Category Archives: News

Helen foley, R.I.P.

Helen Foley,    R.I.P.

Sad news from Worcester for the Irish Trad Community

Helen Foley, a backbone of the Worcester Irish Trad community, passed away on December 20nd.   She battled cancer bravely with true grace for many years.

Tribute from the Community

Charlie O’Neill shared the following sentiments by email in telling us of Helen’s death,

“She meant so much to the traditional music scene here – but that was a mere fraction of her life’s contributions as a wife, mother, neighbor, friend.  She talked with, touched, worked with, and interacted with thousands – but each of us received the same acceptance, interest, joy, love, and commitment of this extraordinary person.   The world is truly a lesser place today. Helen came to the Fiddler’s Green session just two weeks ago!  A fighter right until the end!”

Obituary and Funeral Arrangements

Helen T. (O’Sullivan) Foley, 76, passed away peacefully on December 20, 2019 at her home, surrounded by her loving family.

She was the beloved wife of 51 years of Paul V. Foley.

Born in County Offaly, Ireland, daughter of Patrick and Ellen (Cronin) O’Sullivan, Helen was, first and foremost, the love of her husband’s life, a nana, and the mother of six children, who adored her. In her spare time, between sips of tea and home-baked goodies with butter, she was a devoted friend to many, near and far. Helen lent her talents of camaraderie, dance and song to the Irish Club, the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Worcester St. Patrick’s Parade Committee. Not busy enough, she was also a very active member of Christ the King Parish (and previously of St. John’s Parish in Canton) and the lead voice of its choir for so many masses, funerals, and weddings that her voice will likely echo there for years to come. Because of their boundless devotion to family, friends and community, Paul and Helen were named co-Grand Marshals of the St. Patrick’s Parade in 2014. In her work (yes, she did that too), she worked for Aer Lingus in Boston, was a teacher’s aid in the Worcester Public Schools and was one of the very first and most beloved waitresses at O’Connor’s Restaurant.

She leaves behind her husband, Paul V. Foley; her children, Siobhan Foley of Reading; Ciaran Foley and his wife, Elizabeth of Brookline; Aileen Foley and her partner, Joanna Woodman of Watertown; Brendan Foley and his wife, Kristen of Pawtucket, RI; Neil Foley and his wife, Sharon of Mt. Vernon, NH; and Paul C. Foley of Worcester; also her brother, Timothy P. O’Sullivan of Rhode, County Offaly and sister, Kathleen Armstrong of Braintree; eight grandchildren; many nieces, nephews, extended family members and friends.

Helen’s family would like to thank Dr. Erica L. Mayer, Elahe Salehi, NP, and the staff at Dana Farber for the exceptional care provided to her during her illness and to the kind and compassionate staff of Hospice VNA in Worcester.

Visiting hours will be held on Friday, December 27th from 4:00pm until 7:00pm at the Callahan, Fay & Caswell Life Celebration Home, 61 Myrtle St., Worcester. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:00am on Saturday, December 28th at Christ the King Church, 1052 Pleasant St., Worcester. Burial will follow in Saint Patrick’s Cemetery, Whitinsville. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be considered to the Worcester Hibernian Cultural Foundation, 19 Temple St., Worcester, MA 01604; The VNA Care, Fund Development Center, 199 Rosewood Dr., Suite 180, Danvers, MA 01923; or to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284.

http://callahanfay.tributes.com/obituary/show/Helen-T.-Foley-107929731

Prepared by Maureen Conway, Secretary,

John “Jack” Conroy, R.I.P.

Jack  Conroy R.I.P.

Jack Conroy, traditional Irish musician

A long term  member of our Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann community and Comhaltas Hall of Fame inductee (2004), Jack Conroy,  talented musician,  gifted teacher and  active member and supporter of our organization,  died in Milton on  November 9th, 2019. Playing since the ’50’s, he has left a footprint in the Irish community locally and abroad.   We celebrate him.  We mourn him.  And we offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Gail, his family, and friends.

Active Comhaltas Participant

The Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley Branch has lost a friend and a true champion of traditional Irish music.  Jack played regularly at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton, participated in many Gaelic Roots events at Boston College and helped with our Music School in an administrative role until ill health prevented him from doing so.

Jack was an accomplished accordion player as well. Here we share a video of himself on box with Brendan Tonra on fiddle, and Helen Kisiel on keyboard playing two jigs, “Farewell to Kennedy” and “Willie’s Fiddle.” They explain that “Farewell to Kennedy” was written after the assassination of JFK and “Willie’s Fiddle” was a tune about Brendan’s father’s fiddle, which kept breaking and had to be fixed.

Hall of Fame Inductee in 2004

Jack Conroy  was honored for his contribution to Irish traditional music as a melodeon player.  Our former webmaster and active Comhaltas participant , Larry Tormey, wrote this article about him on his induction into our Comhaltas Hall of Fame.

