Each July, the historical coastal village of Carrig-on-Bannow reverberates to the sounds of the Phil Murphy Weekend. This sleepy, three-pub town awakens and smells the alluring aroma of tunes wafting through the warm summer air.
For this year's festival, which celebrates a quarter of a century of top class acts descending on the village of Carrig-on-Bannow, we bring you a line-up to match any festival:
Tommy Emmanuel — one of the planet's greatest guitarists Sharon Shannon — accordian player supreme Noel Hill, Frankie Gavin & Brian McGrath — what a trio Lúnasa — what a band The Hamilton County Ramblers — a wonderful bluegrass band from Chattanooga, Tennessee Donal Clancy — great singer & guitarist and son of the legendary Liam Clancy
We have workshops, sessions and the 6k "Trip to Cullenstown Road Race" on Sunday morning at 11.30 am plus much more.
The village of Carrig, the venue for the Phil Murphy Memorial Weekend, lies towards the centre of the historic and picturesque parish of Carrig-on-Bannow. The known history of Bannow can be traced back to pre-Christian times.
Bannow lived its most famous moment with the coming of the Normans. In 1169, the first Norman Invasion force landed in the well protected harbour at Bannow Bay. It was on this spot that the conquerors built the town of Bannow, which was a thriving European port and market city by Middle Age European standards, until late in the 16th century, when the silting of the harbour stopped the coming and going of the frequent ships.
Thus the city did not just die, but gradually disappeared as well, giving rise to the many legends that have grown in the area about Bannow’s buried city. A strong cultural sense matches this historic drama of the area with many preserved castles, stone coffins and the like spread throughout the area.
An interesting shrine to the locals’ love of the ocean is the well known Sea-Shell house, with its wonderful designs, that can be found on the cliff, facing south to the sea at Cullenstown. The cultural awareness of the area come full circle over the past quarter of a century with the strong revival in the local schools, and with teenage groups, of traditional Irish music and dancing.
Phil Murphy, Ballygow, Bannow, who died on 23rd July 1989, was one of the best traditional musicians in the country. Phil played the harmonica, or mouth organ as he preferred to call it, from when he was about nine or ten years old. He learned tunes from local musicians who included Henry and Statia Bowe, neighbours of Phil's. Phil was very much involved with many mummings sets throughout the country all during his life and performed with the Carne Mummers. He was All-Ireland Champion three times.
Two of Phil's four sons, John and Pip, carry on the tradition of harmonica playing. Phil has also passed on his musical knowledge to two young neighbours in Ballygow, Paul and Alan O'Dwyer. Just three weeks before Phil's death, the three Murphys recorded an album together. This album is on the Claddagh label titled The Trip to Cullenstown. You can listen to it for free here on Spotify.
Apart from his own music, Phil was equally well known for his cosmopolitan tastes when it came to other ethnic styles of music. His love of folk song and dance as a universal art form, was ever evident in the warmth of his sincerity to preserve the old and progress with the new. We know that Phil would have enjoyed the wide range of music on offer in our programme, and we are confident that this event will prove to be a memorable one for the entire assemblage.
Photo Credits: (1) Phil Murphy Weekend, (2)-(3) Phil Murphy (by Phil Murphy Weekend); (4) Tommy Emmanuel, (5) Frankie Gavin, (6) Sharon Shannon, (7) Dónal Clancy (unknown/website).