Jeanne Rathbone

Dolores Keane singer Notable Galway Woman

Posted in Dolores Keane singer and Notable Galway Woman by sheelanagigcomedienne on August 12, 2018

 

 

 

Dolores Keane is one of Ireland’s greatest singers and is undoubtedly a Notable Galway women. She is usually referred to as either a folk, traditional or Celtic singer. He voice is so distinctive, resonant and haunting with a definite Galway twang. She is dubbed the “Voice of Ireland” by Nanci Griffith. Dolores is known the world-over for her deep, melodic voice which often lives up to her name which means ‘sorrow’. She is a singer of the stature of Bessie Smith, Umm Kulthum and Aretha Franklin according to the Immortal Jukebox blogger  https://theimmortaljukebox.com/2017/01/09/dolores-keane-

Her Galway Bay is, for me, the definite Galway song

 

though I have a soft spot for the Tin Pan Alley Galway Bay as sung by Bing Crosby in 1966 and recorded in Dublin.                                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9NM3SMRtaQ

Here is an earlier video of them talking about their musical heritage  and singing ‘I am thinking, ever thinking’                                         http://euscreen.eu/item.html?id=EUS_DE5275FB22D64E91B1C49EEEE7CC3A86

They Keane family produced an album in 1985 which has been reissued.Dolores and family record

In the sleeve notes, Dolores  writes: ‘My earliest recollections of music and singing were when I was about three years of age. My grandmother’s house, where I spent much of my childhood, was often visited by many fine musicians and singers. Among them were Willie Clancy, Máirtín Byrnes, Seán ‘ac Dhonncha and many others from neighbouring villages. During the music sessions at the house, the ‘noble call’ operated among the gathered company and, even at the age of four or five, I was expected to do my bit. This encouraged me to learn songs and tunes.

Like all my brothers and sisters, I was fortunate to grow up in an atmosphere where learning songs and tunes was like learning to read or to walk. I remember Ulick McDonnell, an elderly neighbour, visiting the house and swapping songs with my grandmother. I remember my Uncle Paddy playing his flute, while visiting travelling people danced a set in the kitchen and I remember Ciarán Mac Mathúna coming to record songs for his Ceolta Tire radio programme.

In 1975, she co-founded the very successful traditional Irish band De Danaan and they released their debut album Dé Danann in that same year. The group gained international recognition and enjoyed major success in the late 1970s in the US. Dolores went touring with the band and their single “The Rambling Irishman” was a big hit in Ireland. In early 1976, after a short two-year spell, she left left De Dannan.

 

 

 

 

Soon thereafter, she married multi-instrumentalist John Faulkner musician John  with whom she had worked on many occasions, in 1977 and with whom she would subsequently record three albums of folk music.

Dolores and John

Dolores lived and worked in London for several years with John  before they moved to Ireland in the early 1980s. They worked on a series of film scores and programmes for the BBC and formed two successful bands, The Reel Union and Kinvara. During this period Dolores recorded her first solo album, There Was a Maid in 1978. This was followed by two other releases, Broken Hearted I’ll Wander (1979) and Farewell to Eirinn (1980), which gave credit to Faulkner.

In the mid-1980s she rejoined De Danaan and recorded the albums Anthem and Ballroom with them.

De Danaan with Dolores

After a very difficult pregnancy, Dolores gave birth to their first child, Joseph. He was born with a condition Laurence -Moon Bardet-Biedl Syndrome  which causes obesity and and failing leading to blindness. Her marriage ended in 1988.

She then resumed on a very successful solo career, establishing herself as one of the most loved interpreters of Irish song.  She also toured with Planxty and collaborated with The Chieftains on the album “Bonapart’s Retreat”.

1988 saw the release of the eponymous Dolores Keane album. Her follow-up album A Lion in a Cage, in 1989 which featured a song written by Faulkner called Lion in the Cage  protesting the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela  It became her second Irish number one and she performed the hit at the celebration of his release. This exposure expanded Dolores’s reputation and popularity worldwide.

She played the female lead in the Dublin production of  Brendan Behan’s The Hostage the opening night of which was attended by Mary Robinson  the President of Ireland at the time.

The story of A Women’s Heart http://www.pressreader.com/ireland/irish-independent-weekend-magazine/20120721/282278137453406

In 1992, Delores was among the many female Irish singers to lend their music to the record-smashing anthology A Woman’s Heart. The album, which also featured Eleanor McEvoy, Mary Black, Frances Black Sharon Shannon and Maura O’Connell , went on to become the biggest-selling album in Irish history. A Woman’s Heart Vol.2 was released in late 1994 and emulated its predecessor in album charts the world over. Also in 1994, a solo album, entitled Solid Ground, was released on the Shanachie label and received critical acclaim in Europe and America.

Dolores and Sean

In 1995, Dolores was was awarded the prestigious Fiddler’s Green Hall of Fame award in Rostrevor Co Down for her “significant contribution to the cause of Irish music and culture”. In that same year, she took to the stage in the Dublin production of  Synge’s Playboy of the Western World.

Dolores at home 2007

She contributed to the RTE/BBC television production “Bringing It All Back Home”, a series of programmes illustrating the movement of Irish music to America. Dolores was shown performing both in Nashville  with musicians such as  Emmylou Harris and Richard Thompson and at home in Galway with her aunts Rita and Sarah.

In August 1997, Dolores went to number one again in the Irish album charts with a compilation album with her most loved songs. And another studio album was released by her in 1998, called Night Owl. Dolores Night Owl

It saw her returning to her traditional Irish roots and it did well in Europe and America. Despite a healthy solo career, she went on tour with De Danaan again in the late 1990s, where she played to packed audiences in venues such as Birmingham Alabama and New York City.

Dolores, Emmylu and mary Sonny

But then she stopped touring. By then she had settled with her partner Barry ‘Bazza’ Farmer which lasted for 20 years and she had her daughter Tara in 1994  with him. Her relationship ended a few years ago. Dolores had problems with alcoholism and depression and has received extensive treatment for these conditions. She was also diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.

Dolores  has pleaded guilty to drink driving at Clonboo on November 19 2010 and again in Glenties. in 2014 she attended a hearing asking to have her licence restored as she needed it to attend medical appointments following development of breast cancer and, to continue to attend her AA meetings.

Dolores outside Glenties counrt July 2014

Dolores outside Glenties Court when she asked to be given back her licence halfway through her four year ban.

There is an article from 2014 by Barry Egan.  https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/dolores-keanes-demons-through-the-glass-darkly-30239464.html

“I was ready to give singing a break,” Dolores says, because it was enabling her to be an alcoholic but, “I didn’t know how to give up singing. But I did need a break from singing. I was burnt out.”

In hindsight, Dolores believes that the heavy drinking was her way of “trying to get away from the singing and where she was in her life.” Despite the praise and international accolades, Dolores wasn’t happy “having to put the good face on. I had had enough of that.”

“I was fed up with the road,” she continues. “I was fed up with the songs I was singing. I was fed up with the approach of the bands I had and everything else. It was all the same old ding dong. I wanted to change all that. I wanted this new lease of life.”

This article is about the tour that Dolores did with her brother Sean in 2015/16   when she went on on tour for the first time in over 30 years  with him https://www.independent.ie/life/family/family-features/bondings-keane-to-make-music-34298868.html

This article is also about the tour http://www.irishnews.com/lifestyle/2015/09/14/news/folk-favourite-dolores-is-keane-to-get-gigging-again-259399/

“Music has got me all over the world and it’s been a fabulous experience. We’ve been to America, China, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Australia, New Zealand and all over Europe. Getting paid always seemed like a bonus.”

Are there any songs she never tires of singing?

“I love The Island and Galway Bay and Caledonia and Never Be The Sun. Caledonia is a song people always ask for; I can’t not do that one. But as soon as I introduce it, people sing it back to me so it’s an easy gig for me,” she laughs.

