The MAURICE O'KEEFFE website

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Welcome to the heart of Sliabh Luachra

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Welcome to the magical world of Sliabh Luachra in general, and MAURICE O'KEEFFE in particular.

 

Sliabh Luachra is an area in Ireland concentrated around the borders of North Cork and East Kerry as well as a bit of Limerick, famous for its distinct style of traditional irish music. It has produced many famous musicians, including such illustrious names as Julia Clifford, Jackie Daly, Padraig O'Keeffe and Johnny O'Leary, to name but a few. This site is dedicated to Maurice O'Keeffe (no relative of the aforementioned Padraig - there's a whole rake of O'Keeffes in that neck of the woods!), who was one of the living legends in the music of Sliabh Luachra.

Sliabh Luachra translates roughly as "a mountain of rushes", but is really a rolling plateau with its seven glens 'seacht ngleann Shliabh Luachra' and various peaks. Perhaps it was sliding down the sides of the hills which gave Sliabh Luachra music its heavy leaning towards slides and polkas as the mainstay of its musical style. Like the people who inhabit the region, it is music without fuss or ambiguity, full of energy, directness and a charm that always hints at peat fires, glasses of porter and whisky and a set danced around the floor of a space much too small for dancing.

This site is dedicated to one of its children - Maurice O'Keeffe. Still fiddling away at age 97, and with the musical energy of a man a quarter of his age, Maurice received many honours for his unselfish contribution to irish traditional music in general, and Sliabh Luachra in particular. Sadly, Peg - his wife of 63 years - passed away in 2011, just one week before the Festival was due to commence. Just as Peg would have wanted, the family decided not to cancel the weekend. And while understandably a bit subdued, the quality of the music was once again unsurpassed. Maurice himself passed away peacefully and also just a few short weeks before the Easter Festival on March 22nd 2017. Naturally there is no question of the Festival being cancelled - more than ever now it becomes a celebration of the life of a person who dedicated most of it to preserving the music of Sliabh Luachra for future generations.

Since 2002 there has been an annual Maurice O'Keeffe festival in his honour, held every year over the Easter weekend in his home village of Kiskeam, Co. Cork. Get to it if you can.

This year's festival promises to be a special one - it's the first one without the great man himself being there to inspire those around him. While he will be sorely missed, in reality he will not be gone. His legacy lives on in the young musicians who have grown and matured since the days of that first festival in 2002, and who now carry the torch he first lit at the tender age of ten, when he started playing. His spirit and his presence pervades the house that he lived in and in "The Shamrocks" bar - indeed, the very stones of the village are steeped in his energy.

Don't miss this special weekend if you can get there!

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