Notes from the arranger
The Valentia Suite is a loving and nostalgic tribute to the beautiful hidden gem Valentia Island, in County Kerry. I have been there almost every summer since I was born with family and extended family, so every place on the island is soaked in memory. This is a very personal piece, with each movement focusing on a specific place or event, and the music tries to express the recalled moods and characters these evoke.
“The Coombe Road”
Walk for about quarter of a mile up the road past the Lightkeepers’ dwellings and you come to the crossroads. The right path leads to Glan Leam, the left leads to the high road to Chapeltown inland, and the middle prong becomes the Coombe road. Coombe road passes a ruined church and graveyard with forest backdrop on the left, ocean on the right. The road gets steeper, winding and thickly arched by trees on either side. It goes on for what seems like a long time, even though its only about half a mile. It is very quiet, mostly dark, with occasional darts of sunlight and an atmosphere of gloomy mystery, enriched by some spooky tales including one passed down from my grandma and her sisters. At the end of Coombe road, the trees break suddenly and there’s another crossroads. The left prong leads to Geokaun Mountain, lots of ruins and to the fairly desolate yet great cycle ride back around the island. The middle prong leads up to the grotto and the slate quarry, and the right prong begins the walk down to the Lighthouse.
“Session at Fintan’s”
A good few years ago, one of our cousins bought a cottage inland that was idyllic but had no electricity. They invited everyone from our vast extended family over one evening for a magical session by candlelight, going strong into the twilight.