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I’m coming to see you in Belfast on 3rd of May and was wondering if you’d play St. Brendans Voyage. I’m a massive fan as I grew up listening to your music played on loop by my parents. I’d really appreciate it, it’s one of my all time favourites and would mean a lot to me. That said, you’re a gentleman in demand and I understand if it’s not possible. Anyway as a bit of an incentive if you do end up playing it I’m making a commitment now that I’ll go into politics and guarantee you a state funeral for when your time comes. You’re a Saint and a scholar and deserve nothing less. All the same, looking forward to seeing you!
Many thanks, Seán Marshall.
Is it right or left for Gibralter ?
Christy please play Beeswing for my 16 year old daughter Cairenn and her dad Dermot who are massive fans and at your show 3rd May in Belfast Waterfront. It’s one of their favourites thank you 🙂
one of mine too
Dear Christy, I hope you are all well. I am looking forward to attending this evening and tomorrow in Belfast. Mick has mentioned something about remaining calm, but I cannot wait. Belfast looks like the most fabulous place. And then we’re off to see the Wilds of the Antrim coastline. The Gobbins sounds so much to me like goblins! Keep hale and hearty, there’s a bit of a breeze. See you at the front of the water. Xx
Ye were lookin good last night
My name is Paul McMahon
This is a semi autobiographical story that I wrote I thought might be a good story but now I’m hoping you might be able to write a good tune about. Christy I’m 39 married with four kids have a wee bit of talent but if you could do something with this Half of story which I genuinely think is interesting well then Happy days.
To whom it concerns,
My name is John “One Punch”Conroy,
I was born in Dublin,Ireland in 1947 to Christy “Bartle” Conroy and Mary Hickey Conroy.
Im here to tell the story of my roller coaster life from early days dealing with the IRA in Dublin to my violent days in New York City dealing with the Italian Mafia and the Irish Mob during some of the most violent periods of New Yorks underworld history.
I grew up in Finglas in Dublin and man what a childhood I had.There was thirteen of us ten boys and three girls in three bedrooms,it could get very claustrphobic in there very quickly and we kicked the shit out of each other all the time,they were hard times but we looked after each other too.My father who was from Dublin city worked in the Meat Packing game,he was a strong and fairly violent man who had a thing about drinking,horse racing and kicking the shit out of me and my brother David.He would smack the rest of my brothers with the strap of his belt but when it came to me and David he would get the poker from the fire and beat the shit out of us,he drew blood a few times aswell,ah well that was my father I still love him,the mad bastard.My mother who was from Dublins Northside was very quiet in manner, but there was no messing with her she was far from a push over,sometimes I would rather get a slap off my oul man than get a rattle of my mothers tongue.
When I went to school I was smart but not school smart,what i mean is I had great street smarts but I was lost sitting in a classroom.I got brought to court one time over a certain teacher who hit me at school over a Math question,he made a prick out of me in front of the class,when he start smiling I hit him so fucking hard with an old bike lock I had I was told to leave the school over the old bastard.I left school altogether at fourteen.
It was then I went to work in a meat processing factory in town it was a shithole but I thought to myself “Im earning”,I was always independent and just wanted to earn my own money even at that stage of my life.It was there I met a man called Micka Martin,it was much the same in his house,his oul man burst him whenever he felt like it.Mick was one of the best we went through a lot together.
I was a fairly quiet person growing up,took my fair share of kickings mind you I gave a few aswell,I got the name `One Punch` from a young age even though I wasnt a big guy,I had a vicious right cross that could stop any man in his tracks,believe me theres a lot of men out there who can vouch for that.but more often than not it just got me into trouble,the only time I ever got locked up in prison was in 1963.
