Newspaper preview of Frankie Gavin and De Dannan playing at Abbeyfeale on 30th April.
Frankie Gavin, left and De Danann
“Going to the Fleadh in Ennis last year, and I am going again this year, the standard of traditional playing is extraordinary,” he said.
And he is looking forward to the Frankie Gavin and De Danann celebrity concert in Abbeyfeale on Sunday night. He last played in Abbeyfeale in 2010.
“We had a great time there, It’s a great festival,” he said.
There is a change in the line-up since then but Frankie promises a lively, upbeat session.
“We play pretty fast. Music is supposed to be dance music I am fond of a bit of speed myself,” said the man who is in the Guinness Book of Records as being the fastest fiddler in the world.
“It is exciting music. A lot of people play slow and that is fine too. But there is more excitement in what we do, I hope.”
But Frankie, one of the founder members of the iconic trad band De Danann in the 1970s, believes our national broadcaster RTE should be doing more for Irish music.
“ You get a lot of it on TG4, on Raidio na Gaeltachta and every evening on Clare FM from 7pm to 9pm, and I’m sure Kerry Radio too. But we need more.”
And he described the positioning of Irish music programmes on RTE radio evening programmes as “tokenism” and argued there should be more programmes, particularly on television.
“It is all very well to be doing a one-off country music programme. But there are hundreds of thousands of people with strong connections to Irish traditional music.
“And there is nothing on RTE, radio and television, apart from the occasional concerts with Peter Browne. Or Ceili House on Saturday night.”
“The positioning of that is tokenism,” he declared.
“It is time that all changed. I would hope the new director general, Dee Forbes, will take that into consideration.”
“People come into this country to hear traditional Irish music. There should be a station that plays traditional music all the time.”
The celebrity concert featuring Frankie Gavin and De Danann will take place in Coláiste Ide agus Iosef starting at 8pm on Sunday night and is expected to be one of the highlights of this year’s Fleadh by the Feale.
The Fleadh kicks off this Thursday night with a Gathering Night of music and dance, and continues this Friday evening with a busking competition that is expected to attract scores of young players and a ceili.
Master-classes will take place on Saturday and a Youth Trad Session on Saturday afternoon featuring the master-class students is a new item on this year’s programme.
Another first will be the Trad Disco on Saturday night.
Throughout the weekend, there will be free, open-air live music in the Square as well as a pub trail of music sessions.
A platform will be laid in the Square on Monday afternoon for a genuine “cross-roads” ceili and Monday evening will see one of the most unique elements of the Fleadh, the senior bone-playing competition.
Great concert at Ballydehob Trad Festival with Frankie and the band playing for a couple of hours.
This has just appeared on Facebook – Sounds intriguing
Join Frankie Gavin and De Dannan on a Musical Tour to Ireland – September 6th to 16th 2017. Drive down the Wild Atlantic Way to experience the most breath taking ocean views in Europe. Tour Galway, my home town, where majestic swans greet you in the bay. Join us in Bantry to enjoy the musical legacy of Chief O’Neill as we bring the best contemporary musicians to West Cork for a packed program of concerts, workshops and sessions. Enjoy the beautiful fishing village of Dingle, the giddy heights of the Cliffs of Moher, the Connemara region, Sky Road, Kylemore Abbey and much more. Frankie and De Dannan will be performing in each location, but don’t be surprised if there is an impromptu jam session on the road. There will be music and merriment, conversation and craic around every corner. Contact Caddie Tours for more details toll free 866 387 6759
Frankie Gavin playing a solo gig at Dublin’s Tradfest on 29th January
Frankie Gavin and De Dannan have announced that the premier of the Grace Kelly Symphonic Suite will be performed on October 29, 2017 in The Prince Rainier Auditorium, Monaco played by The Monaco Philharmonic Orchestra. Frankie and the band will be featured throughout the work in the Presence of His Serene Highness, Prince Albert of Monaco. The entire suite is being written by Frankie Gavin himself.
De Danann / De Danann (Polydor 1975)
Just got hold of a copy of this 1975 LP. Here for interest are the sleeve notes:
The SHOP now contains details of second hand recordings by De Dannan and by Frankie Gavin. The price for these will depend on their availability at any one time and on their condition. Please email me for details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Currently the following second hand CDs are for sale:
• The Best of De Dannan (1987)
• Half Set in Harlem (1991)
• Celtic Collections: De Dannan (1996)
• Welcome to the Hotel Connemara (2000)
• Fierce Traditional – Frankie Gavin (2001)
• Ireland’s Harvest – Frankie Gavin / Joe Derrane / Brian McGrath (2002)
• Live And On Location – Frankie Gavin DVD (2007)
• Great photo just appeared on Facebook: Aidan Coffey with Frankie Gavin, Colm Murphy and Alec Finn.
