“Mrs Galvin and me met in an extirdinary way. Of course, I heard her playin’ at Feiseanna in Kilkee and she won a lot of competitions in her day too. Patsy Geary beat her in Kilkee one time in 1927 an’ I remember the tunes he played. He played a reel, jig an’ a hornpipe an’ a slow air. And Mrs Galvin had won the championship of Munster often that time at the Feis Luimnigh. But Geary beat her that time and Sean (Geary) used to say – Mrs Galvin was a big buxom woman, you know, she had a great pair of arms and big breasts, you know, she used to play with her sleeves folded up – you’ll hardly put this down or the Geary’s’ll be after me. But Sean used be boastin how Patsy, how his father beat Mrs Galvin: A wisha a gradh and the old man made the tocht leave down her sleeves!” The “Tocht” Galvin they used call her because she was such a fat woman. Of course they were great for criticisin in those days; which they are at the present day! But they wouldn’t mean it, ’twas harmless. Just by the way of makin’ a story, but you can be wary about writin’ that in!
What’ll I say now about Mrs Galvin again? Well I bought bog from her husband, Paidrigin Galvin. I bought an acre of turbary bog. It was very cheap that time, only £21. And my father thought I was robbed. But sure I think they were risin’ in the price of it every time I was goin’ over.
And then they sold me the gramophone. But we got friendly. And the sets used be there. There was great set dancers, the Penders and her sons were great set dancers. And she used to play there every Sunday night and it was grand to hear it. She played in a very purring kind of a style with a full bow and all the stings. ‘Twas kind of double stopping that she played, but she had great time and great tradition she was a beautiful sweet player. She was a great study to hear her playin’, you know. She wasn’t as brilliant as they play today but there was a lot more meaning in her music.
She knew Garret Barry very well she told me that she topped his egg. She used to top his egg (when) he stayed there. Her maiden name was Nell McCarthy – they were known as “Carthys” – from the South side, Lack or Kiladysart side, not quite Kiladysart. Her house was a rendezvous for Garret Barry because they were musical people. She had a brother, Thade Carthy, who was a great player. But she at least played four or five tunes of Garret Barry’s for me that Willie (Clancy) didn’t even hear, that Willie’s people hadn’t. Maybe they had ’em but they forgot ’em because the most of Willie’s tunes that he got was from orally … from puss-music, lilted, if you like. Lilted by the local people. The “Buck!’ McMahon was a great man at ’em and other people. And his father (Gilbert Clancy) of course, had tem, but he didn’t play all the tunes that Willie had on the flute, had on the flute, ‘cos he got them from local people. However, she had a great account of Garret Barry in lots of ways (and) the type of man he was. She had a setting of ‘The Ace and Duce of Pipering’ that he had and it was very strange setting and she had a few polkas and a few hornpipes. She was most entertaining. It was a great half way house, it was between Kilkee and Kilrush. Most people used to call there.”
John Kelly Senior, interviewed by his son, John Kelly Junior in 1979 in Capel Street.