So between you me and the wall, I’ve appeared on national television in Italy which would have many times more viewers than in Ireland, I’ve played on massive stages and I’ve entertained some very important people over the years. But nothing compared to the honor of featuring in the Fleadh program on Friday 12th April. To say it is probably going to be the highlight of my year is not even coming close.
My grand father is 90. I went over to visit him today and he put it better than I could. Unfortunately I forget exactly what he said but he knows the real reason that I play music. It’s the effect it has on people. Especially with the pipes, they can make you sit back and think when you’re sad but put them with a driving beat on a guitar and they can make you want to get up and dance. But it is the same for me as the player. When I’m performing something sad, I can sit back and just listen and enjoy the sound of the notes and the harmony with the regulators and the drones.
It could be considered that I’m really pushing self promotion here. I can certainly see how anyone and everyone would think that. I’ve started Music at the Gate, ceol FM and a few sessions in Drogheda. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say I’ve grabbed the animal by the horns when I heard the Fleadh was coming to Drogheda and I’ve done a lot to get music going in my town. But believe it or not, it’s actually not for direct personal gain. A friend of mine has a daughter who’s about 17 now. I’m envious of the social circles she has been involved with from a very young age. Not envious for me right here and now, but envious because if we don’t do something in Drogheda, my own children won’t get the opertunities that children have had in Dundalk, only a few miles away. There’s a potential legacy of the Fleadh but it’s not going to happen without musicians in the area putting in the work to make it happen. That legacy could be to bring a return to Drogheda of traditional Irish music. My name is out there a lot. But it’s mainly because outside the hard working people of the Fleadh committee, I’m the only person getting out there getting music back into the pubs and out onto the streets of this town. I don’t want to be. It’s a lot of pressure but I gladly take it on because I want nothing more than to let my children have the chance to enjoy playing music as much as I do. Of course, if they don’t play, that’s entirely up to them, but I want to give them that choice. Even if they don’t play, other children in the next 10 to 20 years could benefit so that’s enough for me. Jasus. That sounds like I have an offel big head and that I’m not enjoying every second of this. That’s not what I mean. Maybe I’m just lucky. I have amazing supports around me. Annie McGinley, Anne McVey, Aine Walsh, Graine Berril, Eoghan Darcey, Karen Devine, Maria Clarke, Eimer King, Eimear O’Cane, the Order of Malta, the Design gallery, the Highlanes Gallery, North East Marquees, The Grey Goose, Sarsfields, Barney Macs and of course, my wife, father and my entire family. I have had support from day one when I started gathering speed in preparation for the Fleadh in 2018. I also love every minute of playing music so I’m incredibly fortunate.
There are musicians in Drogheda and the surrounding areas that I couldn’t do this without. Noreen McManus, Malachy McArdle, Roisin Ward Morrow, Sean Conway, Bríd Dunne, Mick Dunne, Feargal Barnes, Brefney Hoolahan, Maria Clarke, Daithi Carney, Gerry Breen, John O’Reilly, Brendan Matthews and many many more.
I really can’t do this without the support of local musicians and I know they all have their own lives and their own responsibilities. Hopefully they will be able to join me for Music at the Gate again this year or all of this will fall very flat very quickly.