• Just added some photos of Florence gig to the Gallery
September 27 2016
New gig on November 24 for Frankie and De Dannan at brand new Irish music venue in Dublin: Magistorium.
September 23 2016
Frankie looking cool near the Norwegian tour bus taking him and presumably the rest of the band to their gig in Oslo.
August 24 2016
This video has just appeared on Facebook. Must be late 1970s or early 1980s.
Just received this poster for FG & DD gig on 21st May. Sounds like a great weekend – and fantastic value for money.
Loads of new gigs for 2016, just listed – here.
Found a series of videos made at the Doolin Festival in February. Here’s one:
The three tunes are The Black Rogue Jig / The Donegal Reel / The Dawn
Just received – the poster for the Baltimore Fiddle Fair – May 5th – 8th. Great stuff.
Soirée Irlandaise à Givenchy
Frankie Gavin was invited to the 20th anniversary of Itzhak Perlman’s In the Fiddler’s House in Boston.
In the photo left to right: Andy Statman, Frankie Gavin, Itzhak Perlman and Tommy McCarthy
Just discovered this 2014 conversation between Frankie Gavin and Henry Wymbs on a BBC radio programme. It’s worth a listen here
Frankie Gavin, Noel Hill and Arty McGlynn played Finbarr Dwyer’s / The Ivy Leaf / Molly Bawn on a a programme broadcast on 25th February on Radio RTE 1 Na Gaeltachta Their set is on at about 1.27.
The band played at Sheeran’s in Coolrain
Just found this poem inspired by Frankie Gavin and Paddy Canny playing together. It’s one of several poems inspired by traditional Irish musicians in the collection Session by Pete Mullineaux. You can watch Frankie Gavin and Paddy Canny playing together here on YouTube.
Frankie Gavin and De Dannan are appearing at The Russell Memorial Weekend Festival at 2 pm on February 27th at the Russell Cultural Centre in Doolin. Full details here.
Frankie Gavin has featured on two recently released CDs – both purchasable here.
• The Master’s Return, A Tribute to Paddy Killoran (Frankie Gavin, Malachy Bourke, Brian Bourke) got a great review in Living Tradition magazine.
This recording was also reviewed here in the Irish Times.
• Eire Japan – Frankie Gavin (fiddle), Paddy Keenan (uillean pipes, Junji Shirota (guitar,banjo). A wonderful CD recording during the trio’s recent trip to Japan, mainly Irish traditional, but with one or two tracks with a Japanese influence.
January 30 Roscommon Arts Centre
Prior to the band’s concert at Roscommon Arts Centre, the Roscommon People published this portrait of the band’s singer, Bernadine Casserly.
A rising star – Bernadine Casserly follows in illustrious footsteps
Bernadine Casserly is a woman on the way up in the Irish music world. The young Frenchpark native is a former ‘Roscommon’s Got Talent’ winner and is well-known as a wedding singer all over the West of Ireland. However, her career has moved up several notches since Christmas of 2014 after she got a call to join the world-renowned Irish band De Dannan as their lead vocalist.
Bernadine’s predecessors as lead vocalist with De Dannan include Dolores Keane, Mary Black, Maura O’Connell and Eleanor Shanley. Now she is gigging with De Dannan around the country and internationally. She still sings at weddings and continues to work at the local crèche in Frenchpark. Bernadine is an incredibly busy woman but she made time recently to chat to Seamus Duke…
Bernadine Casserly (28) is very relaxed and laid-back and a brilliant interviewee – a young woman who is friendly and outgoing and extremely grounded.
When I met her at her home in Frenchpark last weekend she explained how she comes from a musical household – although she didn’t start singing until she was well into her teenage years.
“I was never a singer at all growing up. I played the fiddle for years and years. My grandfather taught me my first few pieces on the fiddle. I was about eight or nine when I started.”
Lessons followed, and they in turn were followed by Bernadine attending the odd music session. She didn’t take part however, preferring to play her music at home. A “little band” was formed in the Casserly household!
“I played the fiddle and tin whistle and my sister Denise did the singing. I never sang, but everyone in the family played music so that was where the interest in music came from.”