I had just turned sixteen and myself,Micka Martin and a chap called Paddy `Whack` McConnell broke into an office in the city,at that time people were paid in cash packets,dont think it works that way anymore,when we got in we stole about fifty of these packets we got about three thousand old pounds which was a hell of a lot of money for 1963.Unfortunately though we got made leaving the place,got raided and caught by the balls with the stolen cash,we each got eighteen months in a young offenders home.Im not afraid to say I was shitting it going in,they made me do the full eighteen months and Im tellin you now I met some proper fuckin mad men in that place.When I got out of Pats(St.Patricks Institution,that was the young offenders home) it was 1965 I was almost eighteen and the first thing I did was go for a drink in a bar called The Gall.
I remember thinking to myself I never ever wanted to go back to a place like Pats again and that I was going to turn things around in my life and start behaving myself….If only things were that easy.
When I was released from prison,I got a job in Ballyglass as a carpet fitter,It was a fairly good income I moved out of home that year and into my own apartment.It was good for me to go when I did,it was a madhouse in my folks and I`d had enough.My life was going okay but I was bored out of my mind,I felt like I was just existing rather than living,I was starting to feel that itch again to make some real money and since I had little or no real education or proper prospects,there was only one way a man like me was going to earn some real money…..The wrong way.
Myself and Mick Martin started doing errands for a local tough called Joe Farrell,it was nothing major,just some collections,mind you we never asked what we were collecting.As time went on we were doing more and more of these collections,so much so that I quit my job carpet fitting and went full time into Farrells crew, much to the annoyance of my family. See, Joe Farrell was a fairly big deal in North Dublin at the time,he was the real deal IRA, He was around ten years older than me and had been locked up in prison with my brother Alan, whom he had become friends with.He had been involved in one crime or another since he was out of nappies, in recent years he had been involved in armed robberies,money laundering,gun running and a couple of shootings.He always got pulled in by the cops and questioned but they never charged him,he came close one time though, this fella had seen him shoot another guy in the back of the leg in what was called a `Punishment Beating` over missing cash.The witness was one of these do gooder types who was on a crusade to get rid of crime in Ireland,well one bullet in the post and he soon shut the fuck up.
Things could not have been going better we were earning proper money,living well and had gained a lot of respect in our circles.So much so that I asked Joes permission to start up a small dice game of my own in the neighbourhood.He hadn`t got a problem with that as long as he got his cut of the action.Another money maker I came up with was a numbers game but not like anything that came before.We loved our soccer in Dublin especially the British soccer because there was so many Irish players playing over there.At that time you more than likely supported Manchester United,Liverpool,Leeds United or like myself Glasgow Celtic.So what I came up with was this; Every Saturday evening when the results came out for the top leagues in England and Scotland,you would add up the total amount of goals scored in every game in those leagues for saturday and the total would be the winning number.It was a brainchild we earned a fortune.Joe was impressed he told us to keep it up,we were on cloud 9 everything was going great.
Joseph Patrick Farrell was born in August 1937 in Northside Dublin. His father was an old time Republican sympatiser from Cork who worked as a butcher, and his mother a home maker from Dublin.Joe like us was brought up on the stories of the 1916 Uprising and of the Irish War of Independance against the British in Ireland.His grandfather, a proud Corkonian man was a member of the Michael Collins formed Flying Columns squad.The Flying Columns were a hand picked squad made up of some of the most trusted men to the legendery Irish republican leader Michael Collins.These stories had a profound affect on a young Joe Farrell.He had been groomed by some senior members of the IRA as a teenager to join there war against the British occupation of Ireland.Even at that young stage of his life it was obvious he was a very fearless man.At the age of eighteen he was already doing hold ups for the IRA.He made his name through fear and intimidation, to put it another way if you were stupid enough to get on the bad side of Joe Farrell you were pretty much fucked.Joe also `had the door`on a lot of bars and clubs on the northside of Dublin.`Having the door` in Dublin basically meant he provided security on your drinking establishment whether you wanted it or not.I remember this one fella who owned a bar in the city told Joe “he wasnt giving him a fuckin penny and to fuck off and that Joe was nothin but a fuckin chancer”.Joe smiled at him and told him that was no problem and that he respected his stance,That very night the guys bar was burned to the ground.Joe was a very straight forward guy,to him everything was black and white,he could be one cold fuck,but sometimes he honestly was a really great guy,he was married with three daughters,he used to joke about how he was running this that and the other in the city but had no say in his own fuckin house because of all the women in it.
It was in one of Joes bars in the city that the incident happened that changed the course of my life.
It had been a hot July day in 1976 and myself and Micka Martin were after been working doing collections all over Dublin,so we decided to go for a few pints in a bar in the city when we were finished.We met up a few guys we knew and I had told my girlfriend of a year and a half Barbara to come and meet us,so we were all set for a good night.It was early in the evening when one of the lads I was sitting with casually mentioned that one of the top men in the IRA Dublin Brigade Martin Lynch was after getting out of prison that day and had been on the piss all day.Lynch who was from North county Dublin would have been somewhat seen as an equal to Joe Farrell in regards of rank in the IRA.But the difference was that Joe was liked by people in our circles because of the way he did things and could be a good laugh,Lynch was just a fuckin bully boy,a bastard of a human being with all the charm of a fuckin cockroach.So we all groaned when we heard he was out.He had been put away for gouging a guys eye out of its socket just because he spilled a drink on him by accident.The man in question was 60 years old.
Right fuckin tough man eh Martin?No chance you would do it to one of us Martin as you know you`d have got opened up (hope your reading this you fuckin degenerate coward)
So we were all in the bar having a good time when at about ten oclock who walks in the fuckin door only this fuckin scum bag.He was as obnoxious a person as you could get, he was the type that was that loud mouthed you heard them before you saw them.So he stumbles in and orders his drink and starts shouting “Wheres Joe Farrell hiding,that prick owes me money!”
Now if Joe had been there, there is no doubt in my mind that guy would have died a horrible death.
So the fat fuck sees us all sitting down the back of the bar and starts coming towards us,still mouthing about Joe.
I said to Micka hes not sitting down here with us fuck that,so I went to meet him half way and walked back to the bar with him.
He started again about Joe owing him,what the fuck he thought Joe owed him I still dont know,but as he finished that rant he turned his attention to me.”Who the fuck are you to be talking to me anyway ye little go for prick”?I said “Hey take it fuckin easy Martin,dont talk to me like that,I know who you are and that your capable but Im tellin ye know I wont put up with your shite tonight” He starts gesturing with his hands “Im only joking with ye man,Im only out and I got pissed drunk okay no offence meant”,and with that put his hand out for me to shake,which I did.So I bought him a drink to show no hard feelings and thats when it happened.
He leaned in to me and said “whos the girl thats sitting beside you?”So I said “Thats Barbara me other half”,I called her over and introduced her and as she walked back to the table,the slimey bastard whispered in my ear “You call that a woman?Shes a fuckin mess that girl isnt she hahahaha”
Something just snapped inside me, I started to see just white spots in my eyes because before I knew what happened I had just broken a pint glass and stuck it straight into Martin Lynchs throat.The blood just sprayed everywhere, all across me,the bar ,the other customers…everywhere..The lads I was with jumped up and grabbed me out of the bar.”Johnny what the fuck are you after doin?” Micka said to me.I was still pist with anger after what the bastard had said and wanted to go back in and kill him.
Eventually they got me in a car and we sped off.
The next day I got a phone call from an associate of Joe Farrell to meet Joe at a cafe in North Dublin.I arrived just after ten to be met by Joe and another Provo who I`m not going to name.They asked what happened and how it happened,so I explained the situation best I could, I mean its hard to justify glassing someone in the throat after the fact.Then the unnamed Provo told me what I was dreading, “John, Lynch died in the ambulance last night,the glass severed his jugular and he lost to much blood” I looked like I didnt give a shit but inside I honestly knew I was fucked!The IRA in many ways resemble the Italian Mafia in its structure although with two completley different goals.What I had done was like killing a made member of the Mafia,even though he was a sick vile fucking excuse of a human being,he was a top man in the IRA who in the past had served sixteen years in prison for shooting dead a British soldier while on `active duty` in England.The reason Joe wanted to meet with me so quick was that he was told by the top of the IRA to bring me in for questioning,but because Joe had brought me into his circle all those years ago and been in prison with as well as been a life long friend of my brother,he told me this “John,I dont have to tell you how serious this is.The way they (The IRA Council) are looking at it is a civilian has killed an honourary soldier and has to be paid back in kind,and thats why your here”.I tried to explain ” Joe I dont know what….” he interrupts me, “Shut up John just shut the fuck up and listen to me,if it was anyone else they would be already be dead,Im telling you now,you have three days,get the fuck out of Ireland and dont come back ever”.I was shocked and delighted and nervous as fuck all at the same time,so instead of prolonging it I just nodded,agreed and thanked him.”Im serious John John (as I was sometimes called by him) you cant come back here,they will kill you on sight and there is cops looking for you all over the city”,with that he hands me a note with an address on it,”This is a friend of mines address in Manhattan,he`s expecting you you`ll be safe there,he`ll set you up with a job so get going,oh and take this too”,he hands me an envelope with ten grand in it,”Get goin John, dont comeback ye hear me”.We shook hands and I left,thats the last time I ever seen Joseph Patrick Farrell.
So there I was 29 years old on my way to New York,told I couldnt go back to Ireland and had just killed a man.
My life would never be the same again.
I’ll need to come back to this when I have a night off !
Hi Christy, my fiancee (Olivia) and I are back home from Canada for a few days doing some wedding planning and we managed to make some time to come up and see you tonight (May 2nd) in Belfast. She has listened to you since we met 7 years ago and is really looking forward to seeing you live. Two of her most favourites are Beeswing and Black is the color. Also, I spoke to my mum today who told me that my late father Michael Mahon used to trim your donkeys hooves many years ago! She might of been having me on but gave me a giggle all the same. Looking forward to tonights gig. All the best
Safe travels to you and all the crew on the road to Belfast. Looking forward to a couple of good gigs after too long of a gap. Had the great pleasure of hearing Luka in Limavady last Friday – in fine voice as always. You’re always sure of a great welcome under the shadow of the black mountain. Always great gigs.
is it yourself…long time no see
Christy I watched the gold cup before going upstairs to pack the bag with the longjohns, bunnet ,some socks and a pair of binoculars to travel over for three next days in Punchestown. I come downstairs, to gather a small bottle of Hawick gin for the racing hipflask (below 100cl in case it is considered an airline weapon), to see that Ruby has retired.
One of the great jockeys to rank alongside the likes of Ron Barry, Mickeyjo and Tommy Kinane, McCoy, Jonjo, Davy Russell, Pat Taaffe and TP Burns. May he have a long and restful retirement skipping off the track while singing Ride On , Sodom & Begorra and Ruby.
I imagine you will add Ruby’s song to some upcoming set lists, it was a special night in ’18 to hear you sing his song to him at the Killashee.
Now the race is on to be the next jockey to have their ability written of and sung to by you and Dec, Rachel Blackmore perhaps the next most deserving one?
stall the digger Rory,
cant handle the pressure here
good luck in Punchestown
Looking forward to seeing you Thursday night in Belfast, my husband introduced me to your music on a road trip round Ireland from Cork to Belfast.
Looking forward to it myself….good man, your husband
Looking forward to Friday’s gig in Belfast! Wonder if you’ll be playing Rosalita & Jack Campbell again. Last Belfast gig i was at, it reduced the gentleman sitting beside me to tears. Beautiful song!
having read your post makes it more likely..thanks
Christy, what does ”Your comment is awaiting moderation”‘ mean when I put up a comment/ballad on the guestbook?. How do I deal with that?
