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MP3 Seamaisín - Joseph Harvey's Fiddle Was Left In The Rain

Heartfelt recording of traditional Irish music and songs. It captures the intimacy of this ancient music.

15 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Traditional Folk, WORLD: Celtic

Joseph Harvey''s Fiddle Was Left in The Rain A CD featuring the orginal lineup: Michael McGettrick, John
Collins, joHn Kennedy, Steve Horst, Tim Fischer, Eileen McLane, and Rosie McCormick.

Some Comments about Seamaisin and Joseph Harvey''s Fiddle was Left in The Rain

In the late 1980s, and early 1990s we gathered every Thursday in South Bend, Indiana since Mike McGettrick of county Carlow Ireland called us together with the few handwritten signs that he posted around the campus of Notre Dame: "Interested in Playing Irish Music, Reels, Jigs, Hornpipes, and Slow Airs ...etc." These are our favorite tunes from that time together.

We each played this music for our own reasons. Here is my story (well, one of them. I''ve got lots more)

In 1948, Joseph Harvey''s fiddle was left in the rain. Not on purpose, you know. It was forgotten, left hanging on the wall of the cottage where Joseph died, a cottage on Lough Este about six Irish miles north of Donegal town, an Irish mile or so off of road that runs from Donegal up throughg Barnesmore gap. The shards of that fiddle were found years later by my great-aunt Minnie Carr, years during which time the cottage had been used for storage , and then for animals, and then finally, like so many old things, abandoned.

A peasant, foreman, family man, and fiddler, Joseph Harvey was my great grandfather, and I have only recently come to know him through stories told by his daughter, my mother''s mother, my grandmother, Bridget Harvey. Donegal born in 1904, she is still with us at the age of 101.. Her father, Joseph Harvey, played a fiddle that according Bridget came into the family as a gift from the captain of a ship upon which a young Harvey, my great grandfather''s uncle Jim, had died. Jim had been a fiddle player, so the story goes, and was loved for it by the men that he sailed with. He did not own a fiddle, so he used the one owned by the captain of the ship. My grandmother told me that when Jim Harvey drown at sea the captain came to the family and gave them his fiddle, saying that no one had played it like Jimmy had. It was a fine instrument, ornate, with a rich sweet tone that matched the man.

My grandmother left Ireland after the Irish civil war which followed the establishment of the Irish free state. She says now that she wanted to go to a dance with her friends, and that they were all in Philedelphia. She arrived in America in time for the Great Depression. In the struggle to establish a life here during hard times, the tradition of playing music was lost to my mother''s family. The music that by grandmother grew up dancing to, the music that her father Joseph Harvey played night after night up one year upon year by the fire in that cottage on the shore of Lough Este in County Donegal was lost to the children of his children. I grew up singing, but no one in the extended family here in the States played the instruments. And I the child of a child of one of his children, two generation removed from the hearth and the man that, "played whenever he could." am rediscovering this music in the middle of my life. My story is not unique, nor is the unspeakable joy of rediscovery. The children of the Irish Diaspora are, all over the world, rediscovering the music and in the music they, we, rediscover something of ourselves.

This music represents some of the music in my own personal discovery. That makes it sound important and it is, but mostly the music represents an ancient wisdom that knows that an evening spent learning a new song lasts forever, through the musician and everyone that is touched by that song as it grows and is played through the years.

In 1998 I came across an old fiddle that was being shoveled out with the trash at a Christmas in April house. It is a turn-of the-previous-century instrument that had been played so hard in its'' day that the finger board had deep grooves in it. The face was separating from the body of the instrument. I''d never played a fiddle and until that moment had not considered it. I still cannot explain what possessed me to spend $500 repairing an instrument that could not be worth half that money to anyone else. Nor can I explain why I started learning how to play an instrument that I had no interest in playing. In 1999 I found another abandoned fiddle, this time in a junk shop in Niles, Michigan. It had been there for five years, unwanted and in poor repair. It is also well over 100 years old. I was told that it was not worth fixing. I had it repaired anyway. It fits the description that my grandmother gives for Joseph Harvey''s fiddle: ornate, a mild brown, large. And to me, it''s voice suits the music. Both instruments were worked on first by Jim Bradberry and then by Indiana''s only master luthier, Richard Biggs. It seems that these old fiddles know their way home.

Bridget Harvey married Patrick Coyle.

joHn Kennedy 2004

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