Garry McMahon Trophy Goes to the Kingdom

Lovers and followers of traditional singing, recitation and storytelling from near and far gathered in Abbeyfeale at the weekend to commemorate and celebrate the life of the famous composer, writer, singer and sportsman. The weekend was officially opened by Senator Labhrás O’Murchú,Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann on Friday night at the Ramble Inn in the midst of a large gathering which included members of the McMahon family. Mr. O’Murchú in his opening address spoke of the power of the ballad, how it was nurtured at the fireside university, close to the people, the intimacy of the setting and the message it communicated. Garry McMahon the ballad maker has left an everlasting legacy. The messages that come across in his songs about life, places and people will stand as an eternal monument to his memory. He congratulated the West Limerick Singing Club on the work they were doing and the suitability of the setting at the Ramble Inn was akin to the fireside settings of long ago where people come together, sing the songs, tell the stories and carry on the tradition and culture to which Garry McMahon committed his life to.

Owen McMahon spoke briefly on the ballad and how it has stood the test of time and to date it had conquered all that came in its way and the challenge now is one of survival. The centerpiece of the weekend was the newly composed ballad competition which attracted a huge interest. The winner of the Garry McMahon Trophy and cash prize went to Patrick O’Sullivan from Scartaglin, Co Kerry, singing his own composition ‘My Native Scartaglin’. Second place went to Larry Joy from Tipperary also singing his own composition ‘Lest We Forget’. Third place went to Tony McMahon from Clare also singing his own composition ‘The Ballad of Titanic Survivor’. The now very popular Aifreann an Riocht as arranged by the late Mr. McMahon was performed by the Abbeyfeale choir under the baton of Dee Dennison at 12 noon Mass on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon there was a tribute paid to Bryan McMahon short story writer, playwright, educator and ballad maker. This was given by his son Owen who dwelled on his collection of folklore and ballads and how he lived close to the ground, listening to and engaging with people.  His interest in traveler children and winning their confidence and welcoming them into the school which led to him writing ‘The Honey Spike’. He also mentioned his great friend Eamonn Kelly, their days together in Listowel and how Bryan gave him the key to many a story. The Saturday workshops on song writing and composing again created a huge interest and these workshops were delivered by Joe O’Connor from Clare and Dick Beamish from Cork and hopefully the fruits of this will be seen in our Newly Composed Ballads in future years. The singing sessions at Philip Enright’s Ramble Inn and Leen’s Hotel were very enjoyable and went on throughout the weekend. It was great to hear the songs from different areas and singers with different techniques and styles and finally a special word of praise to the very appreciative audiences and listeners who attended and made it very worthwhile for the performers.