June 15th 2012.
It’s a crazy old world these days. Hard to know what to believe, who to believe, where we will all end up, what’s going to happen…. But this beautiful day the sun shines, there is great singing going on in the trees and bushes. There is a gang of Magpies lurking around. They are up to no good but they have mouths to feed.
Went to hear Declan O’Rourke in the National Concert Hall last week where he performed a set with the full Symphony Orchestra…it was a most courageous undertaking and he gave it his very best shot. I like his work a lot. After that we scooted over to the Goilin club where Barry Gleeson was the guest singer for the night. He has just released a new album and he turned in a night of great ballads.
I’m writing these lines above in Gweedore, Co. Donegal. We will play two gigs up here tonight and tomorrow in the Dunlewey theatre. It’s an exciting prospect as I have not played here before. I did come to Gortahork as a 12 year old lad in 1957. Along with my sisters Eilish and Anne we attended the Gaeltacht Summer School. Many years later, circa 1980, I came to the Heavenly Glen to play a concert which was organised in opposition to proposed Uranium mining in that beautiful place. I have played often in Johnny Boyle’s Highlands Hotel in Glenties where we had some great nights with Moving Hearts and oft times cavorted ’til dawn. There is music in the air up here…. Clannad and Enya grew up nearby, Michéal, Mairead and Tríona Ní Domhnaill took their inspiration from here as they flew with Skara Brae, the heart of Altan beats amongst these hills and glens, The Lunnys – Donal and Manus, spent a lot of their formative years up here with their mother’s people, Goats Don’t Shave lather up locally while Margo and wee Daniel are just up the road in Kincashlagh. Music thrives here. It is a vital part of everything that makes this place so special.
The venue is in a unique building in a beautiful setting. It has the feel of a community based Theatre – no frills or uppity brouhaha, just a feeling of a lovingly-cared-for performance space run by and for the people who live here. There was a buzz about the place as the listeners gathered early. Declan and I were playing in the dressing room and we could hear the chatter outside as the people entered the hall. The music from Cal was reverberating quietly as we went into our final preparation. One more quick run through Duffy’s Cut as Michael Devine gave us our 5 minute call. I wanted to try a new version of this song tonight, to open with it for the first time, to try and bring it back down a few notches, let it be more a lament then a rouser. David Meade made his opening remarks over the tannoy and we were on…
Pity the Poor Immigrant
Come all you Dreamers
Joxer in Stuttgart
Bright Blue Rose
City of Chicago
Stitch in Time
Viva La Quinte
No Time for Love
Black is The Colour
Cliffs of Dooneen
The audience were superb, great listeners and, when asked, the requests came fast and furious… sorry we did not get to play them all.
Last week I was invited to attend the launch of an RTE/ RAAP joint initiative. A new bursary was being announced which will help 5 young musicians, from different musical backgrounds, to develop their music. (rte.ie/breakthrough). It was a happy event held in the Irish Film Institute’s Cinema in Temple Bar (our favourite cinema). I met up with many old friends there and also made some new acquaintance among them Ryan Sheridan. Great too to catch up again with Paddy Cole, Aonghus McAnally, Fiachna Ó Braonáin and many others. The coffee was flying, the cameras were flashing and the Crack was 90.
Amongst all the good vibrations there lurked a hack that had no interest whatsoever in this Bursary for young musicians. The gannet was foraging around for a story. Full of the joy and excitement of the morning I was off-guard and unprepared. He introduced himself to me as an “arts correspondent”. He sweet talked me until he landed his little nugget. Then he slinked back to base with a remark I had made about the Eucharistic Congress. There he wrote little or nothing of the Bursary we had just launched, preferring to expand upon my distaste for puffed-up clerical panto. Many people had worked long and hard to create this RTE/RAAP initiative and to organise its launch. In times such as these, when the Arts are being decimated by cutbacks, it is unforgivable that a so-called arts correspondent would forego such an event for a paragraph of cheap hackery.
