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Posts Tagged ‘Ireland

O’Brien, Blasket Islands and a clear day of summer

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Villagers release a third studio album, ‘Darling Arithmetic’ (IRE: April 10th, UK/EU: April 13th, US: April 14th, 2015 via Domino Records) in a couple of months and have given us a taste of what’s to come with the stunning single, ‘Courage’. Few things bring me such peace as listening to Conor J O’Brien…perhaps if I was driving towards Slea Head on a clear day of summer, gazing out across the sea to the Blasket Islands with the track on repeat, this would be the only imaginable improvement to the experience. I fully anticipate this album being a contender for the 2015 Mercury Prize if this track is anything to go by.

Track List
1. ‘Courage’
2. ‘Everything I Am Is Yours’
3. ‘Dawning On Me’
4. ‘Hot Scary Summer’
5. ‘The Soul Serene’
6. ‘Darling Arithmetic’
7. ‘Little Bigot’
8. ‘No-one To Blame’
9. ‘So Naïve’

The band will tour the UK, Ireland and Europe in April/May, 2015 and tickets go on presale this coming Wednesday at 9am (February 11th, 2015) via the official website below.

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂


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February 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm

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REVIEW: Kilvine at St Patrick’s Day Ceilidh, St George’s Hall Liverpool 16th March 2013

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REVIEW: KILVINE at St Patrick’s Day Ceilidh, St George’s Hall, Liverpool

16th March 2013

If popular and widely accessible genealogical references are to be believed, the Hanvey name originates from one of the chief clans of Ulidia, or County Down as it is now known. O’Hanvey was chief of Hy-Eachach Coba, a territory to the west of the county, from the 12th to the 17th century, with countless descendants having remained residents of this particular corner of the northern Irish coast over the subsequent years. As a fellow O’Hanvey descendant and after developing a particular fondness for the romantic morality tale that is Cruise and Kidman’s finest; Far and Away, I took it upon myself several years ago to uncover (some may argue, invent) a Hanvey family history befitting a chief of his time. This history included vast acres of land which were divvied out amongst the farming locals, such was our protagonist’s level of morality and sense of justice. Weekly ceili dances would be held in the chief’s honour, where local bands would play traditional music on traditional Irish instruments; bands just like Kilvine, the Irish traditional ensemble who took centre stage at a St Patrick’s Day Ceilidh at St George’s Hall, Liverpool this week.

Amongst the grand and opulent surroundings of the Great Hall, my mind was at once transported to similar social gatherings that O’Hanvey might have hosted, though surely none being held in quite as auspicious splendour as this. A ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) or ceili to use the Irish spelling of the word, is a traditional Gaelic folk gathering, which involves playing Gaelic folk music and performing traditional dances. A caller calls out the movements to each dance and ensures that everyone is able to participate. Kilvine are a six-piece band, hailing from Liverpool, who play a variety of traditional Irish instruments including the flute, accordion, banjo and box. The lead female singer also acted as caller and all-round dance teacher for the evening, whilst her bandmates performed a rousing set of a mixture of traditional Irish folk songs and instrumental numbers. Songs included a particular Hanvey favourite, ‘The Fields of Athenry’, as well as the old classics such as ‘Wild Rover’. The youngest member of the ensemble, a girl named Bridget, had perfect vocals for the genre; haunting, delicate and full of innocence. The traditional dances we performed included the Walls of Limerick, the Siege of Ennis and the Snowball, as well as a number of traditional waltzes.

We met a couple at our table who had travelled from Wrexham, North Wales, but actually had family connections to our home town of Widnes. The Irish have a renowned quality of welcoming strangers and of making them feel like family and friends; a nice touch then that we should make such a connection under St Patrick’s spiritual guidance. An impressive and stirring performance from the Bolger Cunningham Irish Dancing School followed; a troupe of dancers who train at the St Michael’s Irish Centre in Liverpool. The girls were polished and on point, a real tribute to their vocation.

At the evening’s end, I could so easily have spent a night in a pub in Killarney, my own particular favourite corner of the world (County Kerry, to be precise). As long as there is music and family, you could call anywhere home and tonight St George and St Patrick came together to make us feel just that.

Photos by Lynsey Hanvey
To view more, please visit
shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

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March 22, 2013 at 2:05 pm

My favourite Irish females: B*Witched, The Corrs, Lisa Hannigan and The Cranberries

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I’ve took a liking of late to all things retro and reminiscent of the ’90s. I don’t know what has caused this sudden penchant for times gone by or how long my fixation will remain, so I guess I’d better enjoy it while it lasts. One possible cause could be ITV2‘s new show, The Big Reunion.

