Old diaries inspire new songs

July 3rd, 2015 4:50 PM

By Southern Star Team

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Skibbereen-based singer, songwriter, composer and musician Jessie Kennedy has just completed work on The Carbery Songs – a contemporary musical project inspired by the diaries of three women from the Freke/Carbery family of Castle Freke, West Cork, spanning three centuries, beginning in the 1650s.

The diaries in question are those of Lady Elizabeth Freke (one of the earliest recorded female diarists in the world), Lady Mary Carbery’s West Cork Journals, and Juanita Carberry’s account of her time in the Happy Valley set in Kenya, with her father, the infamous Lord John Carberry.

During the making of this project, lost music composed by Lady Mary Carbery and her mother in law Lady Victoria Carbery was unearthed by Jessie and recorded at Rosscarbery Cathedral, on the original pipe organ where Mary Carbery would have played. Pieces of this music have been incorporated into the album and performance.

Jessie was recently invited by the Evans-Freke family to preview the music at a live performance in The Castle Freke itself, to a select audience of 100 historians.

Also collaborating with Jessie on this album are musical legend Donovan, Lady Puttnam and composer Justin Grounds.

From this project a one-hour multimedia show has evolved, including images by John Minihan, vocals, strings and piano. The show is particularly suited to intimate and medium-sized venues and local music lovers can experience it in St Fachtna’s Cathedral in Rosscarbery on July 4th next, with proceeds going to the Glandore Church of Ireland Restoration Fund. There will be some special guests on the night also.

Jessie Kennedy has performed and recorded with artists such as Sacha Puttnam, Donovan, Interference (as seen in the Oscar-winning film ‘Once’) Maurice Seezer (music composer for Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, Romeo and Juliet and Jim Sheridan’s In The Name of The Father), Clodagh Simonds (Fovea Hex), Maria Doyle Kennedy and many more. As well as working as a solo artist, Jessie is also a violinist with The Vespertine Quintet, and The Early Modern Players (Chamber Orchestra).

For more information go to or find her on Facebook (Jessie Kennedy Music)

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