There was an article in Ireland’s Own which also mentions the RTE 2015 documentary

https://www.irelandsown.ie/a-star-with-a-sacred-voice/

In the past couple of year Dolores has gone public about her troubles and she told the full, unvarnished story in a searingly honest and acclaimed documentary by Liam McGrath, entitled ‘Dolores Keane: A Storm In The Heart’, initially shown on RTE television last year and recently repeated.

Many people were very moved by the brutal honesty of the story she told, and wished her well in getting her life back on an even keel and her career back on track.

She has shown courage and determination in telling her story in the hope of inspiring and helping others, and she has been back on the touring circuit for the past 18 months, being joined in many of the shows by her equally well known and talented brother, Sean.

The trademark flowing red hair has gone as a result of her cancer treatment but the quality of her remarkable voice and the love of the songs which has always driven her is still undimmed.

Dolores comeback

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/treibh/dolores-keane-comes-storming-back-1.1925406

It wasn’t just Keane’s honesty in relation to her life and the way that she exposed the same ordinary human failings – as we all have – to the camera that people loved about the documentary A Storm in the Heart. This isn’t the reason why the tickets for her comeback tour of the same name will disappear quicker than the May morning dew. It is also the complete lack of egoism she eschewed towards her one time star status.

Dolores is taking life at an easy pace now. Her son Joseph lives in Galway, on-off and between Dolores’s house and Dolores’s sister Christina’s house. “He also goes to a place in Galway – his work as he calls it. But he is doing brilliantly.” Her daughter Tara lives in Tuam and works in retail. No doubt, she will be heard singing again even if those touring days on the road are over and I am sure she will enjoy it again but without the pressures and expectations of when she was younger.

While she has a voice she wont stop singing when she gets together with other musicians, especially around Galway and while she is walking with her dogs or maybe doing a bit of gardening and remembering what a fascinating life she has had with all its vicissitudes, what pleasure she has given to millions as she shared her wonderful talent, all helped by a great sense of humour and always a proud Galway woman..

Notable Galway Women

Posted in Notable Galway Women by sheelanagigcomedienne on June 6, 2017

I am writing this series of blogs featuring Notable Galway Women in reaction to the two songs entitled Galway Girl – one written by Steve Earle and the latest by Ed Sheeran in the Irish tradition of songs about women from a male perspective – the male gaze.

I am celebrating and commemorating 14 Notable Galway Women in the centenary year of some women women getting the vote. This is in parallel with my Notable Women of Lavender Hill Walks which came about because none of the Wandsworth Heritage Societes/Groups were planning any activities in the centenary year as they had already decided on the theme of ‘open spaces’ . This is why my talk on International Women’s of Significant Battersea Women became my walk Notable Women of Lavender Hill.

In my preface I explain that as a Humanist Celebrant I have been writing brief biographies for funerals and memorials and this is an extension of that tendency. I have also been involved with the Battersea Society commemorative blue plaques and believe so much in this kind of commemoration. I have even gone a step further in campaigning for a statue of Charlote Despard 1844-1939 socialist, suffragette and Sinn Feiner to be commissioned in the regenerated Nine Elms Battersea. So, I am on a mission to have real women commemorated as they are so under represented visibly in the public domain with plaques and statues.

Getting back to the Galway Girl songs.  They are often fetishised descriptions of hair colour, wearing black velvet band, rosy cheeks, lily white skin, wearing bonnets, carrying baskets, tripping along, called Mary, Rose,  Eileen and, of course, place naming Galway, Tralee, Mooncoin etc.  This is the typical objectifying of women as the ‘comely maidens’ of De Valera’s imagination. The Lovely Girls contest in Father Ted refers to the annual cringe fest of the Rose of Tralee beauty pageant where the Roses parade in front of the Prime Minister every summer – an Taoseach ogling the cailini – only in Ireland or an oligarchic Whatistan.

The other role of Irish womanhood is, of course, in the home and enshrined in the constitution. The reference to a woman’s “life within the home” rather than work in the home, and the desire to prevent mothers from engaging in the labour force “to the neglect of their duties in the home” is insulting,  Catholic inspired and patriarchal.

