Mar­garet Barry - ‘Street Songs and Fid­dle Tunes’

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS - Donal Di­neen

Be­fore mu­sic there was God. They came to me in that or­der. Christ­mas and Easter were when the choirs struck up and it was my first ex­pe­ri­ence of live singing and it floored me. Even to the ears of a young boy there was a dis­cernible shift in mood be­tween the two sea­sons. A lot of how we per­ceive mu­sic has to do with the con­text in which we hear it. Christ­mas was like a dream in that sense. Coloured lights twin­kling from nor­mally un­lit win­dows. In­cense and bou­quets of flow­ers bor­der­ing on the fab­u­lous. The mu­sic sounded pretty good amongst all that. The dream was on.

The vil­lage of Knock­na­gree was five miles north but straight up­hill, and on starry nights the sound of mu­sic would make its way down the val­ley to my bed­room win­dow.

The an­nual De­nis Mur­phy Me­mo­rial Week­end up there was my first solo ven­ture to a gig of any sort. I struck gold with the first house I ven­tured into. It was a dry house. No al­co­hol or in­stru­ments, roughly in that or­der. Solo singing only. Voices and noth­ing else. The pure drop. It was a heav­enly way to start.

When I hear a great singer such as Radie Peat or Lisa O’Neill nowa­days, I’m back in that room, sit­ting on a step half way up the stairs, lis­ten­ing to Christy Cronin, hold­ing my breath, drink­ing it all in, dizzy with the joy of it all.

The bike was cy­cled back down­hill at dou­ble speed, nav­i­gated by a freshly blown mind whirring faster than the spokes. I cast my net wider from that day on. I had been look­ing for love in all the wrong places.

Soon af­ter, I dis­cov­ered Mar­garet Barry. She was still alive at the time but her work was done. I was knocked side­ways by her ver­sion of The Fac­tory Girl. She in­stilled a love of the banjo in me that res­onates to this day. The sud­den shifts in tone through the range of her voice and her unique phras­ing made for a spell­bind­ing mix. Her con­vic­tion was pal­pa­ble. When some­one sang with that kind of truth in such a beau­ti­ful way there was noth­ing to do but sur­ren­der.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.