Most-read blogs of 2019

2019 in Review: Part 6 So here’s the biggest lesson I learned in 2019 – If you want to make changes in your life, creating new habits is a more effective way of doing so than setting goals. For example, I could have said on Jan 1 2019 that my goal for 2019 was to write a blog every day that year. Like many New Years Resolutions, I went well for the start of the year, but come the end of February I stopped, and only blogged sporadically for the months March – May. So if I had set the specific goal mentioned above – there it is gone. Failed. What do I do now? However the work I did in January and February in making daily blogging a habit paid off as the year went on. When I was ready to begin blogging again in June I used the techniques I had learnt at the start of the year,

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Another Star

2019 in Review: Part 5 September brought Theme Night #24 – where we paid tribute to Mr. Stevie Wonder. This song summed up this particular run of Theme Nights for me – for a number of reasons. Firstly, I had never heard it before. Neither had most of the gang involved. But that was one great thing about doing a run of Stevie Wonder shows – he has such a huge catalogue of music that many of us discovered new gems along the way. Secondly, so much of his music can be made BIG. Choirs, horns, strings, throw in whatever you want and the music can probably take it – it’s so rich in harmony yet so melodic. And finally – like many theme night performers, Eoin chose this partly because he had never done it before. He threw it at us in Connolly’s one Monday night and ripped it up, but I’m not sure even he was prepared for

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2019 in Review: Part 4

The Teenage Theme Nights went from strength to strength in 2019, led by a small but powerful 6th Yr Unit. I have chosen this song as a highlight for a number of reasons, mainly because it really shouldn’t have worked! Our end-of-year showcase is usually planned meticulously, rehearsed well and delivered to a high standard. This song ticked the last box but neither of the other two. Julie had trouble choosing a song. She eventually settled on this one on the Friday, with the show on Saturday. Despite the short timeframe involved, she wanted it to be big – with 30 teenagers singing it with her, and in fairness to the gang they signed up and then showed up. We had 25 minutes set aside on the Saturday afternoon to arrange and then rehearse it and Julie herself was ten minutes late because of a class. Yet they nailed it. How? Well firstly she had a really strong core group

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When the Colombians took over Connolly’s…

Part 3 of the Year in Review is a story – from one of the more eventful Monday nights in Connolly’s this year. All names have been changed. Except Seamie’s! John wants to be a full-time musician. He has a day job (a good one in the City of London), but has written and recorded an album and really wants to gig it. One of the problems for John is that he’s shy and finds it difficult to get up the courage to perform in public. Despite knowing all of the above about him, I don’t know John well. He heard about me through a mutual friend and came to me in the summer with his situation and asked me for advice. He was back in Sligo one week in the autumn and came to see Seamie and I play our regular Monday night gig. But this was no ordinary Monday. Because it was the day that Maurice Lynch was

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2019 in Review: Part 2

I wrote lots of music this year, but it was mainly instrumental. I did write one song however – and I must say I had great fun writing it with my friend Con O’Meara and recording it with James McManus and some of the 2019 Teenage Theme Night gang. For the record – here are the lyrics of the song…you can see and hear the whole song on my Facebook page here. VERSE 1: I dreamt a dream the other night – I couldn’t sleep a wink My shirt got washed with something red and turned a nasty pink The heel was falling off my shoe and my socks they wouldn’t pair There were beer stains in my jacket and my trousers were threadbare So I got up from under the blanket and went up to the fireplace There was Conor McGregor and Nathan Carter and Eamonn O’Hara And the three of them staring me in the face And suddenly

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How can we make the Christmas spirit last?

Former Armagh All-Ireland winner Oisin McConville was in Palestine with Trocaire recently. I heard an interview with him on his return on the Second Captains podcast. He couldn’t get over how resilient the people there were, how little they had, and how they still managed to be cheerful from day to day. He said it’s a lot easier to live in the moment with the people there because there are less distractions and less material temptations. They just get on with life. He said that he noticed when he returned home that he was a better person. With his children and others. Really being present with people, listening to them and spending time with them in a way that he wouldn’t have before the trip. He then said that he had been like this for two weeks, but reckoned it would ‘only last another week before he rejoined the rat race’. And I’m reminded of that this interview this Christmas

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A big event can often bring excitement. It doesn’t have to be Christmas. It could be a trip away with friends, an important gig, or a big match for the team you support. The event itself doesn’t always live up to expectations. Parents all around the country will be hoping that’s not the case, but some children will be disappointed tomorrow, just like the trip or gig or game won’t always end as you hoped it would. But that doesn’t negate the excitement you felt, the hope, the buzz of anticipation. Because it’s a feeling that stands on its own, separate to the outcome of the event. It might make a negative outcome harder to take, but that shouldn’t stop you embracing it. Enjoy the excitement.

The eve of Christmas Eve…

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. A day defined by the day that follows it. And as the sun sets on today, and we say goodbye to Dec 23 2019, it’s a reminder that Dec 24 2019 is a day that should stand on its own merits. Because if every day is defined by the one that follows it, we lose the essence of living in the present. That’s all we have. And it’s good to be reminded of it every so often.

Last gig of the year!

Over 15 years ago I took a long bus journey through Argentina, Chile and Peru. 52 hours. Just me, the scenery and a discman. I made a list of 10 songs (I remember My Baby Just Cares for Me and Ice Cream Man were two) on that trip and I thought – wouldn’t it be nice firstly to know how to play these, and secondly, to get to play them in public? Even once. And sometimes when I’m reflecting on things, as often happens at the end of a year, I think back to this journey, and it makes me appreciate every gig – indeed every song I get to play. And so the last official gig of 2019 is upon us. Some of tonight’s crew ready for action in the pic below. And so – to everyone with whom I have shared a stage, pit, corner, studio or classroom – thankyou. It’s a dream come true to get to

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