Tara Telephone (Dublin)

Eamonn Carr (standing, right), Andrew Robinson (centre, with sinle bass/bass viol)
Vocals: Lucienne Purcell
David Costelloe, Declan Sinnott, Paul Kennan
Bernie Barrett / Andrew Robinson
Eamonn Carr

Tara Telephone by Eamonn Carr
by way of paying respect to David Costelloe, who unfortunately died in February 2011)

Inspired by the poetry reading scene in Liverpool (and throughout Britain in the late 1960s), Peter Fallon and I set up a poetry workshop - called Tara Telephone - in Dublin around 1968. A bit like today's singer-songwriter open mic nights, it enabled young writers to try out their work on an enthusiastic and helpful audience. At the time, Penguin's collection of Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten, The Mersey Sound was an enormous best seller. McGough was a member of Scaffold and Henri was in an electric music and poetry group called The Liverpool Scene.

I had experimented setting some poems to improvised music with David Costelloe, as young Dublin guitarist who'd been appearing on the folk scene with his female cousin. David's folk and jazz influences created a wonderful fluid backdrop to the spoken word. Naturally, when Peter and I decided to expand our public readings, David was a natural choice of musician to work with. He was always enthusiastic, great fun and had a marvellous maverick spirit.

As a trio, called Tara Telephone, we played in colleges and some folk and rock venues including the Foxrock Folk Club and Slattery's in Capel Street. We also appeared on television quite a bit, including an appearance on Like Now. If it hadn't been for David's willingness to indulge us and help us develop the concept, the Tara Telephone experiment might never have survived. Because it was working so well, we added a second guitarist, Paul Kennan. And soon afterwards a female singer, Lucienne Purcell. By then we were  based in the old Arts Society mews building in Trinity College.

By this stage we'd appeared as support to some major bands in the National Stadium, among them Ginger Baker's Airforce, Fleetwood Mac and others. We also performed with The Liverpool Scene in Dublin and alongside bands like Skid Row, Orphanage and Jazz Therapy. At some point, there was another line-up change. And Tara Telephone became Peter, myself, Lucienne, Declan Sinnott, Bernie Barrett and Andrew Robinson (who was also a member of the Consort of St. Sepulchre). All during this time, Peter and I were publishing the Tara Telephone poetry magazine Capella and broadsheet, The Book of Invasions. Artwork for these was designed by Jim Fitzpatrick, who also worked on a series of poster poems with us.

Around the end of 1970, I changed direction and set out to form a new band, Horslips, with Charles O'Connor, Jim Lockhart and Barry Devlin, who I known for a while. Declan Sinnott came with me into this new venture.

Peter went on to establish Gallery Press. Jim became a world famous artist and designed sleeves for Thin Lizzy. By then, David Costelloe had set off to travel around the world overland. He was one of very few Irish people to have been caught in Darwin when the city was hit by the devastating Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day 1974. 

When David returned home moths later, his health had suffered, which probably explains why the wider world never got to experience his great talent and charisma. They were exciting times and David Costelloe was an important seminal figure in the scheme of things.    

Eamonn Carr / February 2011 

19 August 2011

Thank you Eamonn Carr, for your kind words on my late father, David Costelloe. He spoke very fondly of you and his time with Tara Telephone. It's great to know that he, and his talent, had a positive effect on those around him.

Thanks again, Aoife Nolan

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