I’ve long regarded people who play and write music as my extended family. When I bump into them in a recording studio or at a gig anywhere on the island or at a festival abroad, it’s like meeting cousins that you’re glad to see. I like being in a position where I can help and thus I worked for the Arts Council 1988-92, I set up MusicBase 1992-97 which offered information and advice, I sat on the Boards of FORTE, the IRMA Trust, the IBEC music group and the Federation of Musicians. Currently I’m on the Boards of the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society of Ireland and IMRO. I am honoured to chair the IMRO Board. IMRO does great work on behalf of its 7,300 Irish members and its affiliates abroad and is an essential support for the creativity of songwriters, composers, lyricists and the music publishers who manage their work. You can find out more at www.imro.ie
I’m lucky enough to have had a varied career. For half my adult years I was struggling with alcoholism. Recovery wasn’t easy at first but the sobriety that started twenty years ago has given me a life I could only have dreamed of. So, in the hope that my story might encourage somebody else who is similarly afflicted to get help, I’m writing it all down. Here’s the story of my first gig:
I’d been a member of BAI for some years before I realised that Aung San Suu Kyi and I are the same age. Doesn’t she wear it with grace and beauty! Last year I was struck by the realisation that I could celebrate turning 65 any way I wanted whereas she would be under house arrest. So I booked the National Concert Hall for the night of her birthday, Saturday 19th June, and asked some fellow 65-ers to get involved. Christy Moore was asked first and he said yes without hesitation. Many others came on board, not all of them 65 – Fiachra Trench, the Niall Toner Band, Brendan Graham, Eamon Dunphy, Deirdre Purcell, Declan Sinnott, Carmel McCreagh, Neil Martin, Noel Eccles, Marian Finucane, the Dublin Gospel Choir, Damian Gorman, Tommy Halferty – and we had a wonderful party for ASSK and got word to her that a lot of Irish people care about injustice. Thanks to fellow organisers Eileen Seymour, Gearoid Kilgallen, Brian Trench, Sinead Troy, Alex Donald and the BAI executive committee.
A month after the concert I was asked if I would become Chairperson of BAI and was honoured to accept. BAI is part of a worldwide network of organisations that try to raise awareness about Burma and lobby on behalf of its people. If you’re interested in supporting the efforts of this group of committed volunteers, please consider joining BAI. You can find out more at its website: www.burmaactionireland.org