The festival came into being just as the fall of 1993 approached. RTE Radio 1 presenter / producer, Peter Browne prompted that some event or other should be held to honour O’Keeffe – as that year marked the 30th anniversary of his death.
Mary Jones, who ran Charlie Horan’s Bar in Castleisland at the time, took up the baton from there and the rest is the history we read today.
Though unwell for a period during the harsh winter of 1962 / 63, and confined in St. Catherine’s Hospital in Tralee, it was with great surprise to many in the locality and well beyond that the news of his death was greeted on February 22-1963 at the age of 75.
Life and Times
That 30th anniversary prompted Peter Browne to take a closer look at the life and times of the man who lived and died at a time when broadcasting and recording in rural areas presented great obstacles to the pioneering spirits who undertook these tasks.
There did and indeed does, however, exist a few precious recordings made by the likes of Seamus Ennis and later by Ciarán Mac Mathúna. And, for Peter Browne, the timing could hardly have been a minute too soon.
Memories and opinions
In 1993 there were many who remembered Patrick O’Keeffe, his life and habits – and they gave both memories and opinions freely.
Patrick O’Keeffe was wedded to his fiddle and was a genius at getting the best out of ‘her’ – as he might say himself. He did, in fact, refer to the instrument as ‘The Missus’ in broadly quoted stories from highly regarded sources.
Mr. Browne’s landmark documentary was broadcast in a four part series on RTE Radio 1 over the four Saturday nights of November of 1993; the publicity windfall ensured that the Castleisland festival never had to look over its shoulder since.
Captions: RTÉ’s Peter Browne with Mike Kenny’s sculpture of Patrick O’Keeffe in Scartaglin. © Photograph:John Reidy.
The first session of the inaugural Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival took place at The Rambling House on Friday evening, October 22-1993. Pictured before the music began were: proprietor Mary Jones with, from left: Tim Kiely, Jerry McCarthy, Johnny O’Leary, Dan O’Connell, Paddy Cronin and Denis McMahon. © Photograph John Reidy