Tara Telephone by Eamonn Carr
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
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. Sepulcure). 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