Tributes From The Community

Jack Conroy was a versatile musician and a friend, mentor and teacher to many in the Greater Boston area. We will miss him.

Some have described Jack as “a treasure,” “a great teacher,” “inspiring,” “one of my favorite players,” “a wonderful player on the Irish-American D/C# box.” A fellow musician commented, “His father played the G melodeon and ran a well-known watering hole.  Jack learned his music from a number of musicians including Jerry O’Brien (who also taught Joe Derrane) and Jack Diamond.”  It is very likely that the accordion in this video is a Walters bought new in 1949, with help from Jack’s father and Jack Diamond.

There will be many tributes by those who mourn his passing. Kieran Jordan, on learnng of Jack’s death, shared the following sentiments on Facebook.

“Thinking of our friend Jack Conroy. These were sweet times and I cherish the memories. Céilís at Boston College, with Jack Conroy on the far left, Helen R Kisiel, Brendan Tonra, Michael Tubridy, Jimmy Noonan, Daniel Accardi, Seamus Connolly, and Shane Cornyn. I know that Sean Smith and Beth Sweeney were there too!”

“Jack was one of the first musicians I met when I came to Boston College as a student, and he always encouraged my old-style step dancing. Our conversations over the years were mostly about music, or his other passions — trips to Ireland, and cooking. In my darkest days with Lyme, Jack said he would pray for me, to have more courage. ‘With a positive attitude,’ he said, ‘we can adapt to anything’.  He was dealing with ALS when he said that. I think of this often. Thank you Jack, and may you rest in peace.”

Obituary and Funeral Arrangements

Jack’s wake will be held at Murphy  Furneral Home in Dorchester on Thursday, November 14thth from 4-7 P.M.  His funeral Mass will be at St. Margaret’s Church of St Teresa of Calcutta in Dorchester on Friday, November 15th, at 10 A.M.  Burial will be at the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Dorchester. His obituary follows:
http://jmurphyfh.tributes.com/obituary/read/John-F.-Jack-Conroy-107757861

Prepared by Maureen Conway, Secretary, and Eileen McClelland, Webmaster, November 13, 2019.

Jim Flynn, R.I.P.

Jim Flynn, R.I.P.

Jim Flynn RIP 2018This week we lost a long-standing member of our Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann community, Comhaltas Hall of Fame inductee (2007), Jim Flynn, a talented player of the  harmonica and Irish button accordion and an active member and supporter  of our organization.

Maureen Woods, in her email from the Danvers Set Dancers, put it beautifully in her notice, which I include below.  Maureen is an active set  dancer and assists Jim’s daughter, set dance teacher Eileen Dugal, with communications for her Thursday night classes in Danvers. Our hearts go out to Eileen and Jim’s family.

We Will Miss Him

“Sadly, I must let you know that the Irish music community has lost another great man. Jim Flynn passed away on April 12th. He was 98. An inductee into the Comhaltas Hall of Fame, he was still entertaining us with tune after tune on his harmonica up until a year ago. He was a true gentleman with a sharp mind and an amazing memory. That he reached just shy of 99 years is due entirely to the constant, loving and unwavering care of his daughter, Eileen Dugal. They shared a love of Irish music, dance and heritage and you could always catch the pride in Mr. Flynn’s eyes when he gazed upon her. I will miss him, his firm hand shake and his stories from long ago. I know we all will.”

Hall of Fame Inductee in 2007

Jim Flynn was honored for his contribution to Irish traditional music for accordion and harmonica. Read an earlier article by Larry Tormey on his induction into our Comhaltas Hall of Fame.

Funeral Arrangements

His wake will be held at the Stanton Funeral Home in Watertown on Thursday, April 19th, from 4-8 P.M. His funeral mass will be at St. Joseph’s in Belmont on Friday, April 20th, at 9:00 A.M. Burial will be at the National Cemetery in Bourne at 1:45 P.M. Contributions in lieu of flowers in his memory may be sent to Boston Comhaltas Music School.”

Memorial Contributions

We thank the family for naming our Boston Comhaltas Music School as an organization for contributions in Mr. Flynn’s memory.

Contributions in lieu of flowers  in Jim’s memory may be sent to Boston Comhaltas Music School c/o Michael Hickey, Treasurer, 100 Woodpecker Rd., Stoughton, MA 02072.

Here is his obituary. http://www.stantonfuneralhome.com/obituary/james-flynn

 

Michael Connolly R.I.P.

The Reynolds Hanafin-Cooley Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann is saddened at the passing of longtime member Michael J. Connolly.

MICHAEL J. CONNOLLY’s Obituary in the Boston Globe follows:

MICHAEL J. CONNOLLY
CONNOLLY, Michael J. of Northport, Florida, formerly of Osterville and Watertown, died on September 1, 2016 at The Joy of Living II in Northport, Florida after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Born in Ireland, County Galway in 1938. He came to America in 1962, where he worked at BF Goodrich in Watertown where he had an industrial accident in November of 1966. In 1970 he went to work at John Hancock in Boston where he worked for 30 years as a computer operator until his retirement in August 2000.

