when, in 2003 and 2004, at the All-Ireland Fleadhanna Cheoil in Clonmel she put two Senior All-Ireland titles in piano accompaniment and button accordion back to back. She has been awarded the Comhaltas TTCT Diploma as a teacher of Irish Traditional Music and enjoys a growing reputation as a dedicated and much sought after music teacher.
Marie’s, long awaited first CD is a jewel casket of well known and newly crafted tunes which are tastefully ornamented and played at a beautifully relaxed pace which allows the music to breathe. Marie plays the accordion, fiddle and piano and is joined by her dad John G., Mícheál O’Rourke from Co. Clare, holder of two All-Irelands in Piano Accompaniment and Fiddle, well-known local musician Richie Newman and Brian Cunningham who does a few steps of sean nós dancing. With recording in the capable hands of musician and sound engineer Eugene Kelly this is a CD which every Irish Traditional Music enthusiast will want to include in their collection and which will introduce Marie to a much wider audience. Marie and John Gerard are wonderful musicians but above all they are very special people.
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