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Andy Irvine : The "Abocourragh" Interview - Sept 2010

Interview previously published on the Manchester Wired, by Julian Fowler . All rights reserved by the author.

A barn on a County Fermanagh farm used for lambing and to store hay isn't the first place you would expect a musician to launch their new album.But the venue made perfect sense to Irish singer and songwriter, Andy Irvine.

His career has spanned five decades, and as a member of the folk band Planxty he achieved widespread success in the 1970s alongside Christy Moore, Dónal Lunny and Liam O'Flynn.

Since then he has travelled the world, a troubadour of traditional music, playing the mandola, bouzouki and harmonica.

His new solo album, Abocurragh, reflects his globetrotting experiences.

"It was made mainly in Dublin but a lot of people were recorded in Hungary, in Norway, Australia. The album had been around the world before it came out," he said.

The album is named after a townland about eight miles from Enniskillen, although his home is actually in the adjoining townland, Ballysooragh.

"I didn't think Ballysooragh was a great name for an album," Andy explained, "so Abocurragh looked much more attractive and there's about three houses up there too."

To launch his new album, he has returned to his home on County Fermanagh.

He has shunned the glitzy hotels and city-based celebrities and chosen instead to perform in a hay shed.

The idea for the "Silo Pit Session" came from Andy's landlady Janie Crone who owns the farm with her husband John.

The family has been busy transforming the farmyard into Northern Ireland's newest music venue.

She said: "We would normally round bale but we've actually square baled so seating is bales of hay.

"You can see we've just used bales of hay along the back of the silo pit and covered it in black stuff to try and make it look at least more like a stage."

What will the acoustics be like in the barn which is more used to the sound of bleating lambs?

"It's a tin roof so it has been very tinny but we've had some good advice," said Mrs Crone.

"As soon as the hay came in, it acts like furnishings in a house so that kind of echo sound has gone so we're hoping for the best. We just don't need rain on the tin roof!"

The venue is perfect for Andy Irvine as it is a short walk from his house.

"Sitting on bales of hay it will be very rural and it's just next door to me, so if I get tired I can go and have a lie down between songs," he added.

Several hundred people arrived for the gig and made themselves comfortable on the bales of hay.

It was an intimate performance of songs from the new album and from Andy Irvine's 45 year musical career.

It may have been a bit cold, but the acoustics were excellent and, to Mrs Crone's relief, there was no rain falling upon the tin roof.

Andy's New Solo album out now!! September 2010

Album of the century!"
Well...my first solo album since 1999. Recorded in Dublin, Norway, Australia,
Hungary and Brittany between February 2009 and April 2010.
Thanks to all my friends who helped me record it.
Especially Dónal Lunny who worked so hard in the prduction of it,
let alone playing on every track bar one.
I hope it won't be my last album of the century!!

Produced by Dónal Lunny
Musicians are :
Dónal Lunny, Liam O'Flynn, Máirtín O'Connor, Annbjørg Lien, Lillebjørn Nilsen,
Nikola Parov, Jacky Molard, Bruce Molsky, Rens van der Zalm, Rick Epping,
Graham Henderson, Paul Moore, Liam Bradley, Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton

Track list: (click titles for 30-sec samples)
1. Three Huntsmen MP3
2. Willy of Winsbury MP3
3. Emptyhanded MP3
4. The Close Shave / East at Glendart
5. James Magee
6. The Girl from Cushendun / The Love of my Life
7. The Spirit of Mother Jones MP3
8. Victory at Lawrence
9. The Demon Lover
1. Banks of Newfoundland
2. Oslo / Norwegian Mazurka


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