My original blog was in response to the blow-in Earle who has returned to the states but when I heard that Sheeran had written one also with the same title, was happy to admit that 400 million people of Irish descent would be interested in it, shamelessly acknowledging that he did it for financial reasons and not bothered by a plagiarism challenge.

The hype in Ireland, particulaly in Galway,  about it was OTT especially when the video starring Saoirse Ronan as the Galway Girl appeared.  saoirse ronan

http://www.dailyedge.ie/galway-girl-video-implausible-3373033-May2017/

The Earle imagined black-haired/blue-eyed women disappeared after the one night fling after their a walk on the Salthill prom. Presumably she fled because she didn’t fancy him in the sober light of day. Stewart Lee, cynical comedian, has sung it on the grounds that his wife’s folk – comedienne Bridget Christie – hail from Galway. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfAJAG6dgQI

There is a version as ghaeilge.  A cover version of the song by Mundy and Sharon Shannon reached number one and became the most downloaded song of 2008 in Ireland, and has gone on to become the eighth highest selling single in Irish chart history.

So, Ed Sheeran thought he could cash in the popularity of a song called Galway Girl.   The Sheeran Galway girl it turns out was based on fiddle player Niamh Dunne who is a member of Antrim-based folk group Beoga that collaborated with Sheeran on the track.  However, she is not his love interest nor married to an Englishmen and is from from Limerick. But they did spend a night on the tiles in Dublin Irish dancing, Guinness, two Irish whiskeys – Jameson and Powers, Van the Man, a rendition of Carrickfergus, Grafton Street – the usual kind of ingredients of a commercial modern Irish song.  Of course, he is eligible for an Irish passport, ginger hair etc. And that makes him Irish. He even has a photo of him as a teenager busking in Galway next to the statue of Oscar Wilde.

Ed Sheeran in Galway

Teenage Sheeran busking in Galway

So now I feel compelled to write about Galway women. The first thing to note about Galway women is that they are women not girleens. I am one.  There is some interesting imagery of women in Galway songs. For a start, you had the women making hay, in the uplands digging pratees whilst chatting in Irish- a language that the English do not know. The woman featured in the song a Galway Shawl wears ‘a bonnet with a ribbon on it’ but ‘she wears no paint nor powder,  no none at all’.

Further name check of Galway songs produces the Queen of Connemara which transpires is a boat, Sweet Marie refers to the name of a horse in the Galway Plate race of the Galway Races. There’s the Lass of Aughrim which featured in James Joyce’s Dubliners. There is Pegeen Litir Mor telling how she attracts not only the poet but men from different districts. And so it goes on.

Even our bard Seamus Heaney got in on the act with his Girls Bathing Galway.

No milk-limbed Venus ever rose
Miraculous on this western shore;
A pirate queen in battle clothes
Is our sterner myth.

…in swimsuits, Brown-legged, smooth-shouldered and bare-backed
They wade ashore with skips and shouts.

This will always remind my generation of the proclamation of disapproval by the very conservative Bishop Browne about women in Salthill wearing two piece bathing costumes which prompted a letter in response from some Galway women inquiring which piece of the swim suit did his Lordship wish them to remove.

Galway women come in varying shapes, sizes, temperaments, ages and colours. They are emigrants, daughters, mothers, sisters, wives, lovers, poets, authors, entrepreneurs, singers, dancers, artists, politicians, teachers, workers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists, administrators, shop assistants, etc.

I would like to introduce you to a few Galway women.  It is a random choice from poets, to Nationalist activists. I have included Mary Devenport O’Neill (1879 – 1967) poet and dramatist. She wrote the poem Galway which I suggested to Tom Kenny should feature in the Galway Poetry Trail. He said it was too long!

Galway

I know a town tormented by the sea,
And there time goes slow
That the people see it flow
And watch it drowsily,
And growing older hour by hour they say,
‘Please God, to-morrow!
Then we will work and play,’
And their tall houses crumble away.
This town is eaten through with memory
Of pride and thick red Spanish wine and gold
And a great come and go;
But the sea is cold,
And the spare, black trees
Crouch in the withering breeze
That blows from the sea,
And the land stands bare and alone,
For its warmth is turned away
And its strength held in hard cold grey-blue
stone;
And the people are heard to say,
Through the raving of the jealous sea,
‘Please God, to-morrow!
Then we will work and play.’

There are powerful Galway women like Catherine Corless who has worked tirelessly to expose the secret and shame of the neglected babies who died and were buried in unmarked graves and their unfortunate mothers who were incarcerated by the Irish state and the Catholic Church whilst the silent population looked on. There was Bridie O’Flaherty , Mayor and founder member of the Progressive Democrats, Anita Leslie 1914-1985,  biographer and writer and there is Leila Doolan Producer /Director,  Patricia Burke Brogan, playwright, novelist, poet and artist who exposed the the Magdalene Laundries scandal in her play Eclipsed, Jessie Lendennie founder of Salmon Publishing which has championed women poets, Vanda Luddy artist, Mary Coughlan, chanteuse and Galway character that was Una Taaffe etc.

I emigrated in 1965 when I was still a teenager and so my choice of women of Galway reflects that as I am now an old pensioner, pagan and stranger in the City of Tribes. I have selected Nora Barnacle, wife and muse of James Joyce,  Rita Anne Higgins poet, Michelene Sheehy  Skeffington, botanist and gender equality campaigner, Siobhain McKenna, actor,  Lady Augusta Gregory, playwright and Abbey Theatre founder,  Garry  Hynes, Theatre Director, Alice Perry, Civil Engineer, Ada English, Psychiatrist 1903 UCG, Alice Cashel, Irish nationalist,  Margaretta D’Arcy, author and activist, Maureen Kenny, bookseller, Mary Devonport O’Neill poet Dolores Keane singer and Clare Sheridan sculptor and writer. A younger person would have chosen a different set of Mná na Gaillimhe  and I hope they do and continue the celebration of significant Galway women.

I hope that some Galway woman/women will pick up this idea and even do a walk entitled Notable Women of Galway Trail to the places lived in or associated with these women. I think this should happen for 2020 Year of culture. I certainly hope so and it is part of my intention in embarking on this. I also hope that

I will feature each one individually.

Nora Barnacle (1884 -1951)  Wife and Muse of James Joyce Nora Barnacle

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/tag/nora-barnacle/

Maureen Kenny (1918-2008) Bookseller extraordinaire Maureen K

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/maureen-kenny-galway-bookseller-extraordinaire/

Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932) Dramatist, folklorist and theatre manager Augusta,_Lady_Gregory_ alter life

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/lady-augusta-gregory-galway-woman-2/

Rita Anne Higgins  Poet, Bard of Galway Rita-Ann-Higgins-2

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/tag/rita-anne-higgins/

Alice Cashel (1878-1958) Irish Nationalist Alice_Cashel

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/tag/alice-cashel/

Garry Hynes      Theatre Director Garry Hynes

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/galway-women-part-2/

Alice Perry (1885-1969)  First Woman  Civil Engineer 

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2018/05/02/alice-perry-first-european-female-engineering-graduate-galway-woman-6/Alice_Perry_1885-1969

Michelene Sheehy Skeffington    Botanist, NUIG Gender Discrimination     

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/tag/michelene-sheehy-skeffington/

Michelene

Margaretta D’Arcy Author, Political Activist Theatre 

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2018/07/14/margaretta-ddarcy-galway-woman/

Margaretta D

Margaretta Darcy

Ada English (1875-1944) Psychiatrist and Irish Nationalist

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2018/07/20/ada-english-psychiatrist-galway-woman/

Ada biography

Mary Devonport O’Neill (1879-1967)  Poet and Playwright https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/mary-devenport-oneill-poem-galway/

Mary Devenport O'Neilll

Dolores Keane Singer https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/…/dolores-keane-singer-and-notable-ga…

Dol

Siobhán McKenna (1923–86)         
https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/category/siobhan-mckenna-renowned-actor-and-notable-galway-woman/
Siobhan Dr Z
Clare Sheridan (18  -190 Sculptor, Author and Traveller
https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/category/clare-sheridan-author-sculptor-and-notable-galway-woman/
Clare by Anita