Your memories of Irvine Folk Club and Marymass Folk Festival

We are now in the 50th year of Irvine Folk Club and looking forward to the 50th Anniversary of the Marymass Folk Festival in 2017. Pete Heywood has been working for some time on compiling a history of the club and festival. He would welcome any memories that you have, ideally by email or in writing. Here are a couple of questions that could help start the ball rolling.

What memories do you have of your first experiences with the Folk Club and Festival? (Over time, it would be good to get people’s memories of particular highlights over the years, but to kick off it would be good to look back to you EARLIER experiences.)

In respect to the Marymass Folk Festival, which particular artists do you most associate with Marymass? (Again it would be good to focus initially on the earlier years. We’ll ask about the more recent era later.)

You can contact Pete directly by email –

This post is set up so that you will be able to ‘comment’ on it and we can access your answers that way. Be aware though that we might have to switch off the ability to comment on the post if we end up getting too many Spam messages.

Joan and Anne’s (and Elma’s) sponsored walk – completed but still time to donate!!

Two Irvine Folk Club members – Joan Muir & Anne Clarke plus Joan’s dog Elma – successfully completed a fundraising sponsored walk on Sunday 19th May organised by The Tailor Craft – one of Irvine’s Incorporated Trades.  The three intrepid walkers braved a warm breeze on a mercifully dry day to complete what must easily have been a three mile route.

The sponsored walk was undertaken to raise funds for Irvine Folk Club. For anyone who wants to contribute but hasn’t had a chance to do so, the sponsor sheet will be available at the Folk Club this Wednesday 29th May when My Sweet Patootie are the guests.  Speak to Joyce about making a donation for the fundraising sponsored walk.

PS.  Joan, Anne & Elma have now fully recovered from their expedition.

With sadness we report the death of Brendan Duffy, former MC at Irvine Folk Club

News of the untimely death of Brendan Duffy has been received with much sadness. Brendan was a former MC at Irvine Folk Club, particularly in Redburn Hotel days and worked as a Planner at Perceton House with Irvine Development Corporation.  He took ‘laid-back-ness’ to new levels. It was almost routine for Brendan to ask whilst MCing ‘What was it that I was to remember to say?’  He loved the craic and the camarederie that folk music brought and was himself a fine singer – but he didn’t think so.

In recent years, Brendan coped with deteriorating health in a ‘let’s get on with it’ style. Having spent much of his retirement with his wife in Northern Ireland, they had  been living in Kilmarnock for several months to be nearer to their son and daughter and their families. Brendan died peacefully at home in Kilmarnock on Wednesday 15th May and is survived by his wife Maureen and their son Ciaran and daughter Siobhan. The sympathy of everyone at Irvine Folk Club goes to Maureen and the family. Brendan is fondly remembered.

STV programmes with Adam McNaughtan and Danny Kyle on YouTube

STV have posted some old programmes on Youtube that will be of interest to club members.  The series was Kay’s Originals by Billy Kay.  I have provided two links of particular interest, one which includes Adam McNaughtan and another with Danny Kyle.  Adam looks very youthful and it is great to see such high quality footage of Danny.  It will bring back memories for lots of people.

Adam McNaughtan & Tony Roper

John Byrne & Danny Kyle

I have posted these links on the club website on the Links page which you will find on the Help & Information menu. Why not pass this information on to some of your friends so that they can also see who is coming to the club. If you want to send them a direct link to the video page – copy this one and email it to them:

Darach de Brun – Drantan

Darach, piper with Drantan at Irvine Marymass
Darach, piper with Drantan at Irvine Marymass

It was with great sadness that news was received of the death of Darach de Brun of Irish band Drantan.  Darach died suddenly on Sunday 24th June inDublindoing what he loved – playing the uilleann pipes.

Darach had played at Marymass in the dim and distant past and because of the good memories he had, he wanted his band Drantan to experience Marymass. And so it was that in 2009 Drantan first played at Marymass Folk Festival. The quartet quickly became firm favourites withIrvineaudiences and have played at the annual festival since.

Whilst he made his living as a bookbinder, Darach was happiest playing his pipes and loved being part of a session or simply listening to new bands. Darach enjoyed playing in Irvine pubs, at concerts, schools – anywhere in fact as long as he could bring music to people of whatever age.

He was an outgoing man, interested in so many things and made friends easily.  The ‘Landladies and Landlords’ who housed Drantan when they were in Irvine always spoke warmly of Darach – he was an easy guest.

Darach is survived by his wife Val and their two sons. The sympathy of Marymass Folk Festival and Irvine Folk Club goes to Darach’s family and Drantan band members Liam Davis Snr, Gerry Byrne and Liam Davis Jnr.

Sad farewell to Billy Muir

We are saddened to report the passing of Irvine Folk Club member Billy Muir after a brave battle with cancer.  His funeral will take place at 2pm on Thursday 19th April, 2012 at Holmsford Bridge, Dreghorn.  After that everybody is welcome to gather for refreshments at Vineborough Community Centre, Irvine.  Our thoughts are especially with Joan at this time.  Billy will be missed.

Johnny Silvo dies

Photo of Johnny Silvo
Johnny Silvo at Marymass

It is very sad to report the death of Johnny Silvo – arguably the best all-round folk entertainer ever to appear in Irvine.  Johnny died peacefully at his home in Norwayon Sunday 18th December.  He is survived by his wife Berit and son Patrick.

Johnny first appeared at Marymass Folk Festival in 1974 and since then has built up a strong and loyal fan base and a wide circle of friends who sang with him, had a dram with him, golfed with him. He was an extremely affable and popular man. Johnny has sung and played in numerous Irvine Pubs – including of course the former Eglinton Arms,  played at umpteen Marymass Folk Festivals as well as Schools, Rotary events, Senior Citizens concerts, Care Homes…the list goes on.

It is hard to think of anyone with a voice to match his superb tone, clarity and volume.  Added to which, Johnny was an exceptionally fine guitarist.

After completing National Service, Johnny Woods changed his name to Johnny Silvo and played with Jazz, Skiffle and Blues bands, did a stint at presenting PlaySchool on TV before commencing a solo career.  It was when he was with London’s Ann Dex Agency that he first came to the attention of Irvine Folk Club.

It hardly seems possible that Johnny could have been topping the bill at this year’s Marymass Folk Festival’s Saturday Night Concert in the Volunteer Rooms singing favourites like Blueberry Hill, I wish I could shimmy like my sister Kate, I’ll fly away.  He was in excellent form and there were many who remarked that, like  good wine, Johnny was improving with age. Then came the awful news that Johnny had cancer and had only a few months left.

Johnny’s zest for life sticks in the mind. He leaves a huge gap and will be much missed.

Anne Clarke