Mike formed a band in the 1980’s called Mike Connolly’s CelticAires. He played at many weddings and parties for 3 decades and recorded 2 albums. Mike was inducted into the Irish Music Hall of Fame in 2002.

Devoted Husband of Trudy (Murphy) of 50 years. Beloved Father of Trish McHugh and her husband John, the late Michael Connolly and Maureen Connolly. Cherished Daideo of his granddaugher Grace McHugh. Beloved Son of the late Hannah (Heaphy) and John Connolly, brother to Julia Higgins, Paul Connolly and his wife Rose, cousin Bernadette Conneely, and the late Mary O’Toole, Ann McCann, John Connolly, Peter Connolly. Also survived by 18 nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Funeral Mass on Monday, September 19, 2016 at 11:00 am at St. Jerome’s Parish, 632 Bridge Street, North Weymouth, MA. 02191. Burial will be private. Donations in Mike’s memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association .

Read a little more about Mike’s music from this 2013 Facebook post about O’Shea’s Old Inn Sunday night session.

And this page shows a couple of photos of Mike playing with other Irish musicians in Florida.

 

Annie Mullen RIP Long Time Branch Member

Annie Mullen, R.I.P.

We are saddened at the passing of Annie Mullen, long time member of the Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. We extend our deepest condolences to family and friends.

Annie Mullen RIP July 28 2016
Annie Mullen,long time member of the Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley Branch of CCE

Annie’s husband Coleman (Coley) holds the position of Treori na Gaeilge for our branch (Irish Officer).

Funeral Arrangements

Friends and relatives are invited to visiting hours Monday 3-8 PM in the Murphy Funeral Home, 1020 Dorchester Avenue.  Dorchester (directions). A funeral Mass will be in St. Mark Church, Tuesday, August 2, at 12 noon.

Obituary

MULLEN Annie M. (McDonagh). In Braintree, formerly of Dorchester and Co. Galway, Ireland, July 28, 2016. Beloved wife of Coleman. Loving mother of Angela and her husband Kieran Kelly of Braintree, Aine and her husband Martin McDonagh of Quincy, and Caroline Mullen of Braintree. Sister of Maureen Mulkerrin of England, Colimin McDonagh of Braintree, Dudley McDonagh of Dorchester, Teresa Delaney of Ireland, and the late Paraic McDonagh. Devoted grandmother of Ciara, Claire, Annie, Nora, and Michael Kelly, Roisin and Fiona McDonagh. Survived by many nieces and nephews.

James A. Murphy & Son Funeral Home
1020 Dorchester Ave
Dorchester, MA 02125
617-265-9840

Obituary and tributes: http://jmurphyfh.tributes.com/obituary/show/Annie-M.-McDonagh-Mullen-103804268

Joe Derrane (R.I.P.)

Joe Derrane, RIP

The Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley Branch of Comhaltas wishes to extend its sincerest condolences to the family of Joe Derrane (Hall of Fame 1998) on his recent passing.  He was truly one of the legends of traditional Irish music in America and throughout the world.

Joe Derrane East Durham 2005 (image sourced from Wikipedia)
Joe Derrane, Irish-American button accordionist (image sourced from Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early Years

Born and raised in Boston and while still a teenager Joe was playing his 2-row D/C# accordion in the various Irish dance halls at Dudley Street in Roxbury.  He became widely recognized for his highly ornamental and spirited playing.

Return to Music Scene

After a long hiatus and on the persistent urging of the well-known Celtic music critic Earle Hitchner, Joe began his return to traditional music culminating in his appearance at the 1994 Irish Folk Festival at Wolf Trap in Virginia.  His performance was met with such great acclaim that Joe began his now famous second career.

Recognition

He toured throughout Europe, played with The Chieftains at Symphony Hall in Boston, appeared many times on radio and television, and received a Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.  In 1998 Joe was inducted into the Comhaltas Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding contributions to traditional Irish music.

Funeral Arrangements

Joe died on July 22nd 2016 at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, MA.  His funeral will be from the Hurley Funeral Home, 134 So. Main St. (Rt. 28), Randolph on Friday, July 29th at 9:15am followed by a funeral mass at St. Mary’s Church in Randolph at 10am. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend. Visiting hours Thursday, July 28th from 4-8pm. Interment St. Mary’s Cemetery, Randolph. In lieu of flowers donations can be sent to Homes for Our Troops, 6 Main St., Taunton, MA 02780.

[Barbara Davis]

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These are a few of our recent emails we have sent out to members and non-members who have joined our mailing list: recent e-mails.

If you are a dues-paying member of  the Reynolds, Hanafin, Cooley Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, you also receive a monthly newsletter with branch information,  including activities and news about branch members and community events. Members also receive a  subscription to Treoir magazine from our main organization in Ireland.  Read more about membership here.

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