By Shelley Marsden
FRIENDS and fans of Maggie Boyle are putting on an impressive benefit concert for the singer and flautist after she was diagnosed with cancer.
Maggie, who as part of The Boyle Family was a mainstay of the London Irish traditional music scene for many years, has been diagnosed with bowel cancer – and recent surgery as well as continued treatment means she has had to cancel her commitments for the next three months.
She said: “I wish to head off any alarm about my condition by saying that I will be gigging as usual throughout 2014, while also working to restore my erstwhile perfect health! I am happy, unbelievably well-supported by my family and friends, and as positive as you can imagine. I will be very busy in the coming weeks focusing on getting better.”
A host of Maggie’s music friends in London have decided to pool their talents to put on a concert to aid Maggie with her post-operative treatments and contribute to her and her family’s general welfare, especially around the Christmas period.
Taking part in the benefit gig at the South London Irish Association in Wimbledon on December 5 will be Maggie’s daughter Molly Tilston and Lee Southall of The Coral, London’s Irish trad legends Le Cheile – member Kevin Boyle is Maggie’s brother, all-Ireland champion accordionist John Bowe, Paul Brennan (pipes) & Michael O’Connell (champion accordionist).
Also taking part is Dermot Crehan (Lord of the Rings and LSO Violist), ballad singer Steve Grant, trad singer Oliver Mulligan, Maggie’s session friends The Kilkenny Cats and, over from Ireland Tommy Keane & Jacqueline McCarthy, Angela Crehan and other surprise guests yet to be confirmed.
Maggie’s brother Kevin, who is also organising the event said Maggie relies entirely on the money she earns through gigs, and she’s had to cancel everything for the next two months – it was the busiest she’d ever had lined up, so it was a big blow. If all goes well she’ll be out and performing again from next February. This benefit is to give her and her family some help, as well as with medical fees.”
He added: “It’s quite humbling to see all the support Maggie’s getting. We have people coming from Ireland, from Glasgow, Maggie’s friends and all our mutual friends on the trad scene here in London ready to play and give of their time, for nothing.
“I have a feeling we’re going to get a big crowd… it’ll be a very heart-warming night, I think. It’s funny; we’re all Londoners here, but the Irish community is the Irish community – it holds together, it always has done. There’s something very real going on.”
The Boyle Family had a popular residency at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios which was a magnet for traditional music talent in the capital, attracting amongst others the writer – and whistle player – Samuel Beckett. For the last ten years, Maggie has been living in Yorkshire and working in the folk music field there.
Maggie, whose two main teachers were her father Paddy Boyle was a native speaker from the Donegal Gaeltacht town land of Derryloughan , Nr Glenties and main tutor was Oliver Mulligan, a singer from Monaghan, resident in London .
Her work includes film soundtracks, theatre and folk circuit appearances across the world, and her vocals have appeared in the films Patriot Games and Legends of the Fall. Maggie’s voice and flute are an integral part of Christopher Bruce’s folk ballet, Sergeant Early’s Dream. Created for Rambert Dance Company in 1984, this production has also been staged by many other prestigious companies around the world.
She has worked with James Horner, The Chieftains, Incantation, Bert Jansch, Steve Tilston, John Renbourn, Eileen Jones (Gothenburg Ballet) and the Grand Acoustic Roadshow (Pauline Cato, Tom McConville , Clive Carroll).
As well as her ongoing solo performing and recording with Paul Downes and regular appearances with Grace Notes, she has established duos with Chris Parkinson, Gordon Tyrrall , Frank Kilkelly. More recent musical relationships include The Expatriate Game with Duck Baker and Ben Paley, and collaborations with jazz guitarist Gary Boyle.
Music For Maggie will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday, December 5 at South London Irish Association, 140, Hartfield Road, Wimbledon SW19 3TG . Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis by calling 0208 654 0944/07821 602532.
For more see www.maggieboyle.co.uk.