Ceol With It

Win­ner of Best Folk Singer at the in­au­gu­ral RTÉ Folk Awards, Lankum’s RADIE PEAT is well-placed to tell us where the best ses­sions and pints are in her na­tive Dublin – and also fills us in on her favourite spots through­out Ire­land.

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It’s a great head­line grab­ber, but Radie Peat doesn’t re­ally care much for the “Best this” and “Best that” pre xes. “I have to say gen­er­ally that I’m kind of against awards,” she laughs. “Es­pe­cially as an Ir­ish per­son, mu­sic is so in­ter­twined with so­cial life and cul­ture. Every­body just knows every­body. And there’s this com­mu­nity. So it is kind of an odd con­cept to sin­gle peo­ple out and to rank peo­ple in that way. Be­cause ev­ery­one’s just sort of com­ple­ment­ing each other.”

There’s an irony here. De­spite all Radie’s to­tally sin­cere protes­ta­tions, her group Lankum have been named win­ners of var­i­ous awards up and down the UK and Ire­land in re­cent times, mainly due to the ac­claim which has greeted their su­perb, lat­est al­bum Be­tween The Earth And Sky.

But she makes a fair point. Much of the best mu­sic in Ire­land is done in the back cor­ner of pubs with­out a thought given for ac­co­lades. What are Radie’s favourite haunts then?

“For a pint in Dublin, I’d nor­mally go to

The Hut Bar in Phib­s­boro, Gravedig­gers in Glasnevin, or Gro­gan’s in town,” she says. “Then for a tune and a pint, I’d go to

The Cob­ble­stone in Smith eld. We’d also some­times play mu­sic in Cu­miskeys in Broad­stone. Else­where, Piper’s Cor­ner on Marl­bor­ough Street is a re­ally good spot for mu­sic. Hughes, by the mar­kets, is great too, and McNeill’s on Capel Street.”

These pubs have some­thing else in com­mon. “They’d all be pubs where you wouldn’t have tel­lies blar­ing,” Radie laughs. “It’d be very calm and it’s all about in­for­mal ses­sions. It can hap­pen a lot – es­pe­cially if you’re playing mu­sic on stages all the time – that you for­get that that’s not al­ways the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment for mu­sic. So we like go­ing into these in­for­mal en­vi­ron­ments. You go into The Cob­ble­stone, and the mu­si­cians who are playing, they’re not re­ally playing for the peo­ple, they’re playing for them­selves. There’s a buzz be­tween the mu­si­cians, and it’s not per­for­ma­tive. Mu­sic has a func­tion as a so­cial out­let and a cre­ative out­let for the peo­ple playing rst; then, the fact that other peo­ple are en­joy­ing it is a nice sym­bi­otic thing.”

Are there any new venues or pubs that Radie has re­cently dis­cov­ered?

“McNeill’s on Capel Street is an un­der­val­ued mu­sic pub,” she notes. “It’s beau­ti­ful on the in­side and has some great mu­si­cians playing there, and there’s a re­ally nice re­laxed vibe about it still, be­cause I don’t think a lot of peo­ple re­ally know about the mu­sic in there yet. Hughes is a lovely one too, al­though that’s been go­ing for a long time. Piper’s Cor­ner is prob­a­bly the newest pub which does re­ally good qual­ity mu­sic. It’s run by a mu­si­cian – and he would know all the good play­ers and get a re­ally good ses­sion go­ing.”

For vis­i­tors to Dublin, what are Radie’s top rec­om­men­da­tions?

“I al­ways rec­om­mend – in­stead of go­ing to the Guin­ness Store­house or some­thing like that – a re­ally nice thing to do is go into St Michan’s on Church Street. Go in, see

the crypts, get the proper tour, be­cause it’s just bril­liant, and there’s a re­ally great tour guide who takes you round. An­other thing I would rec­om­mend is to go up to the Botanic Gar­dens, go into Glasnevin Ceme­tery, take it all in. Look at ev­ery­thing there, then go into The Gravedig­gers and have a pint in the old bar af­ter­wards. That’s a nice thing to do in Dublin and it’s pretty much all free or very in­ex­pen­sive.”

What are some of Radie’s favourite places to play out­side of the cap­i­tal?

“There are some re­ally lovely peo­ple who run con­certs and work­shops and ceilis from their home, which is ba­si­cally a farm in Li­mavady,” she says. “They call it the ‘Keady Clachan Cot­tage’. I think it’s bril­liant, a re­ally unique place to play as a mu­si­cian, and they’re the most lovely peo­ple, Micky and Joan. That’s al­ways stuck out as a mem­o­rable place.

“The Dun­cairn Arts Cen­tre in Belfast has been very good to us. For a spe­cial gig, there’s St. Luke’s in Cork – I love playing there. In fact, I love go­ing to Cork. On the whole, though, peo­ple in venues around Ire­land are very, very good. I’ve had great ex­pe­ri­ences in al­most ev­ery place I’ve played, and I’ve been lucky enough to play in a lot of venues up and down the coun­try.”

As men­tioned be­fore, Radie Peat doesn’t care much for ac­co­lades, but is it good the see the na­tional broad­caster get­ting be­hind folk mu­sic like they have with the RTÉ Folk Awards?

“It is great to see peo­ple like Andy Irvine get­ting life­time achievemen­t awards,” she ac­knowl­edges. “It’s good to see peo­ple who de­serve recog­ni­tion nally get­ting that recog­ni­tion. And it’s in­ter­est­ing that there hasn’t been that plat­form be­fore re­ally. I think it’s very good that the RTÉ Folk Awards do ex­ist, be­cause a lot of Ir­ish peo­ple were get­ting the nod from the likes of the BBC Folk Awards in re­cent years. It’s right that peo­ple are get­ting the nod at home now.”

Can she let us in on who are her favourite Ir­ish acts at the mo­ment?

“Some of my con­stant favourites are The Jimmy Cake and Katie Kim,” an­swers Radie. “I’m al­ways men­tion­ing them be­cause I think they’re bril­liant, and I think they’re some of the most un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated Ir­ish acts around. Re­cently, I’ve been lov­ing Kneecap – I think they’re do­ing re­ally in­ter­est­ing stuff with the Ir­ish lan­guage. I also love Lisa O’Neill. Then one per­son who’s re­ally im­press­ing me at the mo­ment is the singer John Fran­cis. He hasn’t re­leased much, but he’s amaz­ing. I think we’ll hear more of him in the near fu­ture.”

“Mu­sic has a func­tion as a so­cial out­let and a cre­ative out­let for the peo­ple playing, then the fact that other peo­ple are en­joy­ing it is a nice sym­bi­otic thing.”

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