An evening in memory of Raymond Roland

An evening in memory of Raymond Roland
Raymond Roland’s daughter Annette who travelled from Ireland
for Saturday’s concert and accordion player Andy Martyn

Irish Traditional music has had unusually high exposure in London recently as part of 1916 Centenary commemoration – Macalla at The Barbican in March, Irish Culture in Britain Wigmore Hall and Imagining Ireland Southbank in April.

Last Saturday, Paul Gallagher assembled a number of jewels from this wonderful part of Ireland’s musical heritage for a tribute concert to Raymond Roland who died 30 years ago.

Raymond came to London in 1958 from his native Ballyshea, Loughrea, Co. Galway. Over the next three decades, he played all over London and was especially well known at that famous learning seat – the White Hart Pub in Fulham Broadway.

He was often joined by Roger Sherlock (RIP), the great Sligo flute player and Liam Farrell, with whom he formed an enduring partnership which was the core at the time for those wanting an opportunity for a real seisiun – where all musicians were welcome. During the concert Danny Meehan, master Donegal fiddle player and friend from that era who traveled from Ireland, paid tribute to Roger’s “passion” for a high quality tune – be it a rousing reel or a slow air. The amazing list of performers is a tribute to Raymond’s diligence.

Many of the current most gifted musicians who now play Irish music on the world stages were born in Britain to parents from every county in Ireland. That so many have reached such a high standard on their various instruments – brother James and John Carty on fiddle and flute (Roscommon), Mick Mulvey (Leitrim), Andy Martyn (Connemara) is Raymond’s legacy.

Fittingly his daughter Annette played the banjo and sang to rapturous applause from her Dad’s many friends who were in the audience.

It is hard to single out a player from the array at Cecil Sharpe House for this tribute, but Angela’s Crotty’s tin whistle playing and Ann Droney- Kirrane’s tunes on concertina were spellbinding, Ann will be launching a CD at All- Ireland Fleadh in Ennis in August.

Táimse im chodhladh played by Neansai Ni Choisdealbha from Connemara was also poignant. A great night for “the pure drop” for sure.

Well done Paul Gallagher for inviting great musicians from Ireland to share their talents and reminding us how our trad music has served to showcase the very best in the Irish character – the ability to make enduring friends with Irish and wider community by sharing experience, talent and good humour most generously.

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