THE QUIET MAN
By Mattie Lennon
But dreams don’t last —
Though dreams are not forgotten —
And soon I’m back to stern reality.
But though they pave the footways here with gold dust,
I still would choose the Isle of Inisfree.
When Maurice Walshe came up with The Quiet Man as a title for one of his stories he could have been using an appropriate sobriquet for the man who was to become famous through the John Fords film of Walsh’s story. If you have ever visited a shop in Galway or watched TV on a Christmas day you are no doubt familiar with the movie.
But Dick Farrelly, the quiet unassuming man, wrote more than two hundred other songs. He was born on (17 February 1916 His parents were publicans and when Dick was twenty-three he left Kells, County Meath for Dublin to join an Garda Siochana on Wednesday 04th April 1942. He served in various Garda stations, Clontarf, Pearse Street, Bridewell, Sundrive Road and Donnybrook, throughout his thirty-eight year career, ending up in the Carriage Office in Dublin Castle. He was a private, modest and shy man who wrote over two hundred songs and poems during his lifetime. He married Anne Lowry from Headford, Co.Galway in 1955 and the couple had five children. His two sons Dick and Gerard are professional musicians.
On a bus journey from his native Kells, Dick Farrelly got the inspiration for his now timeless composition the “Isle of Innisfree” and by the time he reached Dublin he had written the words and music. Farrelly’s poignant words express the longing of an Irish emigrant for his native land. It was first sung by Joe Cummisky, a Guard and fellow Kells man in the Vincent de Paul Hall, in Kells on Saint Patrick’s Day, It was recorded by Bing Crosby for whom it became a huge international hit. It has since been recorded by a great many artists worldwide but above all, it endures in the hearts of many to this day as one of the great songs of Ireland.
Professor Des MacHale who writes extensively on Dick Farrelly in his book, “Picture The Quiet Man”, goes on to say – “Film director John Ford heard it and loved it so much that he decided to use it as the principle musical theme of The Quiet Man… The melody is featured at least eleven times throughout the film, including its use during the opening sequence. “Sadly the composer of The Isle of Innisfree, Richard Farrelly received no mention in the screen credits”. (Victor Young was credited with the full musical score.) In more recent times “Isle of Innisfree” is also used in the film E.T. (1982) where a scene from The Quiet Man is shown, and again the melody can be heard in the soundtracks of the films, Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) and Breakfast on Pluto (2005).
A few years earlier in 1948, Anne Shelton recorded Dick Farrelly’s first success, “If You Ever Fall in Love Again”, becoming a hit for her in the UK. Guy Lombardo and his Orchestra, and instrumental pop group, The Three Suns, recorded the song in the USA. Other Dick Farrelly songs include, “Cottage by the Lee”, which was popularised by Joe Lynch (singer & actor), and “The Rose of Slievenamon”, recorded by Joseph Locke.
In later years he wrote “The Gypsy Maiden” recorded by Diarmuid O’Leary & The Bards, The Irish Descendants and Sinead Stone & Gerard Farrelly.
“Annaghdown” was recorded by Larry Cunningham reaching No 6 in the Irish charts, Sonny Knowles and Sinead Stone & Gerard Farrelly and “Man of the Road” was recorded by The Café Orchestra featuring singer Sinead Stone and a Scottish release by singer Julie Keen.
“We Dreamed our Dreams”, was written by Dick in 1988. It was first recorded by The Fureys & Davy Arthur in that same year. There are also recordings by Sean Keane, Cathy Ryan, The BBC Radio Orchestra featuring Finbar Furey on an album of the same title. There is also a highly acclaimed interpretation of this song by Sinéad Stone and Dick’s son, musician Gerard Farrelly on their album “Legacy of a Quiet Man”. The album is a collection of songs written by Dick Farrelly and was the subject of an RTE television documentary ‘Nationwide’. In July 2011 “We Dreamed our Dreams” was covered by Maura O’Connell/Cherish The Ladies in the US.
Dick Farrelly was involved in the Castlebar International Song Contest on several occasions coming runner-up in 1968 with “The Gypsy Maiden”, winning the Pop section in 1972 with “That’s What Love is Made Of” sung by Mary Lou and in 1976 his song “Who’s Gonna be the Preacher” reached the finals and was placed 3rd overall.
He also penned songs in the Irish language two of which are “Siobhan” and “Seolta Bána” (meaning, White Sails); both songs are recorded for the first time on the album, Legacy of a Quiet Man.
“The Isle of Innisfree” has been recorded by innumerable artists some of which include: Celtic Woman, Tommy Fleming, Sean Tyrell, Bing Crosby, Sinead Stone & Gerard Farrelly, The Cafe Orchestra, Phil Coulter, Anne Shelton, Vera Lynn, Dublin Screen Orchestra – (“The Quiet Man” soundtrack album), Connie Francis, Joe Loss & His Orchestra, Eamonn Cambell, James McNally, Finbar Furey, Paddy Reilly, Frank Patterson, Norrie Paramor & His Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Paddy Cole, Diarmuid O’Leary, Joseph Locke, Charlie Landsborough, Val Doonican, Daniel O’Donnell, Geraldo & His Orchestra, James Galway, John McNally, Jimmy Young, Victor Young & His Singing Strings, The Irish Tenors, Glen Curtin, Dublin City Ramblers, Sean Dunphy, Jimmy Griffin, Tony Kenny and Alec Finn to name but a few.
Many commentators have told stories of Dick over the years. But one of the people closest to him, his son Gerard, told me, “ My father was very unassuming and quite a shy man. Very much a family man, he loved nature and loved animals. I started playing drums when I was a teenager and Dad was great. He used to drive me around with the kit to band rehearsals etc. He was very laid back about certain things, for example, I remember one time, watching something on television about the great Nat King Cole and out of the blue he said in his own soft way, “I met him once, he was a really lovely man”… It surprised me that I was only hearing about it then and of course I wanted to know more, he was like that”. He liked to play the piano just for his own pleasure, playing mostly songs from the great American songbook era, or if he was working on a new song. But, he didn’t play very often. He would sometimes finish a song, words and music without ever going near the piano at all, which amazed me. You would often see him watching the television and taking a pen and a piece of paper out of his pocket and putting down an idea for a song, a bit of melody, a title or some words. He hated being asked to play in front of others or at an event, he wasn’t comfortable with performing. I remember he was involved in the Castlebar Song Contest on several occasions. Along with my sister Carol we helped Dad record the song demos in the house. Carol sang and I played the drums at the time and we would rehearse the song, but when it was time to record he would get a bit nervous and that would annoy him, something many a musician is familiar with! Mam was from the west and he loved it there and loved Lough Corrib and of course so much of “The Quiet Man” was filmed around there.”
Dick Farrelly died on Saturday 11 August 1990,(1990-08-11) aged 74. Even if his name didn’t appear on a poster with John Wayne, Maureen O‘Hara et all the quiet man from Kells has left a lasting legacy.