In fact Bernadine, who has a truly magical voice, never really started singing until she was about 16. “I was in school in St Nathy’s in Ballaghaderreen. We had a Carol Service every year. One day I went into school with no homework done and I was in trouble! There was solo practice going on so instead of getting into more trouble I went to the solo practice. I ended up singing solo with the choir – and that’s where it started. So it was by accident really!”
Bernadine began to take singing seriously when she was told that she had a talent for it.
“I was singing in choirs and in the Church and then I started doing vocal training down in Sligo.” After a couple of years Bernadine was now working in Frenchpark, but her singing talent came to the fore again when she won a major talent show which was held in Roscommon town eight years ago.
‘Roscommon’s Got Talent’ was run over a number of weeks and generated huge interest locally. “It was a huge thing. For eleven weeks I never left this house except to go and compete. I used to come home from work at lunchtime and practice. It was practice, practice, practice. It was a huge learning experience for me because it got me used to performing in front of people. That was the first time that I got up on stage and started performing on a formal basis.”
Having completing her education, Bernadine began working with Frenchpark & District Childcare, where she still works. “The music kind of took a back seat but gradually I went back to it.” This talented singer was never going to go without performing too long and soon her voice was in demand at weddings. “People started contacting me to sing at weddings. It was word of mouth mostly. I never really promoted myself or anything like that. A friend of my sister was getting married and she asked me to sing – and it took off from there.”
Bernadine explains that there is a protocol involved in singing at a wedding. “I have a set-list of songs so I guide the couples who come to me. There is certain criteria that you have to follow for Church music but if the couple want certain pieces I will learn them for the day. I am doing a lot of weddings now, mostly around the West of Ireland.”
So, with Bernadine singing away at weddings and making a name for herself, a huge new break arrived prior to Christmas 2014. “In December I got a text from Frankie Gavin. My sister works in the Galway Clinic and Frankie had told a friend of hers that their singer in De Dannan was leaving the band. She showed Frankie a video of me on YouTube and he contacted me as a result.”
Bernadine met up with Frankie and by January she was playing her first gig for De Dannan, down in Clare.
“It was a real nervous time because I had two days to learn a load of new songs. The band is so well-known that you have to make sure you don’t mess up the words because at their gigs everyone in the audience knows them!
“It’s busy enough but not crazy with De Dannan and that suits me because I am working here in Frenchpark and I have the weddings too.
“We are doing three or four gigs a month with De Dannan at the moment and I have to say I love it. We were over in France recently in Lille and played at a festival – that went well. The line-up now is Frankie Gavin, Colm O’Cuiv from Kilkenny on guitar and Dan Bodwell on bass and Barry Brady, who is a Roscommon man. He plays the box.
“Actually we are opening the Boyle Arts Festival on the 24th of July and we are really looking forward to that. It can be very busy. For instance, recently I was singing at a wedding in Leitrim and I had to be in Kerry that night for a gig, so that’s what can happen.” Bernadine loves all sorts of music.
“I love listening to classical music to be honest and I love singing classical stuff too. I would have trained in that style. And of course I love traditional music. It’s what I was reared on and I am back playing the fiddle now again too!”
So what does the future hold for Bernadine? “I’m gaining experience all the time. I would love to do something on my own in time, with a band. Singing with De Dannan is a level up from anything I did before and I have a few ideas about what I should do. I am happy enough at the moment but I need to settle on what direction I want to go. I like the De Dannan style of music. I love being with De Dannan at the moment. They are very good to me and I get on great with them.”
Bernadine is doing a lot of travelling all around the country but she still lives at home with her parents Brian and Mary. She has two brothers and two sisters. “I have been working with Frenchpark & District Childcare for eight years. They have been brilliant to me…and very understanding with regard to time off for weddings and gigs. Only for them I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing at the moment. We will see what the future brings. But it’s going well at the moment” she concluded.
A cup of tea and two beautiful scones made by Bernadine’s mother, Mary, finished the evening off in Frenchpark.
I left the company of Bernadine Casserly with a clear sense that there is only one direction in which she is heading – and that’s upwards. It was a pleasure to meet her.
Note: Bernadine has released a single, ‘Calico Sky’, which is a reworking of an old Simon and Garfunkel song. Bernadine’s single is receiving a lot of airplay on radio stations around the country. She intends to release another single over the next few weeks.
Written by Seamus Duke, July 2015