This article appeared in the Limerick newspaper while Bill and Johnny Carr were visiting Ireland. It is reproduced for your reading pleasure here, exactly as it appeared in the paper (including misspellings.)

Castle Recitals Appealed To Birmingham Pals


During a recent poetry and ballad evening in the Turret Room of King John's Castle two Birmingham visitors, Bill Watkins and Johnny Carr, played and sang for the audience. Bill, who is a guitarist, sang his own composition, "The Beatnik's Lament," and was accompanied by Johnny on the auto-harp.

Bill and his friend, Johnny, were guests of Bill's grandmother, Mrs. Nellie McDonagh, 23 O'Dwyer Villas, Thomondgate, during their two weeks' holiday. Bill's mother, the former Monica McDonagh, has won many prizes for competitive singing, and his father, who is a native of Birmingham, is a good amateur vocalist.

The boys are folk music enthusiasts in Birmingham, where, at a folk song club, "The Jug of Punch," and at the Town Hall, they play and sing and listen to famous visiting personalities such as the Ian Campbell Group, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Buffy Saint Marie, the Dubliners and the Munstermen.


During their Limerick holiday they visited the Clare Fleadh Cheoll at Kilrush and were surprised and delighted at the wealth of Irish music and at the excellent standard of the performers, all of whom were amateurs.

Folk players they met at Kilrush included "Brendan," a versatile member of the Pipers Club, Dublin, who, like Johnny Carr, plays the auto-harp, and who was the only other performer on that instrument they met in Ireland. They had an interesting discussion on Bob Dylan with Liam Clancy of the famous Clancy brothers. Everywhere at the Kilrush Fleadh they found friendliness and a colourful, Bohemian atmosphere.

In Limerick, too, they were impressed with the friendliness of the people and really enjoyed the folk singing that is taken for granted in our local pubs. During their stay here they played in the White House, the traditional venue for local artistes, poets, actors and musicians.

They thought the atmosphere of the Tuairim-sponsored poetry and ballad evening at King John's Castle memorable and praised the playing and singing of Martina Tighe, the resident folk singer. One of the most captivating songs they had heard was Martina's "Buacchill on Eirne."

Bill Watkins has just finished secondary modern school and Johnny Carr is an apprentice cable joiner. In addition to playing the guitar, Bill sings and composes and Johnny is adept on the auto harp and the Jew's harp. They were prize-winning performers at a recent talent concert sponsored by a local publication, The Bromsgrove Messenger, and held in Selly Oak.

They are eagerly looking forward to their next visit at Christmas, when they hope to bring over with them Trevor Brookeshaw, a top-class folksong guitarist who usually plays with them. And they are looking forward to another opportunity of playing in the Turret Room of King John's Castle and of letting other audiences hear this folk singing trio.


During their trip to the Clare Fleadh Ceol at Kilrush they heard Joe Collopy, the accordionist and Jimmy Martin, the bowrawn player, who are both well-known performers in the Castle. Both boys had a particular interest in the bowrawn, which is an Irish type of tambourine and is made from goatskin stretched on a wooden hoop.

Last week Bill and Johnny returned to Birmingham and they carried with them the good wishes of everyone who had heard them sing and play.

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