Jerry Crilly’s final farewell

Jerry Crilly

Frank Cullen and Jerry Crilly in May 2013, at the exhibition of my urban reflection photographs organized by the Irish Fulbright Commission.

You may recall my friends Jerry Crilly and Kevin Donleavy. Both have dedicated their lives to Irish music, Irish history, and the pursuit of social justice.

 

On my first visit to the Cobblestone pub in Smithfield (Dublin 7), I met Jerry. That was back in 2012, and he soon asked me to find his pal Kevin who had moved to Virginia. It wasn’t long before I located Kevin in Charlottesville. On my visit to Virginia for Christmas that year, I brought Kevin a vinyl record, sent by Jerry as a gift. You can read more about that in a blog I posted long ago. The record had a lovely cover and contained songs by Rakish Paddy, one of Jerry’s musical groups.

Jerry was also at my photographic exhibition and my American wake so there are many blogs on this site that include him. He was a dear, sweet man, who never failed to mention the importance of his partner Deirdre in his life.

Jerry’s health has been declining over the past few years. I haven’t gotten to see him much as he rarely traveled as far as the Cobblestone at night. I did make a trip down to the south of Dublin, to visit the Bottle Tower one night so I could hear a musical gig organized by Jerry. It was enjoyable, but as these trad sessions didn’t start until 9:30 PM and ran on school nights, they weren’t very accessible to me.

Jerry Crilly 2

Jerry Crilly in May 2013.

Sadly, Jerry’s health got the better of him, and he recently passed away. Kevin has kept me informed of events, and forwarded on these details sent by Jerry’s beloved partner, Deirdre.

Dear Kevin,

Jerry had a lovely send off today. Everything went smoothly. We had a folk mass in the church that was beautiful. Then in the crematorium we had Jerry singing “John of Dreams” from the Rakish Paddy cd as we entered followed by his great friend Pat Ludford from Cornwall sing “Fields of Athenry” & for the final curtain his dear friend Julie played on flute “The Jerry Crilly Jig” kindly written by yourself & she did it a great justice. I so wished you could have been there to hear  her play it was so lovely. Then we went back to the Ballinteer House for food & a fantastic session from musicians from all over. Eric Fleming who was in Jerrys group the Connolly Folk & Brendan Leeson the last member alive of the Rakish Paddy Group the list goes on & on. They also had a session in O’Donoghues singing a lot of Jerry’s songs that I was delighted to hear about. Hope you’re ok. Thanks for all your kind emails over the past weeks & for letting us use your wonderful tune dedicated to Jerry for his final farewell.
Kind regards, Deirdre 

 

As Kevin Donleavy noted: “It is a sign of the regard in which Jerry Crilly was held that so many musicians participated in his last rites, and the seisiun at famed O’Donoghue’s (yip, the pub in Dublin)  must have been phenomenal. What a send-off — friends at every turning remembering him !  Requiescat in pace, Jerry.”

We will miss you, and the sincerity and social conscious you brought us, Jerry. I will never forget the lessons of the bonsai tree or the family in the tenement. May you rest in peace and your spirit continue inspire the best in us all.

Shannon’s American Wake

On my last night in Dublin, my friends came together at the Cobblestone for my “American wake”.

Sheila Whelan (Fergus’ wife) originally suggested the idea.  She told me that when someone leaves Ireland for the US, the Irish traditionally hold a wake for them. In older days when people, like my great-grand mother, set sail for the States, a wake was held since the person wasn’t expected to return. Thankfully, flying has made the return trip much easier!

When I explained I wanted to return, Sheila said, “no worries!”  Evidently, my return  will give us a reason for a welcome back party!  I’m hoping for one of those on my November visit.

The Cobblestone pub in broad daylight.

The Cobblestone pub in broad daylight.

Irish wakes are typically held when someone dies, and they celebrate the deceased person’s life. There’s lots of drinking, craic/merry-making, and music. They are similar to America wakes, which are held for the living. As explained on Wikipedia, the term American wake:

refers to a gathering in an Irish home the night before a family member emigrated to America, in which friends and family would say goodbye to the emigrant for what was probably the last time.

In addition:

American Wake is the first full-length solo album by Patrick Clifford, released in 2010.

Thanks to my many friends who came to the wake, and to others who sent well-wishes from their summer vacation destinations.