He made many friends in his years here, doing poetry readings and participating as a valued member of the local community. He was a popular figure at many area universities, including Bridgewater State and Boston State, where he developed close and lasting friendships with students and faculty.
Recently Bridgewater State University received a generous collection of Heaney’s personal correspondence and memorabilia from retired BSU English professor Maureen Connelly, whose friendship with Heaney dated back to the 1970s and continued until his passing. She introduced him to numerous people who became friends and admirers.
On Sunday afternoon, April 13, which would have been Heaney’s 75th birthday, Bridgewater State will host a tribute to him in the university’s Conant Science Building auditorium from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. A reception will follow featuring live Irish music, Irish-themed food and drinks and an exhibit of Heaney items from BSU’s own special collection and from items owned privately. In keeping with the warm and generous spirit of the honoree, all are invited to attend this free event and share in his life and work as recalled by his friends.
Speakers will include Boston Globe columnist and author Kevin Cullen, UMass Boston English professor Shaun O’Connell, former Boston firefighter Bobby Breen, a Heaney friend whom Heaney immortalized in his poem Helmet. Members of the audience who knew or shared a friendship with the poet will be invited to participate in this round-table style event prior to the reception.
For more information, call 508-531-1389.
A happy birthday to Bill Bulger on reaching 80
A large group of friends and family members came together last Sunday to celebrate the 80th birthday of former state senator and UMass President Bill Bulger. Corned beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread were on the menu, and music filled the hall at the old German Club, now the Seapoint Bar and Grill on East 8th Street in South Boston, site of Bill’s legendary St. Patrick’s breakfast over the years. The festivities were reminiscent of those many notable breakfasts that Bulger hosted from 1971 to 1996.
Among the guests was his longtime friend, the noted historian David McCullough, who joined him in singing “My Wife’s an Irish Girl.” McCullough beamed as he said his wife Rosalee’s mother is Ireland-born, a native of Antrim. Other guests included former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn and his wife Cathy, and 99-year-old Sister Evelyn Hurley, a nun at St. Brigid’s School who has taught in South Boston for 64 years, and is retiring next month.
Also present were City Council President Bill Linehan and his colleague, Stephen Murphy, who presented a citation proclaiming last Sunday “William M. Bulger Day” in Boston.
Revels launches its ‘Fringe’ series with Nuñez concert
Having built a loyal following for its annual holiday celebrations, Revels is expanding its reach with a new program entitled Revels FRINGE. The series will offer a variety of events, concerts, and workshops designed for audiences with a curiosity about emerging musical ideas, styles, and performers.
FRINGE launches March 7 with a performance at the Center for the Arts at the Armory (191 Highland Street in Somerville) featuring Carlos Nuñez, the extraordinary Galician piper who galvanized audiences on his world tour with The Chieftains. Local audiences will remember his triumphant performances as part of Boston’s Summer Arts Weekend last July.
Joining Nuñez and his band in this collaborative evening will be harpist Maeve Gilchrist (who performed in Irish “Christmas Revels”), local virtuoso fiddler Hanneke Cassel, and Revels veteran Stan Strickland on soprano saxophone.
An honorary member of The Chieftains, Nuñez embodies the charisma of a rock star while expanding the borders of Celtic music to include Flamenco, Jazz, Cuban, Mexican, Brazilian and more. He will also be appearing from March 14 - 16 as part of WGBH’s “St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn” with Brian O’Donovan.
For tickets, visit revels.org. – R.J. DONOVAN
Somerville Theatre to host Masters of Tradition March 28
The third annual Masters of Tradition tour, featuring an ensemble of seven highly acclaimed Celtic music performers, will make a stop in the Boston area at Somerville Theatre on March 28.
Fiddler Martin Hayes, the ensemble’s artistic director, will be joined by his long-time collaborator, guitarist Dennis Cahill, as well as Cathal Hayden (fiddle), Seamie O’Dowd (guitar), Máirtín O’Connor (accordion), David Power (uilleann pipes) and Iarla Ó Leonáird (vocals).
Masters of Tradition is named for, and based on the concept of, the annual festival in Bantry, Co. Cork, an event that presents Irish music in small configurations – solos, duos, and trios as well as full-group performances – and in intimate venues normally associated with chamber music. The format, according to organizers, promotes a true listening experience that enables audiences to appreciate the full depth and character of traditional music.
Hayes is steeped in the contemplative, lyrical East Clare fiddle style, and his partnership with Cahill has produced a minimalist yet mesmerizing approach to Irish traditional music. The two also are part of a recently organized band, The Gloaming, whose members include Ó Leonáird, a sean-nos (old-style) singer and a former member of the pioneering group Afro-Celt Sound System.
Hayden, one of the most respected fiddlers of his generation, was the driving force behind the formation of the popular group Four Men and a Dog. Among his musical affiliations is a trio with O’Connor – whose versatility has been evidenced in appearances with The Chieftains, De Danann, The Dubliners, and Elvis Costello – and O’Dowd, a former member of the band Dervish.
A former Senior All-Ireland piping champion, Power was a member of Liam Clancy’s Fairweather Band and plays with Donal Clancy and Ciarán Somers in Pipers Union.
For links to details about the Masters of Tradition concert, and information about Somerville Theatre, see somervilletheatreonline.com/somerville-theatre.
– SEAN SMITH
John L. Sullivan will be focus of talk at central BPL
The Boston Public Library will host lectures and author talks at the Central Library in Copley Square and branch locations through the month of March, highlighting the works of writers and experts in a variety of genres.
In one of the talks, on Thurs., March 6, at 6 p.m. in Rabb Lecture Hall at the Central Library, Christopher Klein will detail the life of one of America’s first Irish-American sports heroes as told in in “Strong Boy: The Life and times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero.