One of the many words of wisdom for life my father used to preach to my brother and I, was “Use drink, don’t let drink use you”. As kids we’d pop in to see him in his local Neeson’s bar on the Main Street in Newbridge, Co Kildare.
I will never forget the way his eyes would light up when we would call in to see him, in the hope that the horses were kind to him, in the hope a lemonade would come our way. We never needed to worry as the lemonade was always a given and religiously as soon as he would lay our glasses down, he would burst into song! He had his favourites like ‘Liverpool Lou’ and the ‘Blackbird of my heart’. By God he could belt out a tune. Being young I would cringe, as any young teenager would at a parent making himself the centre of attention. When he reached the chorus the whole bar would join in with him raising the roof off the joint. He would look at me whilst singing away and would always give me an affectionate slap on the cheek, it was his way of saying ‘Don’t worry I’m in control’.
As I became older the ritual remained the same, but this time I’d have a pint in my hand and couldn’t wait to join in on cue in the chorus with others.
Forty years later, in January 2016, I was doing a little duo gig with Bill in the Mother Redcap, Holloway Road, North London – my dad was there as he often came to listen to us, we called him up to sing with us on stage. The songs were the same and the audience reaction at the chorus again lifted the roof and the guaranteed affectionate slap in the chops came my way, with Bill getting one himself for good measure! The encore came, he sang a couple more, he sat down, finished his pint of stout and left in a taxi for home.
It was the last time we would sing together as he became very ill and sadly passed away five months later. I was with him at the hospital when he passed over and in his final days he still had time to give his final piece of advice:
‘Use Life, don’t let life use you’.
RIP Dad xxx
Special thanks to Loic Blejean for his fantastic playing on Uileann Pipes, Frankie McLaughlin for filming and editing the video and Emily Dowling and Helen Filgate for appearing in the video.
Beggars Celts and Madmen
Welcome to our second video release – ‘Beggars Celts and Madmen’. This is the title track from our forthcoming album out for release shortly.
Below is a description of the storyline for the video and the concept and research behind the video and song. Please note you can also download the song from all the usual online retailers and music providers for your own listening enjoyment.
Can you imagine what it must have been like to live in Ireland around the year 1864? In the aftermath of the great famine of 1847 hunger and death was rife and eviction from their homes among the poor was commonplace. Those who were deemed ‘fortunate’ to leave their beloved homeland for America and other countries far and wide to strive for that better life for themselves and their relations, always attended a final mass to ask for protection and safe passage to that new life ahead. With the sadness they feel in having to leave their homeland behind, their conscience is racked with guilt and grief for taking that decision.
The Monks/Priests as sinister and terrifying as they look are actually harmless, but the emigrants see them differently as they feel they are betraying their parish by leaving and the Monks/Priests are frowning upon them for this reason. The epic journeys of these poor brave souls would have meant many challenges and hardships along the way.
Frankie, the whistle player in the video, represents those who were misguided and failed in their quest for a better life by being led astray. Hence the Pied Piper to failure!
Anna, the Banshee in the video, represents the more disastrous elements of their journey, in which a lot of the emigrants through illness and disease, never made it on those terrible ‘coffin ships’ with their final resting place being a dark and watery grave beneath the ocean and far from home.
Emily, the child in the red dress, represents the innocence and vulnerability of those poor emigrants who were led astray by both the Banshee and the Pied Piper’s sinister ways.
This song is dedicated to the memory of those brave Men, Women and Children that made those journey’s, who worked, fought and died to make a better life for themselves and their kin. To Celts all around the world, your hearts are with us.
The CD version only of the forthcoming album – Beggars Celts and Madmen will have full printed lyrics for this song and all the other songs featured on it. Make sure you buy an authorised CD to enjoy these benefits.
Special thanks to John Devine who played tin whistle on the track: johndevinemusic.com
Please Don’t Send Me Home
Camden Town, a bustling multi-cultural gem of a place in North West London. With its stalls, markets, foreign food restaurants, music bars, canals. Always full of party revellers, music lovers, trend setters and the obligatory odd freak thrown in for measure.
Back in the late 50’s to the early 90’s it had a very heavily populated Irish community. Most of the bars were Irish run, the clientele all Irish working in construction whether chippy, fixer, labourer – you could rest assure the bulk of them worked for John Murphy’s empire at some stage of their life. The ladies were mainly housewives, cleaners or nurses.
Bars were in abundance, such as the Golden Lion, The Elephant’s Head, Dublin Castle, The Oxford Arms and the Brighton to name but a few and always full to the brim with folk unwinding after their days graft.
Bill and myself moved to London in the early 80’s, the new breed of emigrants trying to make a crust and a new life in the big city.
When the idea of the song came about, we discussed over a pint or ten, how crazy and hilarious the craic was in the bars, clubs and ballroom, the lock-ins to the early hours, the cashing of the pay checks on a Thursday to drink and party with until a Tuesday. The Monday club drinking sessions, testosterone rife in charming the ladies to try and get a night of passion in the nursing home. It was an unlimited free zone to the disgust of the elder statesmen, but we didn’t care at the time. The video for the track shows bottles being smashed over heads and free for all, but the reality was, we never used weapons or bottles! Slaps were fair and hard, there were occasions I had to suck on a rasher of bacon as my jaw would be too sore to chew.
One lasting memory was watching two lads outside the Gresham Ballroom on the Holloway Road, North London knocking tend loads of sh*te out of each other. The fight continued the best part of 600 yards down the Holloway road until they stopped outside a late bar/restaurant called Noreen’s – they stopped, agreed a draw fight and went into Noreen’s ending up on the beer together until 6am!