Last updated
December 18, 2007


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Lucy Farr (1911-2003)
By Pauline Jackson

Lucy Farr, nee Kirwan, was born in Ballinakill near Loughrea, Co. Galway. She was born in 1911, the third oldest of seven children. Her father Martin played the melodeon and flute and her Aunt Margaret played the fiddle.
Lucy’s farmhouse was always full of music, in fact it was the only one in the area to have a barn big enough to hold dances. Ballinakill and its surrounding area, had plenty of musicians including the famous Ballinakill Ceili Band.
Lucy heard players of all kinds during her early days and she and her brother and sisters were encouraged to sing for visitors and to join in with the sessions. She was taught to play fiddle by Paddy Doorey, a neighbour, and Jack Mulkere who used to cycle over to the National School in Ballinakill to give lessons, at the cost of £1 a term.
In 1936 Lucy left home to train as a nurse and went to South East London. She was very homesick and gradually stopped playing the fiddle, at least in public, for several years.
She married in 1940 and three children soon followed. The pressure of her job and bringing up her children took precedence over a social life and playing the fiddle for many years.
It was in 1956 ,when her sister Anne came to live in London, that Lucy’s interested in music was rekindled. Anne encouraged her to play again and they both enjoyed regular visits to the Irish music pubs all over London. The birth of Comhalthas Ceoltoiri Eireann also provided a stimulus. Lucy even found herself on the committee of the local branch.

Playing again
The next highpoint was a visit to London of The Leitrim Ceili Band. Lucy was reintroduced to its members and started to practice and play with interest again. At this time she played along with such great musicians as Paddy Carthy and Tony Molloy,both from Loughrea. It was around 1959 that Lucy became a regular player at The Bedford Arms pub in North London. She played too in various bands, The Four Courts and The Rakes being two of the most well-known.
In 1965 on one of her holidays to Loughrea, she again met up with Paddy Carthy , Tony Molloy and John Joe Forde, and with these players and many others, often played in the sessions in Moylan’s pub in the centre of the town. The pub is still there, but it is alas, now without the music .
Lucy continued to play with The Rakes and was involved in sessions for many years until her move to Berkshire. Her tape entitled Heart and Home was released in 1991 to coincide with her 80th birthday .
While being very modest about her playing, she continued to play and swop tunes and tapes with students and musicians from all over the world. By the turn of the century she was one of the few ‘old’ players still around with this vast wealth of tunes and the sweet playing style of East Galway. Her good humour and generosity of spirit enabled her to share them with all that were interested.
Lucy Farr died on January 7, 2003, and is buried in her native Co Galway.


Discogrophy
Heart and Home
(tape) 1991
Paddy in the Smoke, Topic, 1997. (four tracks, with Bobby Casey and Jimmy Power).

 

 


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