Best of luck for this week in Belfast
I have not got a clue but I’ll check it out
Ans on postcard: The Green Briar on the skirts of the Black Mountain!
Either Queen’s University with Planxty or The Green Briar…maybe the first should be last and the last…or Beechmount Leisure Centre with helicopters providing the spotlights!
Friday 13th October 1972
with John Martyn
spot prize coming your way
We’ll be in the Waterfront on Thursday with our friends Conor and Ann Neeson. We’ve been going to your gigs together for what seems like a lifetime. if it’s not too late to put in a request for Bright Blue Rose you would make Ann’s night.
Thanks Hilary for posting link to Míchéal Ó Súilleabhàin…a lovely rendition of The Two Conneeleys. Love that song…nice one Christy!
From Black Mountain to Bog Meadow
And then on to Short Strand..
my first Belfast gig was 1972
I doubt if anyone remembers it apart from myself
spot prize for the first correct answer here
I don’t know if you crossed paths with the Blackpool Taverners during your spell round Manchester and Lanky a thousand years ago. Sad news comes to us that the last man standing, Alan Bell, passed away the other day. He wrote many fine songs in the traditional idiom such as “Bread and Fishes”, “Windmills”, and “So here’s to you and our times together, I’ll share with you now a parting glass”. They often played the MSG and a pound to a penny you knew them. Ah well such is life. Hope you and yours are keeping well. Take care
I did indeed…first met The Taverners at the MSG in Manchester and subsequently gigged twice at their rocking, chocker-block Folk club in Blackpool in the late 1960s. It was one of those clubs where the resident band always topped the bill,no matter who was booked for the night…I supped a few pints with “Big” Pete and I am sorry to read of Alan’s passing….they were a great Band and it was a pleasure to know them
PS a list of clubs where resident bands ruled the roost would include ….The High Level Ranters in Newcastle, Ian Cambell Group in Birmingham, The Watersons in Hull, MacColl and Seeger in London,The Marsden Rattlers near Southshields,The Beggarmen in Manchester,The Spinners in Liverpool,…
Hi All, thanks for the two magical gigs in the wonderful venue in Limerick, it’s worth mentioning that not a sound from the gale force storm that was raging outside was audible on Fri night. Many listeners on here have mentioned how good the gigs are, this takes preperation and dedication ,they are always fresh ,the great sound ,the constant updating of both songs and setlists. etc There is always a surprise or two, whether its a rare gem of a song or a dedication to those present ( or absent ) or the reference to current events ( both sad and happy ) or the jokes or the banter between the orchestra and even the crew on occassion ! Tribute was paid to the late Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin on both nights,,, here is the link to a piece from his innovative TV series River of Sound https://youtu.be/WH0MFI2qF9Y Beir bua agus beannacht. H
Thanks for unearthing and posting that session with Mícheál, I cherish the memory….he leaves a wonderful legacy of Music and Educational Facility….happy travels and greetings to all 4711ers you encounter along the way
Here we go Christy, this link will give you a flavour of the tune I had in mind for the Belfast Ballad.
https://instaud.io/3BPG – Belfast Born and Bred
Here’s the other ballad I mentioned, The Cause is Peace, with a link to a little flavour of a tune for that one too.
