Sunday 15 December 2019

Celebrating the great PJ McCall

Composer PJ McCall, who died in March of 1919
Composer PJ McCall, who died in March of 1919
At the wreath laying marking the 100th anniversary of the death of PJ McCall: Betty Fitzsimons, Marie Browne, Mary Egan, Anne Lambert, Eddie McDonald, Willie Considine, Phil Berry, Eileen Byrne, Paddy Byrne, Paddy Berry and Mairead Murray

Pádraig Byrne

While songs like 'Boolavogue', 'Follow Me Up to Carlow' and 'Kelly the Boy From Killanne' have always been permanent fixtures at sessions the length and breadth of Wexford, efforts were made to remember their talented composer last week, 100 years on from his death.

Patrick Joseph, or PJ McCall, was born in Dublin, however, he regularly spent his summer holidays in Rathangan where his mother, a Newport, hailed from. He was said to have spent a lot of time with local musicians and ballad singers in Rathangan and his aunt Ellen was said to have provided much of the raw material for a lot of his songs.

A century after his death, McCall's legacy is still there to be seen and his songs are still performed all over the country. A local group gathered at the Rathangan house McCall stayed in on Thursday and laid a wreath to remember his contribution to music. A festival bearing the name of the renowned balladeer sprang up between 1981 and 1987 in Rathangan and was the subject of many fond memories for those present.

Laying the wreath on the day was Anna Lambert, wife of the late Chairman of the Eigse PJ McCall festival Richard Lambert, and Eddie McDonnell from Clonmore in Carlow, a descendant of McCall's.

Fittingly enough, following the ceremony there was a wonderful session at Rathangan Bar, where musicians performed McCall's best known and best loved tunes.

It proved to be a great evening of entertainment and an apt way of remembering the contribution of one of the country's finest songwriters and poets.

Wexford People

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