Seán McCaffrey

Interview by Tomás Mac Conmara on December 14, 2011

Gender: Male

Birth date: 1941

Area: East Clare - Feakle

Report date: September 19, 2015

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Time Description
File 1 0:00:00 - 0:03:33 INTEREST IN FOLKLORE - Seán outlines his interest in folklore and explains how it developed over the years when he came to live in Feakle. He argued that local material should be held and made available locally. He speaks about Michael Lillis from Limerick who was working locally in Feakle. Note: File 1 end with Seán's wife arrives with tea.
File 2 0:00:00 - 0:03:02 FEAKLE FOLK CLUB AND RESEARCH - Seán speaks about his friend Michael Lillis who he worked closely on developing a folk club in the parish of Feakle. Refers to Tim Moloney who put them in the direction of the county library in Clare. He speaks about his work getting material from Clare County Library and mentions people he worked with.
0:03:03 - 0:04:35 1937/38 SCHOOL'S FOLKLORE SCHEME - Speaks about the collection of material relating to the 1937/38 School's Folklore Scheme.
0:04:36 - 0:09:40 FEAKLE AND FOLKLORE - Seán speaks about his impression of Feakle and the strength of Feakle when he began collecting folklore in the parish. Reflects on the lack of 'characters' in the area today. Speaks about the change in Feakle since he arrived in 1973. Names a number of characters that he regarded as strong tradition bearers. Paddy Grogan, Martin Bane and Kevin Bane are among these. He also refers to Seán Hanrahan who according to Seán had an incredible wealth of information and retention. Refers to people from Glendree including the Riordans who were great tradition bearers.
0:09:41 - 0:11:28 BIDDY EARLY - Speaks about the tradition surrounding Biddy Early in Feakle. Speaks about a collection of material surrounding local folklore in Feakle.
0:11:29 - 0:22:22 TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC - Seán speaks about his interests in traditional Irish music and set dancing, which he got interested in when he came to Feakle. He outlines how he learnt to play traditional music and the people he played with over the years. Seán states that Joe Bane was his biggest influence in terms of traditional music. Outlines his progression through musical instruments. He bought a flute off of Dr. Bill Loughnane on one occasion. Speaks about making musical instruments and outlines in detail how he first restored and then made a fiddle. Speaks about some of the people he played with and heard play including Paddy Canny and Paddy Grogan. Speaks about traditional music in his native Monaghan and states that people would have been understated until Séán Ó Riada and Eamon de Butléir popularised it. He contrasted this with his impression of Feakle.
0:22:23 - 0:27:28 FISHING - Seán speaks about his interest in fishing around East Clare and Lough Derg and names some of the people he fished with. States that it was usually brown trout that he caught. Speaks about how he approached fishing from an analytical point of view and kept diaries of where he caught fish throughout the year. This was helpful each year when they knew when and where to be to maximise fishing. Speaks about various fishing methods that he tried over the years and explains how some of them worked including methods he developed himself.
0:27:29 - 39:45 NATIVE HOME IN MONAGHAN - Seán speaks about his early childhood and his native home in Scotstown, Co Monaghan. States that the introduction of television changed rural life in Monaghan. Recalls how when he arrived back in Feakle, he felt like he was going back in time to a period where the values were more in tune with what his native place had been like in his childhood. Seán speaks about his family background and state's that his grandson is the tenth in line traceable of the McCaffreys. Speaks about his research into this family's history. Outlines some notable stories associated with his family tree research. Seán speaks about his recollections of his grandmother briefly. He also speaks about his father Frank McCaffrey who had become a carpenter but spent a lot of time working as a farmer's helper before immigrating to England. Speaks briefly about Patrick Kavanagh and states that there wasn't much of a connection between the people of Monaghan and Kavanagh. States that his mother's family were very republican. His mother would try to ensure that her children knew about Irish history.
0:39:46 - 0:45:11 WORK AND LIFE - Seán speaks about his work life after leaving school. He outlines his progress through night school and his introduction the radio and television world. Speaks about the move from Monaghan to County Clare. He states that he would not have gone to Dublin. Speaks about the work he did for RTE in the broader area of the west of Ireland. Speaks about working through a period when technology was constantly changing.
0:45:12 - 0:47:53 GAEILGE (IRISH LANGUAGE) - Seán speaks about his interest in the Irish language. Refers to Tommy Callinan in Kilclarron who speaks Irish
0:47:54 - 0:53:12 FEAKLE FOLKLORE - Seán speaks about some aspects of Feakle Folklore and their status as stories including Cruchúir Thaigh and Biddy Early.
0:53:13 - 0:54:38 HURLING Seán speaks about his interest in hurling which only began when he came to Feakle.
0:54:39 - 0:57:51 REFLECTIONS Seán reflects on his life and his own personality and philosophy and on life in general.

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