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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:47 pm 
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Just noticed on NPU & Custy's, there's a new book out "Out of Darkness, the blind piper of Inagh" by Howard Marshall. I hadn't heard anything about this. Anyone get a copy yet? I can't seem to find much info about it. Could anybody give any details of the work?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2016 3:00 am 
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It was launched with a concert in Inagh, to coincide with the fleadh (although originally scheduled for a Willie week launch) but has been in the making for some time. The postage will cost you, it's a block of a book.

A must have if you're into that sort of thing, I suppose. I haven't finished reading yet so I'll refrain from further comment.


Website (the writer of the book said last week the site is going to be further developed with more images and sound to be added in the near future, as well as the option of directly ordering the book from their site)

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:27 am 
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On the off chance anyone will find themselves in Clare, the book will see yet another launch in Ennistymon Courthouse Gallery on Nov 15th.

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Book Launch and Talk - Out of Darkness:
The Blind Piper of Inagh

6pm, Tuesday 15th November

Howard Marshall had heard reference to Garrett Barry many times in local music circles. With a passion for Irish music and history, and interest piqued, he went seeking information about this great piper who had influenced the likes of Willie Clancy and whose music is still evident in the tunes of today. Join Howard to hear about his journey to discover the life of this extraordinary musician. With photographs by Ben Taylor.


If you plan on going, best check with them to confirm the time for the launch. 6 on a Tuesday seems a bit odd and I wouldn't rule out a typo.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:39 am 
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I just finished this. It’s a big handsome showy book, with lovely but not surprising photos, on nice paper. The binding isn’t great—it appears not to be sewn—but it’s a beautifully designed book. Well researched, mingling what few facts are verifiable about Barry with general Irish history and lots of recollections to give a seemingly good sense of the musical culture of Clare in Barry’s lifetime. Marshall is especially interested in why O’Neill never mentions Barry. The answer isn’t clear. It might be that O’Neill, who didn’t drink, was put off by Barry’s dissipation, although O’Neill often mentions other musicians who drank a good deal. Marshall suggests that Barry’s memory was not carried to America, because immigration from west Clare declined. This might be true, but he offers no evidence for it.

I think it’s a good piece of work, although I could have probably done without many of the contemporary photos, which are a little bit like very well done calendar photos. That is, from a purely utilitarian perspective they don’t add a lot of information and suggest that Garret Barry lived in a world of perpetually dramatic skies and warm golden sunsets. The line between memory, fact and myth is deliberately blurred, as it might be in a film. If this is your thing you’ll enjoy it. The hard hearted historian in me wanted less atmosphere and more fact.

But I learned a lot and enjoyed reading it very much. It’s clearly a labor of love


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 4:41 am 
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I think the book deliberately tries to have a footing in the realms of history and music and isn't shy of a place on the coffeetable. They probably needed to do this to make it viable. Arguably the photos open the tourist book market up for it and the photos also nicely set the scene for those not familiar with the area.

Initially I had misgivings about them including shots taken at Bunratty folkpark and using Portumna workhouse as a stand in for the long demolished Ennistymon one but if you look at them as having a purely illustrative, not documentary, function, a way of setting the scene, it is fine. And they are very well done. Speaking as someone who takes the odd snap and who moves around the same area daily, I think they offer a fair representation, moody cloudscapes and all. You don't want these scenes depicted on a bleak day, featureless and without contrast, with bleached out skies. It makes sense, from a photographer's point of view, to use the light to add texture and interest.

As another recently published historic treatment of a piper's life, the Gandsey book is probably the better one from a historian's perspective (and it doesn't suffer from having the size and weight of a building block) but then again, Gandsey's fame was widespread during his lifetime and his life well documented with plenty of sources to fall back on. Resulting in a very different sort of book. Overall the Barry book brings together local lore about the man quite nicely, it arguably missed a few bits and there are perhaps, for my liking, too many 'what ifs' and bouts of speculation to fill in blanks, topped up with a few bits drawn in kicking and screaming in an attempt to connect them to Barry. But it is a story that needed to be written and the book does its subject justice. Even if showing Barry as remaining a slightly elusive character. It's perhaps a shame documenting his life in a formal and systematic way wasn't done sooner, when the memory of the man was more alive or at least less distant (The attempts of Ciarán MacMathúna, Willie Clancy and Martin Talty investigating for radio were something but overall oral history from people with first, or even second, hand experience was left to die out) .

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Above: John Reid and (other) musicians with a family connection to Garrett Barry playing at the unveiling of a memorial at the site of GB's grave on a bitterly cold day just before Christmas 1999 to mark the centenary of Barry's death. Reid played his grandfather Seán's boxwood Coyne on his own, later on.

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