We met back in 1982 during the last ‘real recession’. You were an idealistic trad fiddle player entering the world of violin making. I was a dedicated follower of American Abstract painting and was doing my utmost to join the junior ranks of those great painters. My musical interests lay in the cutting strat-solos of Rory Gallagher and the Blues maestro Johnny Winter. I thoroughly enjoyed calling in on you guys beavering away on your benches and revelled in adding a little humorous spice to the seriously budding Stradivari students. Your fireball energy was magnetic.
Tuesday night was session night for the Cork trad heavyweights. This world was alien to me but had to be checked out, as the word around town was that you had a lethal bow-hand that could lift the roof off of any session!! Well lots of hairy men, tweed caps, smoking pipes, cigarettes and dark black porter. Not my idea of a night on the town especially as the music sounded to me like the same tune over and over again. The session seemed lively enough to my untrained ear until you, with your gleamingly polished boots nestled in among the rebel elite. Well the rest is history Gerry. You lifted more than the roof on those occassions. There are musicians in Cork to this day who still with respect, recall your powerfull in-put, back in the Malt Shovel days.
In that very same establishment I got to hear Eithne’s magical voice for the very first time and it was unforgettable. Female trad singing for me was like wailing at a stone age wake. This was a truly different experience. It was slow but like silk. It was delicate but powerful. It was dark but full of light. 1986 I emmigrated and always delighted in a call from the road as you journeyed down the German highways over the following years. We monitored each others ‘career lows’ and always gave each other the solutions to success! When Brigids Kiss was released I thought this is it… the breakthrough… a traditional/contemporary masterpiece of Irish music with the most definitive voice in Irish music. That album has now been removed from my number one spot. Bilingua is a masterpiece
I find it so hard to fathom where you guys got the strength to bring this hugely personal artwork to fruition. I had no idea that in the late 90’s (as yet another unexpected call from Dundalk came through that you were en route to some gig and we could meet in Berlin) that Eithne was crafting words like… “grief can be translated from the light into the darkness… It’s true colours are exotic, hypnotic ,ecstatic, erotic… It’s true colours will unfold…”
This happened to be the underlying theme of my own work in the silence and isolation of my Berlin studio in the late 90’s. Heartfelt thanks Gerry, Dónal, Siubhan, Feilimí & Finnian for giving us this incredibly beautiful gift. It is deeply touching and Eithne’s words carry so much truth… TRUE COLOURS WILL UNFOLD.
Love and respect.