Skip to content

Damien Dempsey: The poet laureate of Ireland’s forgotten

October 25, 2016

Damien Dempsey beats his chest and exhorts you to feel the pain and love he feels

I’m very grateful that a version of this review appeared on the brilliant Liverpool music website Get Into This. They are great supporters of live music and music writing in the city.

DAMIEN Dempsey is a big, bruising boxer with the beautiful heart of a poet.

He’s a modern bard who links the historic ballad tradition in Irish folk music to a youth culture equally at home with hip-hop, reggae and rave.

He is a genuine one-of-a-kind: a sympathetic, ruggedly sentimental singer songwriter who has managed to make folk music relevant again in an Ireland ravaged by the negative aspects of globalization and corporate greed.

On Sunday evening in the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Rooms, amid the dancing bodies and the throaty communal football chants of “Damo! Damo! Damo!”, he was the perfect closing act for the 2016 Liverpool Irish Festival. Read more…

PODCAST: Ian Lynch of Lynched – the best folk band working anywhere today

October 12, 2016

Lynched are an absolutely spellbinding folk band who have gained plaudits for their album Cold Old Fire, a remarkable mixture of old Dublin music hall songs, traditional ballads and original compositions.

Coming from a punk tradition, they found folk music later than many, but it hasn’t held them back and as a live act, they are almost without compare.

I spoke to Ian Lynch about how the band started, their repertoire of songs and the new traditional scene in Ireland today.

Lynched appear at the 2016 Liverpool Irish Festival on Sunday, October 16 in the Philharmonic Music Rooms. Tickets and further details available here.

PODCAST: Linda Ervine on learning Irish as a Northern Protestant and her film What the Focal!

October 12, 2016

I recorded this podcast with the brilliant Linda Ervine prior to a screening of her film What the Focal! at the 2016 Liverpool Irish Festival.

With heavy autobiographical overtones, What the Focal! follows the life of Maggie, a Northern Irish Protestant who decides to learn Irish against the wishes of her husband and community.

She appears at St Michael’s Irish Centre, Boundary Lane, Liverpool on Wednesday, October 20 at 8pm. Full details here.

New European Identities

October 12, 2016

This is the piece that I wrote for the New European about forms of national and regionalist identity in Europe.

View this document on Scribd

Liverpool and Brexit

October 12, 2016

A piece that I wrote for the New European about what Brexit might mean to Liverpool and the Merseyside region.


Michaél Ó Muircheartaigh: A tribute in text and sound

September 15, 2016

(This piece was first written and published in 2010.)

IN THIS era of wall-to-wall sport coverage, where every hack commentator turns to the US or wherever for a gimmick to set them apart in a crowded market, one man (and one voice) has set himself apart – Michaél Ó Muircheartaigh.
A Kerry man who has been one of the key voices of Irish GAA sports on RTE radio since 1949, he has, mercifully, never been one to let his own opinions intrude in the key job of a radio commentator – vividly describing a match for those who can’t get to see it.
While British soccer commentators are seemingly in thrall to imparting their own op-ed opinions on what is going on – step forward Alan Green, no cares what you think, you boor – Ó Muircheartaigh, 80, has established himself as a real time storyteller and, if I may be excused a cliché, a painter with words. Read more…

September/ October books: cycling, football and hard boiled masterpieces

October 28, 2015


Didn’t get through so many books in September and October given the return to teaching, writing two journal articles (and a bastard research grant application) which took an enormous amount of reading, and taking on a James Ellroy monster doorstop of a tome.

David Winner, Brilliant Orange: the neurotic genius of Dutch Football. 2000. Bloomsbury.

One of those 1990s/ 2000s serious evaluations of football as having something in common with the (high) arts. A pleasing journalistic affair full of brilliant interviews with the key people in the Dutch footballing renaissance of the late 1960s.

It’s rich in detail about the roles of Rinus Michels, Vic Buckingham, Johann Cruyff and Luis Van Gaal in the rebirth and sustenance of the modern era of Dutch football. With hindsight, the stuff on Cruyff also tells us much about his role the recent renaissance of Barcelona.

However, all the ascribing of inherently Dutch national characteristics in modern art and architecture as influencing its football culture all seems a bit Private Eye Pseuds Corner. At one point he notes that, because the Dutch need to hold back the water that threatens the low lying nation with dikes, they are spatial neurotics, and thus this obsession with space makes them revolutionary thinkers about football positions and led to Total Football (pp47-50).

That is pseudo-intellectual pish, but this book is well worth a read for its interviews with some remarkably prescient and important figures in the development of modern football. Read more…



Arts, Health and Wellbeing in the Community

Culture, Space, Technology: A Platial Journal

A 'Platial' perspective on daily life

Record Shop Shots

Looking for a vibe on a cheap fix

Boston College Subpoena News

The Belfast Project, Boston College and a Sealed Subpoena

Bella Caledonia

it's time to get above ourselves

Enda Guinan | Social

Sensible Social Media

two step

two of us in step, most of the time

Voice of the Belly

It's just a blog, not a tablet of stone

Little Sheffield Guitar Studio

Professional Guitar Tuition in the heart of Meersbrook, Sheffield

Tales from inside the age of digital news

An ever-changing journey through digital news media

W[r]ite Noise

Belfast-based arts and culture musings

Shakespeare Couldn't Email

And by and by clean starved for a look...

Irish Election Literature

... what you maybe meant to keep...

The Broken Elbow

A View of the World from New York and Belfast (Public PGP Key: 210D6F47)