The Piano Man of Parteen Men’s Shed
As a young boy, Noel Kelly’s sight gradually deteriorated over his younger years. At age 11, Noel was sent to a school for children with visual impairments in Drumcondra, Dublin.
Recalling those years, Noel says it was around 1960 until 1967, when he went to boarding school for the blind in Dublin, which he says “was a tough enough regime”.
While Noel’s sight continued to deteriorate up until his late 50’s, his hearing has never been better. It may be true what some studies say, losing one sense rewires the others. As Noel turned 18, the boarding school had sent him down to Shannon for an interview as a piano tuner. Being successful in his interview, Noel began his first job since leaving Dublin, and to say his hearing is impeccable is an understatement. Not only a piano tuner, Noel is also a talented musician, playing the piano, guitar and accordion.
Working in Shannon as a piano tuner, Noel spent his days surrounded by these grand instruments, restoring them to pitch-perfect levels with care and dedication. A recent purchase of an upright piano by the Parteen Men’s Shed has also received the same level of treatment from Noel, helping to restore it back to its concert level pitch.
The piano had been bought from a shop in Limerick, called Kleiser Piano, who sold the shed the piano for €250. Treasurer of the Parteen Shed, John Jennings, noted the generosity of the shop; “Kleiser had a piano that was dropped into them, it needed an awful lot of work done to it and it would have taken them a few months, but when they found it was for Noel, they gave it to the shed for €250”.
“I think that was mighty for Noel, he ended up joining the Shed Committee as our Fundraising Officer. It’s opened a lot of things for us. Now Noel wants to sell that piano and turn it into a project”.
With a lot of hard work over a number of months, by touch and ear alone, Noel restored the piano to a pitch-perfect level. John commended Noel on his hard work in restoring the piano. “Noel spent months fixing the piano, replacing the strings, tuning it, fixing the keys and a few of the lads did some woodwork to get the piano back into working order,” says John. “I think that was mighty for Noel, he ended up joining the Shed Committee as our Fundraising Officer. It’s opened a lot of things for us. Now Noel wants to sell that piano and turn it into a project”.
Founded in 2016, piano restoration isn’t the shed’s only project. John notes that Parteen is an active shed, carrying out community work and recently built 20 bird boxes and a bug hotel for the Radisson Hotel when they wanted to go for their Green Certificate.
It’s clear that Parteen Men’s reflects many of the true values of a men’s shed, with inclusivity being at the centre of what this shed holds dear by supporting Noel.