The funeral for Brien Halpin was on Monday, 5 December 2017. At the age of 84, another voice in the Christchurch Folk Music Club’s 49 year history speaks no more.
For the majority who read this, the name means nothing but that does not lessen the importance of acknowledgement. Brien was a quiet part of us in the 1970s, from about 1975 to 1980. We had recognised this kindred spirit by his facial growth, and welcomed him into the ‘bearded wonders club’.
It came out in the speeches that his interest in folk music was sparked on an engineering placement in England in the late 1960s (he graduated BE (Electrical) from Canterbury) and naturally he had to change his image. He returned with a head full of British trad. on the inside and a full black beard and long hair on the outside. He joined the club, then at the Arts Centre, sang lustily in chorus sessions and occasionally as a soloist: One member last week recollected:
“I just had a memory of him singing at the Gresham Hotel. Also he enjoyed his wine and we had a few dinners where we drank the wine and graded/rated it. Interestingly enough we had the same wine a year apart and gave it a similar grading each time!”
But he is probably better remembered for his enthusiasm in Mummers Plays, which Peter Morgan organised for the club over the same period Brien was a member:
By this time (mid 1970s) he had married Carol and become a stepfather. Soon they added two of their own and this busyness plus a developing career took him out of the club and to new interests.
All through his alter egos as a medalled veteran table tennis player at national and Australian competitions, local harriers and personal researcher of anything that took his fancy, shone his devotion to Carol, the kids, grandchildren and young cousins. He was regarded by all as supportive, relatable and caring and a thoroughly nice guy. We leave him now on a slight apologetic note – sorry we kept spelling your name wrong, Brien!
By Tony Hale