CHATHAM, Mass. (AP) — Lots of people harbor dreams but never follow through on them. Rosemary Clancy’s was to craft violins by hand. She was 42 years old when she decided to drop everything and go for it.
It was a radical decision. Clancy had a major role in a successful family business in New York City. She had played violin all her life but had never worked in wood. She had never really used tools. Nothing prepared her for the exacting, three-year course of study she would undertake, except her lifelong love of traditional Irish music.
She took that career leap seven years ago. Today, the fruits are evident in the small red-brick building on Main Street in Chatham where Clancy runs an instrument rental business, teaches classes, does repairs — and makes violins.
There, she has created a small but vibrant traditional music scene. On a recent Tuesday evening, about three dozen people packed the compact sitting room, tapping their feet to a lively Cape Breton folk tune, and singing along with a traditional Irish waltz. Clancy played on a violin she had made, accompanied by her 77-year-old father, Gene, and players in the crowd who stepped up to join in.
“It’s a new niche, something that wasn’t here before,” said Peter Maguire, a stone mason who made the trip from Boston to join the Clancys on flute for two numbers. “A lot of people wouldn’t be brave enough to take that gamble and throw away a successful career. It’s a labor of love.”
Clancy grew up surrounded by music and learned to play at 8. Her father and two uncles came to the United States from their native County Armagh in Northern Ireland to tour as the Irish Ramblers in the early 1960s. These Clancy brothers are unrelated to the Clancy Brothers band, and never made it as big.