Matt Talty

INTERVIEW by Geraldine Greene on November 01, 2010
 
Interviewee
Matt Talty  
Gender
Male  
Birth Date
1923  
Area-Townland
North Clare - Kilnamona  
Parish-Townland
-  
Report Date
December 05, 2015  
 
 
Time
Description
0:00:00 – 0:04:32 
MATT’S YOUTH IN IRELAND/FAMILY/THE FARM - Matt left Kilnamona, his family, friends, farm, hurling & cross-country teams in 1947 - saddest time in his life; he talks about his school days, work as a farmer’s boy from age 15 in Kilnamona & Ruan, his family & neighbours, music & musicians in Kilnamona; his father Mickey played the concertina; Matt soaked up the music; he recalls dances in his house & other activities in his youth; he describes being back in his native home on the night prior to this recording; he says the house & farm passed onto his nephew John; he enjoyed returning after many years & seeing the view from Talty’s hill; he talks about his brother Jimmy who married & stayed on the farm.  
0:04:32 - 0:16:49 
MUSIC/HIS CONCERTINA / PLAYS SOME TUNES - Matt recalls how he soaked up the music & plays the air Inisfree’ & a jig. He describes how he remembered the tunes though he didn’t know their names; he says he gave up the concertina for 70 years until his son bought him a concertina in 2004 & then he took it up again; he tells how he saw a coffin at Ennis Cathedral on the previous day, said a prayer & then found out that the deceased person was from Kilnamona (a relation of Geraldine’s); he continues to play a reel. He now plays sessions twice a week in New York and attends musical events in New York, the Catskills music week & Boston where he saw up to 100 people playing concertinas; his family drive him to and from sessions; his wife passed away some months ago; he jokes that he “might be better than Noel Hill if he continued to play but mightn’t have a roof over his head”; he tells how people were surprised to know he played & he laughs that he didn’t know it himself; he names musicians in Kilnamona in his young days, he can remember his father playing the concertina but has no recording of him; he remembers Frank Greene (Geraldine’s grand-uncle) & Tom Hegarty (Kilfenora Ceili Band who worked on farms in Kilnamona) playing the fiddle; he says the concertina and fiddle were most popular; he says Kilnamona & Taltys were great for musical events; he plays a tune he credits to Chris Droney.  
0:16:49 - 0:21:54 
SPORTS/ RUNNING IN KILNAMONA & AMERICA - He talks about his brothers Jimmy & Peter who were great cross-country runners; Matt organised running events; he recalls runners & sportsmen from Kilnamona & events they won; he didn’t continue running when he emigrated to England; he said the team brought him back to compete but “the steam had gone out of him”; he recites names of 16 in his family; he was the smallest in his family but played his part; he talks about the biography his son wrote about him and his life; he praises Kilnamona as a great place to live with little scandals; the talks about working in America & his energy; he recalls cycling & lifting things up 20 storeys in construction trade & how fit he was then; in America, he prioritised family life & work over training & running; he knew of Mike McTigue, the Kilnamona boxer (won world title in 1932) in America Matt, didn’t meet him but attended his funeral; he recalls horse & trap to sports events & running in Kilnamona; he recalls the Kilnamona team’s challenge to the Miltown Malbay team in the All-Ireland; he recalls runners from Kilnamona, especially John Rynne; he recalls being in school with John O’Donoghue (also recorded for Cuimhneamh an Chlair).  
0:21:54 – 0:22:33 
FILM - Matt recalls the 1949 film made in Kilnamona when Henry Greene’s wife Mary (Geraldine’s grandmother) & Matt posed for photos.  
0:22:33 – 0:22:58 
SCHOOLING IN ENNIS & WORK LIFE/BUSINESS IN USA - He attended the technical school in Ennis and learned carpentry; he speaks about his plastering skills & business; he was renowned & in demand for his renovation work in bars; he owned 6 bars in New York.  
0:22:58 - 0:23:26 
CUAIRD - He recalls going on cuaird to O’Donoghue man in Ruan & refers to society’s view of the man who lived in the “cottage”.  
0:23:26 - 0:27:10 
MORE ABOUT MUSIC & CONCERTINA MUSICIANS - Matt speaks about Chris Droney & Paddy Murphy, concertina players from Clare - he met them at the Catskills Irish festival, upstate New York; he heard Paddy Murphy, Steam McTigue & local musicians in Inagh; people danced local Caledonian set; he recalls all his family danced; 1 set fitted in their kitchen – dancers took turns; Matt only one of siblings to play; his father Mickey played concertina; he mentions some musicians did not have the price of instruments; he mentions Gerdie Commane, Kilnamona concertina player who played in Taltys’ house; Gerdie also did shot putt; he speaks about the acquisition & cost of concertinas; he refers to musicians playing for hunting the wren, house dances, sports days & in pubs; he mentions musicians, Peter O’ Loughlin, Kilmaley & Hegartys, Kilfenora who were farm hands in Kilnamona.  
0:27:10 - 0:28:17 
CHANGES - Matt will be 88 on his next birthday & has spent many years away from Ireland; he names some changes – big houses now V small house & big families in his youth; he laments that many houses empty & let go to ruin.  
0:28:17 - 0:28:51 
CLOTHES & FOOTWEAR - He recalls not wearing shoes; Belinda recalls how Matt often told her about his mother, a great dressmaker remaking their clothes for particular occasions such as Holy Communion or his Confirmation in Inagh.  
0:28:51 - 0:29:18 
