This much I know Luka Bloom

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Upfront - In con­ver­sa­tion with Hi­lary Fen­nell

I still re­mem­ber the strange feel­ing of bond and con­nec­tion I had the mo­ment I first held a gui­tar, aged nine.

I’m 52 now and still get the same feel­ing to­day when it presses against my body.

As a child, I liked be­ing on stage, but that rock n roll cliché you hear, of peo­ple throw­ing up be­fore they go on stage, is kind of true. It never got quite that bad for me but if I’m hon­est it’s only in the last 15 years of so that I’ve been able to feel re­laxed in front of au­di­ences. I’m a so­cia­ble loner.

I re­ally like peo­ple and l love in­ter­act­ing with them but in or­der to do what I do, I need plenty of quiet time. Long pe­ri­ods of such time are spent not writ­ing any­thing at all. This means that ev­ery time I go to the well in search of the songs, I feel ter­ri­fied, but this is the feel­ing I’m af­ter: it pro­tects me from the dread of re­peat­ing my­self. The trait I most ad­mire in oth­ers is kind­ness.

As some­one who wants to write songs for a liv­ing, I need to be on the out­side of things. The word out­sider can have neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions but I don’t think I suf­fer from ‘ter­mi­nal unique­ness’ any more than the next per­son. I don’t take it all too se­ri­ously. We’re all in this to­gether. I’ve had a cou­ple of chal­lenges so far. One is an is­sue which af­fected my whole fam­ily: the pre­ma­ture pass­ing of my dad, who left my mother a widow at 33.

She raised six of us on her own and that fa­mil­iar chal­lenge spilled on to later life for me when I took to the drink for a while not even aware that the two things were con­nected.

When I turned 27, that was a piv­otal year for me. Peo­ple had been point­ing things out to me, about my drink­ing. But it wasn’t un­til a guy I didn’t know very well took me aside af­ter see­ing me in ac­tion one night and said, ‘you do re­alise you are go­ing to kill your­self if you con­tinue like this?’ At first I was an­gry, but he was right, and he was so brave. That burst me wide open.

My idea of mis­ery is hav­ing a job. It has been one of the mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tors in my life since I was 15, al­though I like to think I work hard at my mu­sic.

Barry Moore is who I am and Luka Bloom is what I do, it’s a brand for my work and is all about the songs.

Hav­ing Christy Moore for an older brother has been more of an in­spi­ra­tion to me than any­thing else. There were pe­ri­ods of frus­tra­tion of course, it’s in­evitable, when he was ris­ing to fame in Planxty and Mov­ing Hearts, but all the chal­lenges were to do with my­self and my at­ti­tude.

Our mother had a huge in­flu­ence on all of her chil­dren - she was pro­foundly de­cent and it was a pri­or­ity for her that we would re­main close.

What ir­ri­tates me most about other peo­ple is de­nial. I find it es­pe­cially frus­trat­ing that at a time when cli­mate change is so se­ri­ous and po­ten­tially fa­tal, that so many choose to re­main in de­nial about it.

I live out­side Lis­can­nor, in County Clare. I moved here from Kil­dare for many rea­sons – the sea, the Bur­ren, the lime­stone walks and the mu­si­cal­ity of the peo­ple.

I guess I feel like part of the com­mu­nity no mat­ter where I am. I even felt that way when I lived in New York in the early 90s.

I have no idea if there is an af­ter life. I don’t give time to think­ing about it. I re­gard liv­ing in the now as be­ing the most spir­i­tual act any­one can do. I don’t al­ways do it, re­gret or shame for the past of­ten steps in the way of be­ing present, but I be­lieve one’s jour­ney is largely a jour­ney for peace.

The les­son so far has been, don’t take your­self too se­ri­ously, do the work and for­give as quickly as pos­si­ble – your­self in­cluded.

Luka Bloom’s lat­est al­bum ‘Refuge’ is out now and is avail­able, along with de­tails of up­com­ing tour dates, on www.luk­abloom.com

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