Martin Woods learned his first tune from his father Dinny Woods. Dinny’s brothers Jack and Paddy,
also played music. Like many others Paddy and Jack immigrated from the Derrygoolin area of Galway
to the states. When immigrants returned home some brought back a gramaphone and the old 78 records.
The recordings of Michael Coleman, James Morrison, Paddy Killoran, and Frank Higgins were among the
records that Martin learned his music from. He was also able to read and write music.
Martin was a local postman and when he finished work he often sat on a stone wall, outside his
house, playing his fiddle as his children walked home from school by Derrycon. Martin Woods played
a lot for dances and house dances, around Kilclaran, Killanena and Mountshannon. He was a member of
St. Caimin’s Band that was formed by Martin MacNamara, from Mountshannon. Other members of the band were
Martin Larkin from Abbey, Seamus Connolly for a brief period, Paddy O’Donoghue, Jack Murphy, Willie Hogan, along
with Bill MacNamara from Coogeypark. He played with many musicians such as Martin and Seamus Connolly, Conor
Tully, Kevin O’Meara, Martin Tully, Jack Killeen, Joe Burke, Vincent Griffin, Martin Rochford, Dr. Bill Loughnane,
Agnus Kileen, Aggie White, P. Joe Hayes, Paddy Canny, Willie Logue, Tom Barrel Rafferty from Ballinakill, to
mention just a few. He also taught music to a number of interested people, one of those being Seamus Bugler.
Seamus travelled by bicycle through rain, snow and frost to Martin Wood’s home for music. Seamus was a keen
student, although Martin was known to be quite strict as a teacher. Martin is reported to have said of Seamus
Bugler “remember this boy will be a household name yet”.
In the early days there was no such thing as tape recorders. After many sessions Martin
and Seamus often stopped near Martin’s home at Dan Doyle’s gate. This is where they often worked out
and pieced together a new tune they heard that night. The tunes they played could be heard through the
fields down across to Whitegate. Seamus recalls the story of how late one night, many years ago, Jim Joe
Haran heard the music at his home in Whitegate and thought it was the fairies.
Seamus Bugler and Martin Woods played in many venues together including the Merriman
Tavern, Scariff, a venue noted for hosting many fine musicians over the years. Martin and Seamus
performed regularly before other visiting musicians during the early seventies up to about ’75. On some
occasions when the main performance was over musicians would play together ‘after hours’. On one particular
night Sean McGuire and Josephine Keegan sat with Martin and Seamus after their main performance for a few
tunes together. During the session Martin played a tune on Sean’s McGuire’s fiddle. For many years Martin
played a three quarter size fiddle and when Seamus heard Martin playing Sean’s fiddle the sound was so sweet, it
was clear what a fine, talented musician Martin was. This was a great boost and a personal thrill for Martin to
play with Sean McGuire and also to play his fiddle.
In the early ‘70’s Martin and Seamus did a radio recording of “Down the Broom” and “The Gatehouse Maid”. In
1974 Ciaran MacMahuna produced a documentary for RTE about Gerry Martin, boat and fiddle maker who Martin
Woods also played with. In part of the documentary, Martin plays in a session in Cis Ryan’s Pub, Garrykennedy
along with Seamus Bugler, Gerry Martin, Liam O’Connor, Jimmy (Caddy ) Kennedy, and Jimmy Mackey.
This clip featured in the 2011 Feakle festival, as part of a tribute night to Seamus Bugler for his
contribution to the music and culture of East Clare.
(Source of Information: Mickey Woods (son) and Seamus Bugler)