The night Johnny Cash was king of the castle.
March 30, 2010
A recent YouTube discovery of Johnny Cash & local artist Sandy Kelly making a TV recording of “Woodcarver” on the staircase at Markree, had us thinking that we should find out a little more about the Man in Black’s time at Markree. Johnny Cash and June Carter stayed at Markree in October 1990. He did sign the visitor’s book and a paper clip marks the page to save guests hours of searching. The signature itself is disappointingly ambiguous June Carter’s signature on the line below is a little more legiable and makes the whole thing a bit more believable! There is of course a signed photo that he left behind as a thank you to the Cooper family but it isn’t on display. He stayed here on a break from touring and made a TV recording which has recently surfaced on youtube (thanks to yourtubetv, whoever they are and whereever they got the clip from!)
How he came to Markree is best summed up in Sandy Kelly’s own words in a newspaper article about her time touring with him in the USA and Europe, that she wrote shortly after his death:
“When we did the concert hall in Dublin we had three days off after the show and we had arranged to video ‘Wood-Carver’, our duet, and also record clips and interviews for my television series.
Instead of going into RTé studios I though it would be nice for John, family and the band to travel to Markree Castle in Sligo to record and film.
His manager, Lou Robin, almost had a fit. We were standing on the side of the stage, I was waiting to rehearse ‘Wood-Carver’ with Johnny.
I told Lou about my great idea, our filming in Sligo, and he said absolutely no way as it was far too long a journey to bring everyone and that John and June needed to rest.
I was really disappointed and worried as I’d booked the whole of Markree Castle for the three days. So I walked out on the stage at the concert hall when Johnny called me to rehearse.
And I said to him “I am so sorry about the trip to Sligo, I honestly thought you’d enjoy it.”
He said: “What trip to Sligo?”
So I explained what I’d planned. And he said” “Well Sandy, I guess we are all going to Sligo.”
Then he told Lou to make arrangements, Lou was not happy with me, but I can assure you, once everyone arrived in Sligo next day and settled into Markree, the moods were great all round.
John and June loved the Castle. He had the rare luxury of being able to walk around the gardens and fields by himself, undisturbed, he looked so happy. I will always remember that.
When he returned from his walk he went behind the bar and poured himself a glass of Guinness – he also loved Guinness.
And this little voice from the sofa shouted: “Hey Johnny, where is my drink?” It was little Barbara Kelly, my daughter, only nine years old and well able to protest the unfairness of her not getting a drink.
I was stunned, Johnny said: “Well hun, you are right. Come over here, and sit down at the bar. What would you like?”
She said: “A Coke please,” and he laughed, poured her one, and handed it to her. Now that was a picture!
The next day was a work day filming etc., and we had a wonderful dinner that night. He and June were at each end of a long table, and really looked like they lived there.
As it was Halloween they had a fancy dress party the next night, searching Sligo up and down for costumes. Johnny was dressed as an Indian and June a ‘page 3 girl’. They couldn’t believe their good fortune in spending Halloween in a castle on the west coast of Ireland. Spooky!
I believe they were sad to leave, and Johnny told me that he would return there to write! Of course he never had the chance.
Every time I go to Markree, I think of him and his family. John, June, June’s sisters Anita and Helen, all now gone. It’s very hard to really believe it.
I attended the private funeral of Johnny Cash in Hendersonville, Nashville. As he was in life. The service was simple, graceful, honest and very emotional. All his family and friends gathered in a small church to say goodbye.”
The full text of the article which details Sandy’s time touring with Johnny is available by clicking here.
It’s nice to know that some things don’t change our more famous guests (and the rest of us too!) still enjoy the luxury of being able to walk in the grounds undisturbed, and the relaxation that comes with being able to while the time away in front of the fire in peace and quiet.