Farrelly's musical legacy
harp that once through Taras Hall the soul of music
shed now hangs as mute on Taras walls as if that soul
were fled - so wrote the poet, Thomas Moore, in the
long ago. Little did the poet dream then that haunting melodies,
such as his own, would emanate from Royal Meath in the generations
to follow-melodies which would bring joy and elation to
the Irish race both at home and abroad.
I read recently that the Band of An Garda Siochana had given
one of its many outstanding performances in the parish of
Crosserlough, Co Cavan. This brought to mind memories of
days marching and performing drills to the rhythm of the
Garda Bank in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, away back in 1945.
Among my comrades then were brothers, Frank and PJ Farrelly,
who hailed from Ardglassen, Crossakiel, Co Meath. Both have
since gone to their Eternal Rewards, but it is another of
a Farrelly clan from Co Meath who is the subject of this
article-namely, Richard (Dick) Farrelly.
It was obvious to all of us, recruits, that the Garda Bank
was, indeed, a very small section of the Force as a whole,
but containing gifted musicians, instrumentalists, singers
etc. However, within the Force and not attached to the Band
were many more endowed with the gift of music. One such
was the late Richard (Dick) Farrelly.
Dick was a native of Kells, Co Meath. He was born in 1916
and 1939 joined an Taca Síochána when aged
23. Later, he and his comrades were absorbed into an Gárda
Síochána and became fully-fledged members.
Stationed first at Pearse Street, Dublin for a number of
years, he was promoted to Sergeant rank and transferred
to Administration (Financial Branch) in Dublin Castle. He
was responsible for what was known as The Payments
Office dealing with banks and making payments to his
colleagues. While serving in the Castle he was allowed to
wear plain clothes.
In his youth, the late Mr Farrelly studied piano and wrote
songs and poetry. Later it was he who, on one of his journeys
between Kells and Dublin, composed the tune Isle of
Innisfree which the Film Director, John Forde, adopted
as the theme tune for his famous film The Quiet Man
which was made at Cong, Co Mayo and parts of Co. Galway,
in 1953. Then stationed at Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, which is
approximately six statute miles from Cong, I knew many of
the characters involved in the making of the film, including
the late Paddy ODonnell (train driver) and the late
Joe Mellotte, The Neale, who acted as a stand-in for John
Wayne on occasions. I recall Maureen OHara attending
mass in Ballinrobe. It was little wonder that I heard the
Isle of Innisfree sung and played so often,
and learned of the goings-on in Cong.
Earlier, in 1948 Dick Farrelly had success with a song he
wrote for a British singer, Anne Shelton - If you
ever fall in love again. He is also remembered for
songs on the Waltons radio programmes, such as The
Cottage by the Lee. Patrick OHagan won a Castlebar
song contest with one of Dicks songs - Theres
only one Killarney - Joseph Locke recorded another
of his songs - The Rose of Slievenamon. His
last song was we dreamed our dreams which was
taken up by the Furey Brothers and Davy Arthur in 1988.
In all, he wrote over two hundred poems and songs.
Dick Farrelly retired from An Garda Síochana in 1977.
He died on the 11th August 1990, and is buried in Shanganagh
cemetery, where a monument to his memory now stands. At
the time of his death he was survived by his wife, sister,
brother, three daughters and two sons.
It is believed that one of his sons, Gerard, discovered
a number of old hand-written manuscripts of songs after
his fathers death. With singer Sinéad Stone,
they have brought out a new CD which is called Legacy
of a Quiet Man. This is available from Gael Linn or
from Gerard himself, and will serve to perpetuate the memory
of a great composer.
Guest musicians include Gerards brother, guitarist
Richard M Farrelly, who has worked with Doleres Keane and
Van Morrison. Also featuring are Colum Sands (of the Sands
family) and Brendan Monaghan of the Phil Coulter Orchestra.
Gerards musical backing is creative and sensitive.
Sinéad Stone adds the colour of her truly exquisite
voice to each song. From heartfelt ballads such as Annaghdown
and the Isle of Innisfree through the catchy
number People like you and me and the last number
previously mentioned. We dreamed our dreams
written by Dick Farrelly shortly before his death, the collection
captures an unforgettable performance which salutes the
legacy of a quite man. The album was recorded in the Farrellys
home, situated in Bayview Avenue, near North Strand and
borrowed mattresses were used as acoustic insulation. Gerard
played the piano in the recording session. The sound engineer
was Billy Robinson, who had worked with Mary Black and Altan.
The disc was successfully cut.
Reverting to the film The Quiet Man which was
adapted from Maurice Walshs book Green Rushes
set in the 1920s, the theme song Isle of Innisfree
was recorded by Bing Crosby and became an international
hit. It is widely accepted that the movie could not have
been the success that it was without The Isle of Innisfree.
Sadly, even though the tune was played eleven times throughout
the film, neither Richard Farrellys name, nor the
name of the composition appeared in the production credits.
Victor Young was credited with the penning of the full orchestration
of the musical score.
All those who even knew Richard Farrelly, affectionately
known as Dick agree that he was an unassuming
and quiet gentleman. Solas na bhFlaitheas dá anam
According to an article submitted by Garda Peter M Kenny
to a Garda Magazine, Det. Garda Joseph Cummiskey from Kells,
Co Meath retired 15/5/1988, was interested in music and
singing since his childhood days, took part in several Gilbert
& Sullivan productions in his native Kells. Joes
claim to fame is that shortly after Dick Farrelly composed
the Isle of Innisfree he gave the original manuscript
to Joes sister Vera, for Joe to perform the song in
public for the very first time. He sang it for the first
time on 17th March, 1953, in the Vincent de Paul Hall in
Ive met some folks who say that Im a dreamer
and ive no doubt theres truth in what they say.
But sure a bodys bound to be a dreamer when all the
things he loves are far away.