In order to drown out my infant cries my parents resorted to playing records of The
St. Peter’s Ceili Band and Lonnie Donegan. The crying stopped so the records became
a nightly routine. My parents were keen ceili-goers and my grandfather was a great
singer and melodeon player, so it wasn’t long before I got involved myself. First
singing at family parties I then graduated onto the tin whistle, melodeon and finally
the button accordion and duly took my place in the local Green Velvet Ceili Band.
Over the years I’ve been through a series of ceili bands, folk-rock bands and Irish
trad groups but there was always a pull from another side. I also played, and sometimes
sang, with rock bands, country and bluegrass groups, jazz, western-swing, cajun and
blues musicians. When I eventually started to write my own songs these genres influenced
me a great deal though there was always something indelibly Irish that remained.
Whilst on the instrumental side I’ve remained firmly rooted in Irish traditional
music as a singer I’ve tended to cast my net a bit wider. With songs, I would say
it’s the song itself rather than any particular genre which influences my choice.
Some songs just feel right when you get into them. Others you can try on for a while
and maybe decide it isn’t you. Many of my songs are very old folk songs, mostly from
Ireland and Scotland, whilst others are from contemporary songwriters or self-penned.
And of course every song has a story to it.
Though I’ve had some very good guitarists to accompany me in the past these days
I generally prefer to accompany myself. Because of this personal connection with
these songs there’s a wonderful freedom and oneness when I can work my voice and
the guitar together in delivering a song and telling the story. Every night it can
be a bit different according to the audience, the venue or how I’m feeling, so each
performance is in some way unique. Another advantage is the large repertoir I can
draw from, ranging from old, long cherished favourites to my latest new discoveries.
There’s always something interesting just around the next corner.
Over the last couple of years I’ve appeared solo and with my own trad formation The
Ceol Flies, guested with Ostrava based folk- rock band Ostrá tráva and been involved
in a number of musical projects of varying styles. If you would like to book myself
or the Ceol Flies or would like me to guest with your band you can contact me at: