Willie Clancy and The Trigg Morris Side Visit to Miltown Malby, May 1972.
I told this story to my piping friend Jeff Byrne in the summer of 2006, and a version of it may have been published by him elsewhere. Indeed I have told the story many times, and doubtless have forgotten and distorted details. But Jeff's interest led me to check the memories of friends in
I was the first musician of the Trigg Morris Men, a revival side formed in 1971 in central
As an enthusiastic young Morris Side we were eager to show off our own music; but we were enormously enthusiastic worshippers at the alter of all traditional music. Visualize seven Morris dancers, a Morris musician plus two wives and a girlfriend in a Ford Transit minibus, travelling by ferry from
The encounter with Willie Clancy came the next day. I wrote some notes at the time which I transcribe verbatim for, though unpolished, they carry an immediacy. This was written on Wednesday the
"Last night [
Vic, Roger, and I have all added further recollections, albeit recalled some 34 years after the event. Vic remembers that, when the minibus stopped beside them in Miltown Malby, the two girls were playing a game with two balls bouncing against the house wall. They might still remember the occasion, as the Morris men were in full costume (for the anticipated ceilidh); and the occasion was only months before Willie Clancy’s untimely death. Roger recollects that the man referred to as “Farmer” was named Michael, and that Willie jokingly called him his ‘manager’. Old “Farmer” preceded his story by protesting that these English youngsters wouldn’t understand him. I found it hard going but I think I got the gist; one of those stories where you wake and find it was all a dream. I thought the landlord had seemed reluctant to open up the pub until told what had prompted us to knock him up, whereupon he sprang to. We soon had quite a throng in the back kitchen, though the pub had appeared shut for the evening. I concluded that someone had spread the word that Willie Clancy was to going to play, which someone told me was a rare event by then. It seemed that the enthusiasm of our visiting Morris Side had proved sufficient to stimulate Willie into playing. Vic visualizes Lynch’s bar as having two counters to walk between; on one side a bar, and on the other groceries. He also recalls that upon entering the empty bar off the dark street it was lit by a single light, which was a brand new electric sign on the Guinness pump, connected to the ceiling rose by a long piece of flex. Roger recollects that, as the Trigg Men drove through Miltown Malby the next day, they saw Willie Clancy and his wife in a throng of others dressed for church, (or possibly a funeral).
This story is but a small thing in terms of all that is recorded elsewhere of Willie Clancy’s life and music; one evening of music and dancing in the last nine months of his life. However, it is an unforgettably vivid memory for most of us who were there, and testifies to how Willie Clancy was appreciated, both locally and internationally.