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Ed Reavy (1897-1988) was born in Barnagrove,
On the day of Ed Reavy's funeral, the weather was bitterly cold. A piper had been engaged to play at the cemetery but the pipes would not play in the freezing weather. A teenage boy named Seamus Egan took a tin whistle out of his pocket and played some of Reavy's tunes. Today, Seamus Egan is one of the most recognized artists in Irish traditional music. He currently performs with the group Solas. A local priest, Father Michael Doyle, memorialized the moment at the graveside in a poem, "How Could Reavy Die?" The poem appears below.
To hear Mick Moloney read a version of the poem "How Could Reavy Die?" followed by a selection of Ed Reavy's tunes in which Seamus Egan plays the tin whistle, click the player below. [Recording used by permission of Mick Moloney]
HOW COULD REAVY DIE!
The plumber of the hornpipes is dead.
The old diviner with the hazel bow,
That found the Shannon's source
And made its magic waters flow across the world.
"NO" she said "he's not dead,
How could Reavy die!"
And who are you to say!
"I am the Wind: The Wind
That drove the clouds in herds
Above the Cavan hills and Drexel too
And whispered to the oats in Barnagrove.
I am the breeze that kissed O'Carolan's face
With moisture on my lips
'Til notes danced within his mind
Like flames behind a blind.
I am the breadth in Reavy's body
I used to whistle in his mouth
Merely oxygen upon arrival
But virgin music coming out.
He would hold me in the evenings
And we'd play within his soul
He tamed me with his reverence
But I always had to go . . .
So I bore him sounds of sweetness
Some were sad and some were glad
And he composed half a thousand tunes
About the happy time we had."
Hush! I whispered. Did you see his fiddle
On the altar - silent as a stone
And his body on the grave in Drexel Hill?
Clamped on the hole in a final salute
Like an old finger frozen on a flute.
Did you see the people in a circle
Standing sadly in the snow,
When the pipes refused to play in the cold?
"I was there" she said
I am the Breath of the earth.
Every mouth is a wisp of my prayer
Breathing blessings of incense on the bites of the air
Because life has the edge on the ice.
Listen my friend, to the lad with the whistle
With his finger tips timid and cold.
See the life that he brings to the old man's tune
And the leaks that he brings to the eyes.
See Reavy arise from the holes in the tin . .
And announce on his grave "I'm alive!"
For additional information on Ed Reavy check this link: