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3 Polkas – The Weaving (Live at Limerick People’s Museum)

This lively set of polkas lies close to the heart of The Weaving. Taught by the late Seamus Begley to his daughter, Meabh, it connects the trio not only to his memory but to the West Kerry community which nurtured and supported their music from their very first meeting in summer 2022.

“We all came to West Kerry music in our own ways,” explains Owen Spafford, fiddle player with The Weaving. “Méabh Begley grew up at the heart of it all in Baile na bPoc, Cáit Ní Riain came from the musical hub that is Jim O’ The Mills in Co. Tipperary, and I from further afield in England. 

“I grew up playing Irish traditional music in Leeds, learning from Leeds-Irish fiddle player, Des Hurley, of the famed Hurley musical dynasty. Des would make the short journey down from Meanwood to Headingley where we’d sit in and listen to old records of the South Sligo fiddle greats. He’d then teach me his favourite Sligo tunes, making sure I learnt the precise bowing patterns, ornamentation and stylings that gives the music of North Connacht its distinctive flavour.  

“Throughout my teens, I was off playing in sessions across Leeds and in summer I’d make an annual pilgrimage to either Co. Sligo or Co. Leitrim to soak up some more tunes. Because the vast majority of Leeds’ Irish population historically came from North Connacht, a lot of the trad music you might hear in Leeds has a very definite Sligo feel and repertoire. So much so that when aged 14 or 15 I first heard a recording of West Kerry polkas it completely blew my mind.  

“A couple of years later in a brief opening up of borders during the pandemic, I managed to find a placement on a permaculture farm in West Kerry. I lasted all of a week before I quit and found myself staying with Séamus (RIP), Méabh and Mary Begley in Baile Na bPoc. I had some of the happiest times of my life playing music every day and learning a huge amount from Séamus and Méabh; I will always be grateful for their enormous generosity and warmth of spirit. 

“When I eventually returned to Leeds later that year, Des was horrified that I’d been corrupted by the world of West Kerry music and was now obviously a lost cause – that is until I taught him some polkas and he too got the bug. 

“The set performed in this video is comprised of 3 tunes, ‘Wooden Heart’, ‘Curragh Races’ and ‘The Lakes of Sligo’. The last one I’d like to dedicate to Des Hurley who so generously passed on his music and didn’t complain when I wandered off to West Kerry.” 

The Weaving is Méabh Begley on button accordion, Owen Spafford on fiddle and Cáit Ní Riain on piano. The trio bring together the rich musical traditions of Corca Dhuibhne, Co. Tipperary and Northern England and find their musical expression and styling from the Gaeltacht of West Kerry where they first met. Having embarked on a debut tour of Northern England last summer (as The Méabh Begley Trio), they look forward to performing across Britain, Ireland and France in 2023 with the generous support of Culture Ireland.

The Weaving on tour

You’ll find tour dates for The Weaving on the Tradfolk events calendar.