Her story is by now well-known: Kitty grew up listening to her father and their next door neighbour, Willie Clancy's father Gilbert play together in the kitchen. As a teenager she worked her father's concertina when he wasn't looking, teaching herself the basics. At that time she was out to the house dances a lot, listening to and playing music. At some point though her concertina broke and around the same time she married flute player Josie Hayes. Raising the family and working the farm there was no money or time for a concertina and it was only in the 1990s she got back to it, after a break of nearly 45 years. I met her on the first night she played out, she was sitting in with fiddlers Junior Crehan and Michael Downes, and she sounded like she had been playing forever.
Soon after, we started playing together - eight or nine years ago. We got on like a house on fire and ended up playing together almost weekly, quietly at home over a cup of tea. She had a good run of it the past few years, getting invited to play, a great television documentary in the Se mo Laoch series made by Breandan Begley and Nuala O Connor that told her story and told it well, and had us all play with her.
Winter was quiet, we played mostly in the kitchen, she particularly loved it when I brought my son along, he plays the concertina and she was always trying to get a few tunes off him, especially The Hunt, which her father used to play. During a few visits my son shot a dozen or so of videos that can be seen on YouTube.
Earlier this week Noel Hill played in town; I was to take her along but at the last minute she decided she'd save herself for the CD launch tonight. She got up this morning, had her cup of tea and then quietly slipped away.
Peter Laban - 17.5.08