The blog

So blogging is now a thing for me. Which it wasn’t 18 months ago. And this month more of you have read the blog than in any month previous to this. So thanks. Because although the act of writing down and publishing some thoughts daily is primarily a thing I do for myself, I believe it would be far harder to keep it up if no-one was reading it. So it’s now a habit. Something I do every day. For more than the last 3 months, and before that for a period of almost 8 months, and before that for a 35-day stretch. Over a year’s worth of daily posts. And while habits are not always easy to create, there are certain things that make them easier. Including the content of the habit being something you enjoy doing. And it being regular. And you being accountable – to yourself but also to others – for it. Some blogs have been

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Memories of Theme Night #24

What a pleasure it was to play the music of Stevie Wonder. A genius no doubt. The variety in his songs, the instruments he played, the themes he captured in his lyrics, the chords he managed to get into pop songs – amazing stuff all round and we all had a great time paying tribute to him in Theme Night #24. I’ll always remember the choir number – They Won’t Go When I Go, and so many other performances from the night. Thankfully we can relive them all – you can watch all the videos on a YouTube playlist here. And lots more more pics of the shows from Kris and Dominika Manulak have just been uploaded to a Facebook album here. The winner of the Golden Jacket this time was Therese O’Loughlin Lee. Described to me as ‘the mammy of the theme nights’, the work she does on and off stage to maintain and add to the spirit of

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Bringing It Home

I finalised the titles for the tracks on my upcoming album during the week. I named the most lively and triumphant one track ‘Bringing It Home’, after a story my friend told me recently about his 10 year-old son. Let’s call him Johnny. Johnny’s parents have been working on his independence and encouraging him to do more things on his own. A few days ago, they dropped him at the local supermarket and asked him to go in, buy teabags, and walk home afterwards (approx a 10-min walk). All on his own. Johnny was nervous, but did it, and in the words of his Dad, walked in the door 6 foot tall, delighted with himself, and proudly handed over the teabags with a look of ‘I’m the man’ that lasted quite a while. Great stuff! Good man Johnny. But all of us bring it home every day, maybe several times. In our own way. It may be small things such

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Goodbyes happen for all sorts of reasons. I’m talking long-term goodbyes – like when someone moves on from a job, or when someone moves to a different town or country, or when a close relationship ends. Sometimes it’s goodbye forever, but more often you will see the person or people to whom you are saying goodbye again. But even if you knew you weren’t going to, it’s important to say goodbye well. An appropriate, well-thought out and good-natured goodbye allows people to move on, but a strained or nasty goodbye can stay with people for a long time. Why did he say that to me? Why didn’t she say that to me? Why did I leave that unsaid? Could he not just have kept that to himself? Were the words ‘thank you’ so hard to say? Did I mean that little to that person/organisation? And while a goodbye can sometimes seem like a tempting time to settle a score with

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3 facts and a command.

Some people work better in the morning. Others late at night. Everyone can divide their work into that which is really important and that which is not so crucial. It makes sense to do the really important work not when a deadline says you should, but at the time of the day when you work best. So do so.


It’s a big day for Seamie O’Dowd today. This evening he launches his latest album – ‘Live at the Hawk’s Well’ – live, at the Hawk’s Well. I could write for hours about Seamie – he is one of my musical heroes and embodies so much that is good about music and musicians. However today I’m going to limit my ramblings to two stories, both from our Monday night gigs in Connolly’s, both concerning times we had untried guest musicians ask to perform with us actually. The first one happened a few months ago, and was possibly the only time I ever saw Seamie stressed. A lady had been asking me all night if she could play the piano for one song. I didn’t know if she could play or not and so it’s hard to know what to say in a situation like that. She was quite persistent though so eventually I gave in, left her in the capable

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North Sligo

I have always been impressed with the music scene in North Sligo. A lot of my early piano students lived in the shadows of Benbulben, and so 12-15 years ago I got a real feel for the number of young musicians in the area who were passionate about their instruments, being in bands, writing music and making things happen. Even in this timeframe only, this scene has produced top quality young musicians such as Jos and Ted Kelly from Moxie, most of the members of the bands Old Hannah and Oddsocks, and recent significant contributors to theme nights and other areas such as Luke Devaney, sisters Laura May and Mary Lenehan, and brothers Sam and Ollie White. Colin Gillen ran a music venue in Barry’s for many years also, which meant that residents of the area were constantly exposed to touring bands of the highest calibre. Today on Day 2 of the Ignition Tour, the sun was shining as I

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The tour is up and running…

The Ignition Tour started today! What’s the Ignition Tour, you may ask?? Well after a very enjoyable hour spent in Sooey NS last June, I wrote this blog. I was looking to visit 5 schools, but more than twice that number responded, and so over the next two weeks I am touring the national schools of County Sligo chatting to, answering questions from, and playing music with and for the primary school students of our county. I started this morning on home turf – with the children from 3rd and 5th class in Ransboro School. And it was a wonderful hour. The following things stood out…for different reasons. The number of Queen songs they all knew – see this blog! Being asked to play I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles (the West Ham FC anthem), and being asked quickly afterwards to play You’ll Never Walk Alone and Glory Glory Man United! The on-the-money answers I got when I asked them to figure

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The Rugby World Cup

Over 5000 years ago in Co. Mayo a community of people was able to clear massive tracts of forest and then divide up the thousands of acres of land by building quarter of a million tones of stone into mile after mile of walls. This community was organized and hence capable of carrying out well-planned projects. A bit like what the teams at the Rugby World Cup are trying to do in Japan over the next 6 weeks. Be organized, and carry out well-planned projects better than their opponents can. The standard of living for these rugby teams in 2019 is a bit better than they were in the north coast of Co. Mayo in 3000odd BC, and for that we are all in debt to our ancestors, people who have worked hard and innovated so that the world would be a better place for them having lived. One principle of the Munster rugby team is that players leave the

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Saying no can be a good thing. No I can’t do that because I have prioritized something else. No I’m not going to provide that type of service because I am focusing on providing another. No I’m not going to work with you because I don’t like the way you do things. But when you publish all the things to which you could possibly say no before you are even asked, people become less inclined to ask you anything, even if it’s something to which you might say yes. It’s really important to have things that you will refuse to do. You just don’t have to publicize them all in advance.