I think we marked 1916 well. It wasn’t jingoistic or triumphalist and it looked at how the impact of the Rising impacted on all sides
triumphalist and it looked at how the impact of the Rising impacted on all sides. There’s nothing simplistic about history and 1916 really demonstrates that.”
Like his contemporary Damien Dempsey, O’Rourke appears to have little interest in writing songs that might be seen to be radio-friendly or Spotify-honed. “First of all, that’s not such an easy thing to do,” he says with a laugh, “but I’m someone whose work is motivated by things that aren’t necessarily common themes for songwriters.”
The Dubliner has tasted chart success and a handful of his songs would be certainties on any contemporary Great Irish Songbook. Few, though, could have anticipated that a song about the Italian astronomer and philosopher, Galileo Galilei, would become so emblematic of his work — including O’Rourke himself.
“I had no sense that it [‘Galileo (Someone Like You)’] would be loved by people that much,” he says. “I guess it’s an old-fashioned song and there’s a sort of crooning quality to it and I’ve long been drawn to that kind of singing.
“But,” he adds, “I think I’ve written better songs than it.”
Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine is out now. Declan O’Rourke’s nationwide tour starts at Black Box, Galway, on December 2