MEMORIES OF INTERVIEWEE’S FAMILY - Matt recalls his neighbour & interviewer’s grandfather James Mescall getting married & his wife moving from Ballyea, Inagh to Kilnamona. Matt also recall’s James’s mother Honor giving sweets to him & his family.  
0:29:18 - 0:31:24 
HIS FAMILY/EMIGRATION - Matt says he had no choice but to emigrate; he moved from England to America by boat & stayed with his sister Bridie initially; he names & gives information about other siblings who emigrated; he never saw his third eldest brother Josie; he speaks of the Irish & US connection; recalls tea being got in Ireland from USA.  
0:31:24 - 0:34:43 
FARMING/WORKING FOR FARMERS - He recalls keeping the sow & her bonhams in the Talty kitchen – necessary to save each bonham to get the price of each & earn some money; he recalls working for farmers in Kilnamona; he also worked for farmers in Ruan & stayed in their homes; he worked as a farm boy & recalls always eating at the family’s table unlike a Kerry man in US who had to sleep & eat in the stable of the family he worked for; generally 1 farm boy per family; he worked for Henry Greene & his brother Frank Greene (interviewer’s grandfather & granduncle) – maybe half his time with each; he recalls women working hard both on the farm & in the house; he specifically names interviewee’s grandmother Mary Greene; he mentions food – local man often ate 5 or 6 eggs when hungry; he recalls his first wages when he worked for Henry Greene - £2.10 ; maybe £20 a year & says that he managed to save money; he mentions Talty’s Hill & jokes about the title of Drumbane House.  
0:34:43 - 0:37:44 
MATT LILTS SOME TUNES - Matt lilts a few tunes – he hadn’t done that for 70 years (his daughter Belinda had never heard him lilt before); second tune is one of Chris Droney’s; he lilted & interviewer accompanied him on a jig on the tin-whistle; when interviewee tells him of the popularity of lilting & its inclusion in the Fleadh competitions, he jokes he could enter it if he had more practice; he continues to lilt another tunes, something he hadn’t done for 70 years much to the delight of Belinda.  
0:37:44 - 0:38:38 
TALTY FAMILY INFORMATION - Matt speaks about his mother, a great dressmaker making their clothes; she was a dressmaker in town before her marriage; his grandfather died at age 40 & Matt never knew or heard much about him; his mother was Finucane from Kilnamona.  
0:38:38 - 0:38:53 
WEST CLARE RAILWAY Matt recalls being on the West Clare Railway, maybe from Lahinch or Miltown Malbay.  
0:38:53 - 0:39:48 
NEW YORK RECORDING Belinda speaks about Matt being recorded by a Memories project in New York – 2 hour interview & he played music; he jokes about being “famous” but wonders why he wasn’t heard of when working as farm boy in Clare!  
0:39:48 - 0:40:31 
EMIGRATION BY SHIP TO AMERICA - Matt emigrated to America from Southampton by ship – recalls doing exercises on the deck to prevent getting stiff; he tells how they ate & slept on board.  
0:40:31 - 0:41:08 
WHAT’S LIFE ALL ABOUT - Matt wonders what’s life all about; he worked hard & tried to do his best; he talks about greed & prestige; he & his family were poor when they were young but wanted to do well.  
0:41:08 - 0:42:12 
BOXING IN KILNAMONA/MIKE MCTIGUE - Matt recalls Mike McTigue and the Rynne family from Kilnamona who boxed in the US & USA; he regrets not seeing McTigue fight in the USA or visiting him; McTigue’s daughter was born in 1923, same year as Matt & the year McTigue won his world title; Matt thinks he may have met his daughter at McTigue’s wake.  
0:42:12 - 0:42:22 
IRISH WORDS OF GREETINGS - Matt recalls a few Irish words of greetings.  
0:42:22 - 0:43:18 
TRADE Matt talks about learning his trade & his success as a plasterer, his imitation stone & brick work; he learned his trade in the UK; he was “handy in his youth”; he recalls making hurleys.  
0:43:18 - 0:43:59 
MEMORIES & INFORMATION Matt doesn’t recall going to the creamery with his father – maybe his older brothers went; he speaks about their tandem bike; he left school at 14 or 15 to work for farmers; he speaks about the conditions that families lived in when he was young; he recalls his own family, their sleeping arrangements & providing seats at house-dances; his brother, Hughie was a blacksmith; he recites the names of the 16 in his family. He mentions two females from Kilnamona who emigrated to America.  
0:43:59 - 0:50:15 
RETIREMENT & MUSIC - Matt retired about about 5 or 6 years ago (aged 82); he had some pubs; he recalls bringing the Tulla Céilí Band & the young Wolfe Tones over to his pubs; he met Mary MacNamara, concertina player though he had little interest in it then; he recalls his son getting him his concertina when he retired & mentions a workshop with 100 concertinas at the Catskills Irish festival – he has a photo of that; now age 87, he plays music in local pubs in New York a few nights a week; he mentions those local sessions; he refers to tapes of music he bought from a Clare musician & also about another Clare musician now living in the America; he refers to changes between city life & rural life; hhe wasn’t aware of scenic Kilnamona as he grew up; he didn’t miss the country life as he was busy with work & family life.  
0:50:15 - 0:50:40 
POLITICS - Matt has little interest in politics & is not involved in any political group; he recalls closing his pub as a mark of respect when Bobby Sands died after being on hunger-strike.  
0:50:40 - 0:53:37 
AIR ‘INISFREE’ - Matt plays the air ‘Inisfree’ at the anniversary mass for Sonny Murray (West Clare concertina player who lived in Ennis) in Ennis Cathedral to great applause.  

National Development PlanLEADERThe European Agricultural Fund for Rural DevelopmentClare Local Development CompanyDepartment of the Environment Community and Local Government