“Every time I hear Turlach Boylan play the flute, I learn something new about
singing.” – Connie Dover
I don’t know how to write a bio. When I think about playing music, I keep returning to ideas of home, honesty, comfort and solace. So perhaps I can tell you about home.
My great grandfather was a schoolteacher. To supplement his income he would rise early and haul rocks to build a town wall, using the extra money to buy a flax mill and build a solid house. He was a notoriously strong man and remained a bachelor well into middle age. But the local community conspired to match him up with the parish priest’s housekeeper, formidable in her own right, and at age fifty-nine he married and they raised five children.
I learned my music from a man called John Kennedy. I stood in his kitchen and he taught me about tunes and breath and flute and the love of music. In turn, John learned his music from a man called Hughie Surgenor, during lunch breaks in the flax mill where they worked, playing together to the rhythm of the mill machinery.
Hughie would write out the tunes on the whitewashed walls of the break room. Each year the walls would fill, then be repainted each year.
By the time I arrived, the flax mills were long gone, the casualty of a linen industry displaced by cotton and synthetics. They left their mark on the rivers, the weirs and carrys that manage the water flow. I loved the river, went fishing, felt the mythology of the salmon, symbol of wisdom and knowledge, returning each year to the headwaters where they were born; And that might be what music is for me, a pilgrimage back to the source, a reminder that my roots are still with me.
“I recently heard a great musician speaking passionately of “the tenderness, the poetry, the softness, the lyrical, contemplative nature” of Irish traditional music. It is a pleasure to hear these wonderful qualities expressed so elegantly and eloquently in Turlach Boylan’s playing.” – Kevin Burke