https://instaud.io/3BPE – The Cause is Peace
The Cause is Peace
Today, I watched a funeral pass
I wondered who he was
I hoped this “Dad” died peacefully
Not fighting someone’s cause
For we fought too long
And lost too much
And cried a million tears
And prayed to God at gravesides
And God never seemed to hear
Our loved ones died on all sides
From the Orange or the Green
Or blown to bits on a Belfast street
Fighting for the Queen
And young and old were slaughtered
Caught cruelly in our fight
And shattered families left to grieve
Beside a coffin white
The wreaths spelt out our loved and lost
A Grandad, Dad, a Mum
A Celtic or a Rangers fan
Some mother’s only Son
So let’s channel all our courage
Let’s make our foe our friend
Stand side by side and shout it loud
Our fight is at an end
Forgive, look to the future
Don’t stay prisoner to the past
Hand in hand, let’s make our land
An isle of peace at last
For peace must shape tomorrow
Help heal our deepest pain
No one should lead our people
Down that suffering road again
For you’ll fight too long, and lose too much
And cry a million tears
And pray to God at gravesides
And God won’t seem to hear
And when we watch your funeral pass
And loved ones mourn your loss
We’ll know that you died needlessly
Dying without cause
Dying bloodied, needlessly
Dying without cause
We attended the concert in Limerick last night and had a wonderful experience. ‘The Voyage’ was incredibly poignant for both Mike and I as it brings to mind one of our ‘Crew’ that completed his life’s journey at a very young age. Thank you, I love to have his wonderful smile brought to my mind.
I have also been asked to pass on best wishes from Barry (Scarriff) and Marie (Manchester) O’Beirne (my parents). Looking forward to catching you in concert again.
Marcia, Michael McDonagh.
Morra Marcia.Thanks for your feedback…its a wonderful venue….arriving into UCL Plassey evokes the same excitement as arriving into Scariff 47 years ago….when the Planxty van would park at the Merriman Tavern ….
such a different world now but the music lives on….
Thanks for your sharing, “The Voyage” has crossed generations since I first learned it from Johnny Duhan and got his blessing to record it….its a song that touches upon the hopes and the losses of many listeners….it paints many pictures for me every time I sing it…
Great too to hear from Barry and Marie..please give them my best wishes wherever they may be
We made the trip down to Limerick last night. You are simply getting better each time we see you Declan, Jimmy and Cathal. What an evening of sweet music song and entertainment. My first visit to the venue, hope to see you there again as it was, as I said simply the best. Lovely to hear some old favourites mixed in with the new. Thanks to everyone involved. Jean D & P
Thank You Jean,
The Concert Hall at University College Limerick is one of the very best venues on the circuit….there is no other campus in Ireland that engages so well with local community….
This Band is working very well…we are focused and tight….rehearsals happen when we are on the road….our back up team is very committed ….whether its gigging,rehearsing or recording, no effort is spared in the preparation….when the lights go down and the gig starts everything possible has been done for the four of us to deliver….as we perform in the spotlight there is a hardworking team behind us keeping the show on the road….
as for the songs and music….the four of us beaver away doing the work we love, each of us immersed in our own very varied practice….. each time we reassemble we bring new ideas to keep the process in motion
Having such a great following of listeners and supporters gives us fuel to continue on this journey, we greatly appreciate all that ye contribute….
it started for me back in 1966 but has never been more enjoyable then it was in Plassey last night…..on the Banks of The Broad Majestic Shannon….
Hats off to Chuck Feeney !
Next Stop Belfast…..when the Sun goes behind The Black Mountain
My better half and I are planning on a honeymoon in Ireland as long as we can see you live. When do you think we will see gigs for April 2020 posted online?
Criostóir a cara,
I can only offer you an approximate answer,we usually post about 6-8 months in advance- wishing you both the very best….hope the right gig comes along to fit your itinerary
hi Christy Michael and myself would like to say a huge thanks for a great night at limerick concert hall and thanks for doing hiro and all the other great songs brilliant stuff we look forward to going to see ye again soon all the best john and Michael
and thank you for your call out and your feedback…
its a such a good room for music….apart from the acoustics, the setting, the campus but most of all, the staff and the great production crew….
often over looked, its the backroom team that do the heavy lifting, tweak the sound, focus the lights, prepare the stage,
our crew were in the venue from 11am yesterday and did not finish until after 11 pm..they were fully assisted by the Chuck Feeney crew all the way
and now we turn our attention to tonights performance….it will l be fresh again come 8pm this evening
May the Music keep our spirits high
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