Tag Archives: Irish traditional music

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.

Boston CCE Music School Fall 2014

Fall Classes at the Boston CCE Music School

Here are some highlights of the fall semester class offerings at the Boston CCE Music School. Registration is now going on. The CCE day runs from 9 – 2pm on Saturdays. See the tuition info here. Classes are held at the St. Columbkille Partnership School in Brighton at 25 Arlington Street, Brighton MA 02135. Questions about classes? (We’ve got answers.) Or contact an administrator at the music school. See faculty profiles here.

Children’s Classes

Generally speaking, our Children’s Intro classes tend to be at 9:30, with other classes starting at 10. Beginner and improver classes will be earlier in the day, and more intermediate and advanced students can expect to be scheduled later in the day.

New Classes

We are offering some new classes this term, and will be joined by Kathleen Conneely as a returning whistle teacher – I hope many of you take the opportunity to explore working with her, and try out these new offerings!

Playing for The Sets – taught by Joey Abarta

In this ten class workshop, Joey will take students through repertoire and variation for playing for set and ceili dances. An Irish musician isn’t a true Irish musician unless they can play for dancers. Taking the five most common set dances, a few waltzes, and mazurkas, you will explore exactly what it takes to play a full night of music for dancing.

Low D Whistle Class – taught by Torrin Ryan

For intermediate to advanced players interested in learning low whistle.

Flute Master Class: Flute Forum with James Hamilton – advanced players only

Refinement topics for players who’ve mastered essential flute technique. While other flute classes will focus on advancing students’ mechanics, this course will offer students with advanced technique an opportunity to focus on stylistic nuance. We’ll discuss different regional flute styles and recommended players, and hopefully cross-pollinate with other instruments and their technique.

Fiddle Master Class with Tina Lech – advanced players only

The 10-week fiddle master class will be broken up into 2-3 smaller sections focusing on fiddle ornaments and bowing, phrasing, and the final section on duet and trio playing. Players who choose to participate should already be able to play jigs, reels, and hornpipes on their own at a moderate session pace without stopping and be able to learn and memorize

Realta Geala

Realta Geala is now broken into two classes – Realta Geala Jr. (open to all kids) & Realta Geala Sr (by instructor invitation/permission – this is a performance-based ensemble and will include our Trad Youth Exchange Group).