We had a lovely spin around today. Up to Gortahork where I tried to find the school I attended in 1957. I think I spotted it but failed to find the house where I stayed lonesomely. Paddy Doherty and I drove the coast road back towards Bunbeg. (I have memories of visiting there way back in Planxty times when John “half-shaft” McFadden was our tour manager). We drove on and stumbled upon a hidden gem in Bunbeg Harbour, a lovely coffee shop in The Old Boathouse. Well worth a visit if you like peace, quiet and really good coffee. I bought a good second coat there too for 9 euro… then back to our base in Óstan na Cúirte in Gaoth Dobhair where Declan joined me for a rehearsal and we got ready to do it all again. One more time, each time like the first, every time bringing that sweet anticipation, that tinge of nervousness that brings on the beautiful adrenalin from which performance does flow. The welcome tonight was pure Saturday enthusiastic … away we went.
Yellow Furze Woman
Back Home in Derry
City of Chicago
John O’ Dreams
Stitch in Time
Black is The Colour
Afterwards I met with Manus Lunny and his family. He has lived here for many years. He commutes to Scotland where he plays with his band Cappercaile; he also runs a recording studio and recently recorded a very fine solo album with Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh. I also met up with some good friends from earlier times and left Dunlewey armed with Rhubarb and a bunch of good vibrations… a contented trip back down the road towards Dublin. Letterkenny was chocker block with Petrol Heads as boy racers cavorted around like donuts as they celebrated the Northwest Rally. With their arses slung low to the ground these buckos ‘n molls sure do rule the tarmac when given the chance… I got home by 3 am and onto the couch for the Rugby Match from Christchurch. Woke up to Father’s Day and what a beautiful day it was. I heard from all the family, got a beautiful dinner served up to me and then Kildare won their opening game in this year’s Senior Football Championship Campaign…
Tuesday, June 19th, Cusack Suite, Croke Park.
I was invited to be part of a “A Celebration of Recovery”, an event organised as part of Traveller’s Pride Week 2012. It was a day long event featuring workshops, personal journeys to recovery, meetings and it was topped off with some songs and music. Oisín McConville set the ball rolling in the morning. An Armagh, all-Ireland medal winning footballer, he shared his experience, strength and hope and spoke about his book “The Gambler”. Matt Cooper of Today FM talked to two young people about their recovery. By the time the music kicked off the participants had been around for 6 hours but they were still ready to listen and sing. I got to hear Miss Paula Flynn, Eoin Coughlan, Temper-Mental MissElayneous and Túcan. The atmosphere in the room was electric. There was a great sense of hope and a feeling of recovery amongst the audience. It was a privilege to be there and I thank the organizers: Pavee Point (Drugs Programme), Coolmine (Therapeutic Community) and the GAA (Alcohol/substance abuse prevention programme) for inviting me to participate. We sang…
Back in Derry
Declan Sinnott’s album is completed. “I Love the Noise It Makes” is his first solo album and it is simply superb. It will be released worldwide in September. We have decided to take a break from our band when this year’s dates are fulfilled. We will both perform solo gigs for the early part of 2013. This is a bit of a change for us. We have been gigging together these past 11 years but I love the challenge and the thought of something different. I first met Declan in 1972 when he was doing his stint with Horslips. Later we played in Moving Hearts together. Declan has been one of the main players in Irish Music for decades. He quietly gets on with his practice of making music. As well as early Horslips and Moving Hearts he played with Southpaw, Barry Moore, Jimmy McCarthy and many other outfits. He was Producer, Arranger and Band Leader for the first 13 years of Mary Black’s recording career and subsequently worked with Frances Black. He produced John Spillane’s first album “Wells of The World” (my fave) and also produced Sinéad Lohan’s ground-breaking recordings. He worked with Donal Lunny and I on the “Ride On” album, and played on many of my subsequent recordings. Declan has produced my last 3 albums. I celebrate the arrival of his first solo work and wish him every success with it.
Gig news ( further details on gig section at home page)
Some of these gigs are already on sale; others will come on stream very shortly
July 2nd, 9th, 16th – Button Factory, Temple Bar, Dublin. Christy solo gigs (with special guests) few seats left.
July 20th – Galway. Stand up gig in Arts Festival Marquee (with special guests 4 Men and A Dog)
August 24th – Hillgrove, Dingle
September 14th & 15th – Solstice, Navan
September 28th – Mountmellick Community Arts Centre
October 12th – Cavan
October 13th – Sligo
October 26th – Forum Waterford
October 27th – Clonmel Park Hotel
November 5th -12th – England and Scotland (see gig guide)
December and January – Vicar St, Dublin.
further gigs are being scheduled. They will be on the gig page ASAP……keep in touch and give us your feedback.
See you along the way,