‘Sheear’ is here! Feature on album launch gigs
On February 15th, my debut album ‘Sheear’ (meaning ‘Westward’ in Manx Gaelic) was released. Album launch gigs took place in the Isle of Man and in Ireland, the latter gigs being joint gigs with the Scottish Gaelic supergroup Dàimh.
For the Manx launch, which took place on the release date at the Peel Centenary Centre, I gathered the full line-up from the album, with Vanessa McWilliam on double bass; David Pearce on guitar; Irish flautist and sean nos singer Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin and David Kilgallon standing in for Tom Callister on fiddle. The evening started with the talented trio that is Tree Cassyn, featuring Isla Callister-Wafer on fiddle, concertina and vocals, Doona Lambden on whistle and vocals and Paul Rogers on guitar. Next it was the turn of multi-instrumentalist Eoghan, who paired up with David on fiddle and keys to showcase traditional and self-penned tunes and songs, all prepared in the few hours Eoghan had spent in David’s company since arriving on the Island: the two of them are truly talented lads!
We all then took to the stage to perform all the songs from my album, which was funded by Culture Vannin and features photography by Phil Kneen, translations of lyrics from Manx to English, and original songs by Annie Kissack, Bob Carswell, Breesha Maddrell and Stef Conner as well as traditional songs such as ‘Fin as Oshin’, ‘Tree eeasteyryn boghtey’ and ‘Arrane y Skeddan’. I was blessed to have a such a warm audience and the atmosphere was fantastic!
A couple of days following the Manx launch, I travelled over to Ireland to do some album launch gigs there in a mini tour. Just as I geared up for my first gig in Whelan’s, Dublin, disaster struck… in the form of nasty tonsillitis. The last time I had tonsillitis was 7 years ago… sod’s law! Luckily, antibiotics worked a treat, meaning that I was back on my feet only two days later and able to gig in Belfast and Donegal. I have never wanted to hug a Doctor more!
With her upcoming nuptials fast approaching, my bassist Ness wasn’t free to come over to Ireland so James Lindsay from the Scottish band Breabach did a sterling job of playing the ‘big fiddle’ alongside myself and David Pearce. My trio joint gigged with the Gaelic supergroup Dàimh at the Cultúrlann on Falls road in West Belfast on Friday 21st February, before driving out to Donegal the following day to do another joint gig at the renowned Cabaret Craiceáilte in Gweedore.
Just before settling in for the night at Hiúdaí Bhig’s, where the gig was taking place, we made our way up to Raidió na Gaeltachta where my trio and Dàimh did a live studio performance for Rónán Beo. Between songs, Rónán interviewed me, with him talking in Irish and myself in Manx. My brain was definitely a bit like an overheated laptop battery after that interview, from listening so intently to make sure I understood him (Manx shares great similarities to Irish and Scottish Gaelics but isn’t exactly the same!). That night, we performed in a crowded, buzzing pub – Tigh Hiúdaí Bhig – speaking and performing just in Gaelic. I’m raring to go back soon! Nerin aboo!!