Willie Dunne Travelling Musician

  In the 1940s there was a dance hall where John Brennan garage is now called “The Allow Ballroom” There was a weekly “practice” dancing here with admission fee of six old pence. People came from all directions on bicycles on foot and horseback. The music was provided by the “Southern Star Dance Band” which consisted of the only musicians in the area. The leader was Michael Fitzpatrick who played a piano accordion he was also owner of the Ballroom. He was accompanied by John Fehin, Violin, Patrick Horgan, Accordion, Sean O’ Mullane, Saxophone, Denis O’ Flatherty Accordion and Micheal McAuliffe (Mackie) on Drums. Michael Nagle also played the Accordion at times with them. Around the late 1940’s a travelling fiddle player called Willie Dunne played at fairs markets and matches around North Cork and West Limerick. One day at a fair in Dromcollogher where he was playing on the street. A man called Dan Brudair danced on the footpath to Willie’s Music. Dan Brudair would be Frank Brudair Grandfather of (Brudairs Bakery) when Dan finished his dance he asked Willie would teach his son to play. He agreed and this started fiddle lessons around our area of North Cork and West Limerick. Willie got a house form a local farmer in Knawhill where he lived until his death in 1954. His house which has since been renovated is near the entrance to Knawhill cemetery Willie cycled around the area with his fiddle on the carrier. He called to the houses where children wanted to learn the fiddle. He spent a half an hour. The charge was one shilling. Two children one shilling and six pence at that time a Tadhg O Sé from Ballagh, Tullylease was teaching Irish and Irish Dancing in the school in Freemount one night a week. Dan Brennan who resides in Ballybahallow attended these classes and can remember Willie playing for the ceili Dance among those whom Willie thought was Tom Galvin from Newtown who was a founder member of “The Old Shandrum Ceilí Band” He also thought Johnny Donegan who later joined the Shandrum Jimmy McCarthy, Milford who had his own famous dance Band for years. Willie Dunne also played with Nora Farrissey Knockardbane Liscarroll for crossroads dancing and concerts etc. He died in 1954 after a long illness he was buried in Knawhill Cemetery. In 1972 Fr. Twohig was appointment curate in Freemount. He and Louise Roche started teaching the Piano and Guitar in his house. Later we held concerts etc in the hall. In 1979 Con Herbert was appointed Principal of Freemount National School as soon as Con settled in his job he introduced music to the curriculum. The children got the chance to play traditional Irish music to the delight of their parents. In 1983 we came together to set up a Branch of Comhaltas. From 1984 we travelled the county to Fleadh Cheoil’s. Parents and supporters travelled by bus anywhere our musicians were performing. We covered the whole County of Cork for the County Fleadh Places like Glin, Newcastlewest, Clonmel, Tipperary, Ennistymon, Ennis, Killorglin, Waterford for the Muster Fleadh we competed in places like Listowel Clonmel, Kilkenny, Waterford, Dungarven, Sligo, Cavan, Tullamore for all Ireland Fleadhs. Our members competed in all competitions Solos Duets trios Grupaí Cheoil and Ceilí Bands they had several All Ireland success including several Grupaí Ceoil Competitions. Con continued to teach music and we had success in Scór, Readoirí, etc. over the years. We held the Co Fleadh in Freemount in 1984-1988 and 1997 and Munster Fleadh Cheoil was held in 1989. In 2007 the Allow Ceili Band won the All Ireland. This was actually the first success by a Senior Ceilí Band in Cork County. When Con retired as principal of the School he also retired from teaching music in Freemount.