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The same but different – A tribute to three great Irish musicians

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Driving home from work last Friday, tributes for Shane McGowan were pouring out across the radio stations and while listening in, I got a strong sense of déjà vu.

It was only a few months earlier that we got the sad news that the talented Aslan front man Christy Dingham had passed away, and a short few weeks after that - Sinéad O’Connor.  The loss of three iconic Irish musicians that left music fans across the country reeling.

When I think about each artist individually, their personalities couldn’t be more different. Yet, for days after the passing of the Pogues frontman, I found myself wondering why I was so drawn to all three.

And then, over the weekend I stumbled across a completely unrelated article which led with a headline:

“In a year dominated by artificial intelligence, deepfakes, and disingenuity, “authentic” has somehow emerged as Merriam-Webster’s word for 2023.”

And there was my answer. The one characteristic that embodied all three of these great Irish musicians.

It was my mother that first introduced me to Aslan’s music. She grew up during their peak and loved all sorts of rock music. I regularly watch their Vicar Street performances back on YouTube and still get mesmerised by Christy’s intense stage presence. Using elaborate hand gestures to evoke a greater meaning behind the words, he always looked like he was away in his own world. Off stage, and particularly later in his career, I admired him for his honesty when talking about his struggles with addiction and mental health. He was talking openly about these issues long before it was the norm.

Sinéad O'Connor was another original soul who, because of her talent, was catapulted into a music industry consumed by artificiality; she was almost too pure for it all. I always admired her unwavering commitment to her beliefs. Her authenticity was evident in every aspect of her artistry. The way she unapologetically embraced her shaved head and boy-ish style, she challenged conventional opinions around beauty. Her music reflected her personal struggles and she never shied away from addressing issues of social injustice, religion, and gender equality. Her stances often drew criticism and controversy, but she always remained true to herself.

Shane MacGowan will always be remembered for his unfiltered nature, and while the lyrics of many songs were dark and gritty, there was also an element of empathy and compassion in what he wrote. Like Christy, he too struggled with addiction and mental health issues throughout his career. While his demons sometimes spilled over into the public eye, his honesty and vulnerability just endeared him even more to us Irish.

So isn’t it apt in a year we lost three great musicians, the word of 2023 happens to be the one undeniable trait that they all shared. Thank you Christy, Sinead and Shane for showing us that authenticity is not just about being different to everyone else; but also about possessing the courage to challenge the established, to question the norms, and to keep going, even when the going gets tough.

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Black Valley broadband installation gets underway

Works are under way to install a high-speed fibre broadband network in the remote Black Valley area of Kerry. The Black Valley was one of the last areas of Ireland […]

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Works are under way to install a high-speed fibre broadband network in the remote Black Valley area of Kerry.

The Black Valley was one of the last areas of Ireland to be electrified but broadband in the region is expected to be live in the second half of the year with residents already able to pre-order their connection. 
“It is well known that Black Valley was one of the last locations to get electricity due to its remoteness and challenging terrain, so we are extremely pleased to be commencing the rollout of our high-speed fibre network now with a view to connections being available later this year,” said National Broadband Ireland Deployment CEO, TJ Malone.
  
“We are determined to ensure the rollout is as fast as possible and connection is made easy for Black Valley residents, and we have a plan in place to work around the location’s all-important tourist season.

“Black Valley is a symbol of NBI’s mission that no area will be left behind no matter how rural or remote and we are delighted that this beautiful location moves one step closer to high-speed fibre today, with all the opportunities that will unlock for the local community.” 

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Players of the year don’t duck a challenge

They never duck when faced with a big challenge on the field so it was safe to assume that GAA players of the year David Clifford and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh […]

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They never duck when faced with a big challenge on the field so it was safe to assume that GAA players of the year David Clifford and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh weren’t going to shy away from the latest task on their home patch.

The two top footballers in the country teamed up to launch a charity duck race which will form part of this year’s St Patrick’s Festival in Killarney, where they both live.

When the working day was done, busy secondary school teachers David and Louise had some great quack and they got caught up in the spirit of the occasion along the scenic River Deenagh in Killarney National Park.

The reigning Player of the Year and Ladies Player of the Year award winner demonstrated their competitive streak when they expressed confidence that their own ducks will win The Deenagh Duck Dash on the same river at noon on Monday, March 18.

But, luckily, festival chairman Jason Clifford was there to keep the peace and he even threatened to cry fowl and brandish a card at the star players – with duck yellow deemed the most appropriate colour.

Considered by many to be the greatest players of all time in their respective codes, between them, Fossa hotshot David and Corca Dhuibhne star Louise have an incredible nine All-Star awards.

But they might be tempted to swap one if their duck wins the fun-filled race on the day after St Patrick’s Day.

All proceeds from the event will go to St Francis Special School in Beaufort, Killarney which provides specialist education for young people with learning disabilities.
Festival chairman Jason remarked: “This isn’t just a race – it’s great fun for the whole family.
“Picture the scene with a flotilla of vibrant rubber ducks racing down a winding river, their owners cheering them on and all in the name of a fantastic cause”.
Super prizes await the winners, the cost of a rubber duck to participate in the race is just €5 and they can be bought online at https://stpatricksfestivalkillarney.ie/.

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