Author: James Wilson

This one recalls the feeling and spirit of playing at a session in Ireland, Corvallis, Oregon, or wherever one can find people interested in traditional music. I got my taste from my father Arthur James Wilson from Mayo who played one-row button accordion. Although I went through my rock phase, I returned to the pleasures of jigs and reels and am happy to take out my guitar, mandolin, or tin whistle wherever, and whenever, I can.

CEILIDH: Go raibh míle maith agat, mo athair
St. Patrick’s, 2009

In the corner snug of an oak-paneled room – The Crane – sit six musicians there because each
other is there for one sole purpose – the tunes. The last of the group arrives, sits, and
removes the fiddle from his well-worn case. Life goes on, and conversations babble, as the
sounds of “The Butterfly” begin to lilt. Tin whistle, fiddles, flute, guitar, bodhran, and the box
join together, and another night at the seisún gets into the swing of things. They come from
Ballina, Galway, Cork, Corvallis, Donegal, and California, but they all know the tunes as if born
with them in their very souls…
“A little ciunas fer da lads,
folks. Anyone fer a pint?
Aon, dÓ, trí,…
Ceathair, cúig, sé…”

“Oi’ll have da usual, Mick.
Da corner’s fer da lads, is it?
Fine. Oi brought me whishle tonoight, Paddy.”

The tunes on the tip of my tongue
This works for a fierce flutist
Or a tin-whistler hell-bent on jigs and reels.

Triplets fly from dancing fingers
One to another amidst a musical storm
Heaven-sent from the lands where tunes come.

My Dad, an accordion man from Mayo
Played his black and gold melodeon
Nightly until his fingers could move no more.

The tip of the bodhran, lilt of a song
Sung for centuries in pubs and crawls
Mix well with mandolin, fiddle, and stout.

The notes carry more than just simple sounds
To those who listen, to those who hear
Connecting us to the land we were born to know.

My Dad, a box player from Ballintain
Could do more with that one-row Hohner
Than I will do in a lifetime of money gigs.

“Da jigs da ting you know, Mick.”
“Nothin’s more real dan a reel, Harry.”
“Another pint, Seamus?”
“Sure an’ I don’t mind if I do. Ahh, that’s grand.”

Beatha gan ceol cosúil
Bheith lighthe I ndearmad
Life without music is like
Being in Limbo