Well these are exciting times in the Hit Factory my friends, exciting times! I have been three long years working hard on my big Gaelic Opera FÍORUISCE - THE LEGEND OF THE LOUGH and have finally finished the first draft. Fierce graft, lads, fierce graft. We'll be doing a week's development work in the Triskel Arts Centre next week with three brilliant Opera singers, Corcadorca Site Specific Theatre Company, and Musical Director John O' Brien.

The Opera is based on a traditional Folk Tale that was published in 1820 in a book called Fairy Legends of the South of Ireland by Thomas Crofton Croker. The story describes the well that overflowed in ancient times to form The Lough. The Lough is a beautiful lake, one mile around, on the southside of Cork City, and is beloved of Cork people. Thanks to Corcadorca and Cork City Council Arts Office for their support. In my dream, this Gaelic Opera will be staged on the banks of the Lough on Bonfire Night, St. John's Eve, the 23rd of June, in the Future. All the people of Cork will come out in the twilight to see the Legend of the Lough.

Well because of the fierce amount of work I've been doing on the Opera my songwriting has slowed down over the past three years, but I still have a few new songs to report. One is a song about Mohill town in County Leitrim, a town that has been good to me in the last few years, and the song has developed into a song of praise for Turlough O' Carolan the blind harper and composer (1670-1738). My hero. Carolan was born in Meath but married and settled down in Mohill. It's a most lovely part of Ireland all there around Lough Rynne. This song is ready to go now and I think it's one of the best songs I've ever written. It was a visit to the Seventh Son Aidan Wrynne to cure the shingles that brought myself and my ancient Toyota Corolla to Mohill.

In other news I'm delighted to report that a great band called The Jeremiahs have released a new version of my song PASSAGE WEST on their recent album The Femme Fatale of Maine. Thanks The Jeremiahs and Well Wear! I get such a great kick out of hearing people singing my songs.

I've been doing a few gigs in National Schools singing my Irish Songs We Learned At School repertoire and it's always a joy to have the whole school in the hall, and they singing their heads off to these fabulous Irish Language Songs. I went back to my own National School St. Joseph's on the Mardyke in Cork the other day for a great celebration of singing, a return in Glory like! Thanks lads! Up Josies!

I'm off to Australia next month for a few weeks. Hurray! I'll be taking part in a big show called EXILE - Songs and Tales of Irish Australia, with a big cast of singers and musicians including Andy Irvine and Pauline Scanlon. It's a very deep and moving show, written by Shane Howard, an elder statesman of the Irish community in Australia, a wise man steeped in the Irish tradition as well as the traditions of native, indigenous Australia. As well as playing for the first time at the famous Port Fairy Folk Festival, myself and Pauline will do a number of gigs in Melbourne and Sydney. Hurray!

In other news what a laugh that my song Johnny Don't Go To Ballincollig has been adapted as a radio ad to promote the new cheaper bus fares to the satellite towns all round Cork! Go to Ballincollig Johnny, go to Glanmire, Carrigaline, even Blarney! It seems that some of these songs take on a life of their own, and even seem to become a part of the consciousness of the country. Hurray! Hurray! Johnny Don't Go has had a great little history as a song, what with the Christy Moore versions and the other, sometimes spontaneous versions that have been done by bands and some other crazy individuals. Hurray!

Well that's the craic now for the journal lads. Have a lovely Springtime everyone! All is not lost. The days are getting very slightly longer, by a cock's footstep every day and the Hyacinth is coming back up out the black ground, my favourite flower. Stay in by the wall and mind the buses, thanks very much everyone, John.

Published on 17th February 2018

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