’s Declan Lynch on Faoi Lan Cheoil


By Declan Lynch

Sunday November 30 2008

…SO I should draw attention to a few people who are engaged in good work on our behalf. Two programmes in a row, in fact, on TG4, showed all the signs of work that was not just well done, but that needed to be done.

Then TG4 showed Faoi Lan Cheoil, which performed the important public service of bringing us inside the castle of Jeremy Irons in West Cork, to see him playing the fiddle. Or at least learning how to play it, in the diddley- aye style.

Irons was giving access-all-areas to his teacher, Caoimhin O Raghallaigh, and he came across as a most engaging fellow. But while a trip to Miltown Malbay to the Willie Clancy Summer School was fair enough in the making of a traditional Irish music celebrity reality show, some would question the validity of a trip to New Mexico in that context.

O’Raghallaigh went there, to visit Irons on the set of the major motion picture Appaloosa. Yes, it might raise eyebrows in the offices of the Comptroller and Auditor General to see the words “New Mexico” on that itinerary, but it was justified on the grounds that it was actually very interesting to see Jeremy Irons relaxing in his trailer out there in the desert. In fact, I can’t recall ever seeing a movie star relaxing in his trailer before.

And even though he was making a movie, crucially, he was still learning how to play the fiddle. He was nearing the end of the journey which would enable him to stand up at the Fiddle Fair Festival in Baltimore (Co Cork) with Martin Hayes and friends and play a few tunes. Money well spent there.