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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.

- Interview: Peter McGoran

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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