Songs of joy, sadness, hope and loss are represented by the nostalgia of the Irish diaspora, and many Australians of Irish descent continue this music tradition transplanted from the mystic isle.
One such ‘troubadour’ is Boorowa’s Bede Morrissey.
Bede regularly raises his voice at the celebration of weekly Mass in St Patrick’s Church, is a popular entertainer at functions for young and old around the South West district, and is a highly valued long term member of the Boorowa Musical and Dramatic Society.
Perhaps it is just coincidence that Bede grew up in Yass, the birthplace of the great Irish-Australian poet ‘John O’Brien,’ (Patrick Joseph Hartigan).
Although, fairly early in his career his work as a carpenter brought him to Boorowa, and he stayed for the next sixty-four years.
Today he says that he will always be grateful to Boorowa, because it gave him a good lifestyle, regular work and a loving family.
Through those years he has also gathered many firm friends and admirers.
There were ten in the Morrissey family and music was always part of their lives.
Bede recalls that they would gather around the family piano and engage in a lengthy and very enthusiastic sing-song.
Although he ruefully admits that when he was a student at St Patrick’s College at Goulburn, and somewhat distracted by a nearby cricket match, his music teacher, Brother Metcalfe, barred him from the school choir.
Around about the 1980s he expressed an interest in joining the Boorowa M&D, and the society’s producer Margaret Cusack gave him a warm welcome.
“And I’ve enjoyed every moment of my part in the M&D since,” he says.
Some the early productions in which he was involved included Trial by Jury (1984) and Caught in the Act (2001).
For many years he has entertained at hostels and nursing homes, accompanied by friends such as Boorowa’s Margaret Berry and Les Graham from Harden.
He is in considerable demand as a singer at funerals, where the soothing quality of his soft, smooth tenor voice is greatly appreciated by those grieving for a loved one.
Like other members of the Boorowa M&D, he has great appreciation of the guidance he has received from the Society’s Musical Director, Mary Corcoran.
Bede was instrumental in arranging for regular visits by the M&D choir to retirement homes at Yass and Harden. Sometimes he does run a few risks.
He tells with amusement of the retirement hostel resident who enquired if he might be ‘husband material’, causing Bede to quickly ‘back-pedal.’
In 2011 he produced a CD of Country and Irish songs.
In 2004 Bede’s contribution to the Boorowa community was recognised with a Citizen of the Year award.
On October 27 Bede will be among many of the present M&D members to join with former members and local community representatives in celebrating 60 years of the music, fun and frolics of the Boorowa Society.