“Hi folks. As I sit here in this strange place between worlds, I can’t help reflecting on my time in Sligo over the past few years. I really feel blessed to have experienced being a part of such a wonderful community of musicians, arts workers (and civilians). I think my favourite gigs I have ever done were on tour with Thom Moore and Seamie O’Dowd, the three of us singing together in three part harmony. I really miss those gigs and feel a deep sense of sadness that they won’t occur again. Playing with Seamie has been amazing, educational, exciting, challenging and beautiful and gave me such a sense of safety and freedom to explore and grow as a musician. I worked with a variety of musicians and producers in the years before I came to Ireland and never has someone so easily understood, translated and expressed my music in the way I felt it was meant to be expressed. I have no idea how I will continue my work without him.
I have experienced much joy in having Seamie, Kieran Quinn, Anna Houston, Steve Wickham, James Blennerhassett, Jim Higgins, Ray Coen, Darragh Houston and Gerry Grennan play either on my album, or live with me, or both, and enjoyed singing on albums by Seamie, Kieran, No Crows, Mairtin O’Connor Band and Tony Reidy. I have enjoyed wonderful performances and jams with all of the above, as well as Felip Carbonell, Eddie Lee, Brian McDonough, Rick Epping, Cillian Houston, Collette Sheerin, Oleg Ponomarev, Tabby Callaghan, Ken “Tonto” McDonald, Mike Nielsen, Seamie McGowan, Eoin Troy, Dave Flynn, Out of Towners and countless others. Kieran Quinn’s Themed Nights have brought so much joy to so many people, including me, and I think they really did a lot to bring the musical community even closer together. To perform to large audiences, accompanied by either a huge band or the Sligo Sinfonietta Orchestra, led by the consummate Niamh Crowley, was truly an amazing feeling. I was blessed, too, to perform with the Sligo Baroque Orchestra on a number of occasions, playing flute, but most enjoyably, singing baroque songs. This was a new experience for me, and the opportunity to perform this exquisite old music with Rod Alston, Anna, Steve, Marie O’Byrne and many others, is one which I truly value.
I met, photographed and befriended other musicians along the way, which, too, was rewarding. I was so warmly embraced by Tara McGowan at The Model Arts Centre in so many ways and enjoyed many performances there. I was also becoming very familiar with performing at the Hawk’s Well Theatre in recent times and received generous support with photographing many Sligo musicians there.
Upon hearing that I was to return to my native land, so many of you made me feel wrapped up in warmth, kindness and welcome, should I ever return to what some of you referred to as my second home. Your responses, emails, texts, cards, presents, hugs and big love were like a warm blanket around my shoulders. Guys, I just want to say, once again, thank you.
This is probably the saddest picture I’ve ever posted. Mine and Seamie’s guitars together, hopefully not for the last time.
Siúl le grá agus ceol, mo chairde.
See the responses here.