The weekly reality drama focuses on six previously chart-topping groups from the UK: Atomic Kitten, B*Witched, 5IVE, Liberty X, 911 and The Honeyz. The show has brought the groups together and charts their rise to fame and everything that came afterwards. – cue many tears, revelations and recriminations. The show has one main draw for me; my reawakened love for my favourite Irish girl group, B*Witched. The realisation that I was still carrying feelings for the fabulous foursome got me to thinking of my favourite Irish female performers in general.


‘To You I Belong’ has got to be my favourite track from B*Witched ‘s back catalogue. It was the third single and number one from their debut self-titled album (1998). I can’t decide what I love most about the video; Edele’s finger cymbals, the wintry forest setting or the faux fur coat sleeves. I could not get enough of the double denim that was being rocked in this band, so much so that I styled myself on the Lynch sisters. My family originate from County Down in Northern Ireland and I’ve always wanted to be 100% Irish. I want the accent, I want the green eyes, I want the shiny glossy hair and I want the farm, or at least easy access to one where I can stroke lambs and feed piglets. Strictly for fun, not food. But I digress; The Big Reunion has pleasingly reminded me of the great tracks that B*Witched actually released (‘Blame It On The Weatherman’, ‘Rollercoaster’, not forgetting ‘C’est La Vie’). They had it all and I am enjoying seeing them again every week. I simply must find out the Lynch sisters’ beauty secrets…and ask them if I can be their new BFF whilst I’m at it.


The Corrs were another of my favourite bands of the ’90s. The sibling four-piece were so beautiful it was ridiculous and they pretty much ruled the airwaves from 1997 to 2003. ‘What Can I Do’ is my favourite Corrs track, but to be fair there are many close contenders. I remember buying my first leather-look studded brown wide belt and pairing it with a gypsy style black dress, just trying to emulate the look of Andrea. I thought if I managed that, I too might attract the interest of most of the male popstars of the era. Sadly, Robbie Williams never made it to Widnes, so my plan was scuppered.


Lisa Hannigan is my favourite Irish folk singer-songwriter and I have watched her perform live several times, she never disappoints. ‘Ocean And A Rock’ is my favourite Hannigan track, taken from her critically acclaimed debut album, ‘Sea Sew’ (2008). Hannigan previously sang as part of Damien Rice‘s ensemble, but her brilliance could not be contained and she broke free in 2007. She has since gone on to release two albums, crack America and be nominated for a Mercury Prize. And she wears lovely vintage dresses and has the sleek, glossy hair I previously mentioned.


The Cranberries, headed up by Dolores O’Riordan would be in my top three Irish bands, alongside The Corrs and U2. ‘Linger’ is my favourite Cranberries track. Pan back to 1993 and me sat in my bedroom, aged 13, listening to ‘Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?’, probably thinking about my first love who I’d recently met on a Confirmation weekend trip to Upholland in Lancashire. I’m not sure that the focus of said Confirmation weekend was meant to be the amazingly handsome boy who had recently moved to the UK from France, but nevertheless there I was in my camel faux suede coat, sat on a bunk bed, prayer book in hand, professing my love at first sight for Peter Cantwell. Peter, if you’re still out there (doubtful; I’m sure that everyone was accounted for on the minibus home), thank you. Thanks for the memories and for introducing me to the wonderful, and at times horrendous concept of love.

@BWitchedreunion @LisaHBand @The_Cranberries / /

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

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February 21, 2013 at 12:22 pm

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Merry Christmas from shelleyhanveywriter…

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As 2011 draws to a close, I would like to thank everyone who has spared the time to read any of my pieces on here. I write for my own enjoyment, but there’s still no better feeling than hearing someone say that they like your work. I appreciate every click, every ‘Like’ and every ‘Subscribe to this blog’!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2012.

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂



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December 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm

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Review of Lisa Hannigan @LisaHBand at St Philip’s Church, Salford, Nov 25th, 2011

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REVIEW: Lisa Hannigan at St Philip’s Church, Salford (November 25th, 2011)


Advent is a season observed in the largely Western Christian religion, as a time of eager expectation and pious preparation. Perhaps fitting therefore, that Lisa Hannigan chose the first week of this hallowed juncture, to make her righteous return to the city of Salford… Accompanied by her constant disciples: Molloy, Glass and Fitzsimons, the musical message was one of peace and passion; with talent such as this, preaching would be futile.  


To read my full review for, please click link below:


shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

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November 29, 2011 at 10:57 am

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The stuff of dreams; Lisa Hannigan and Richard Hawley live

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Lisa Hannigan; performing in a church, in Dingle, County Kerry. To me, this is merely the stuff of dreams; to our western Irish friends this is quite the reality, as acclaimed live music show ‘Other Voices’ continues to achieve great things on RTE Television…if only the channel could be included somewhere on the seemingly endless array of Sky TV packages. I’d gladly trade it for Sky Atlantic.

Both Hannigan and Dingle have a special place in my shamrock-shaped heart, so to stumble across this Christmastime recording this morning was a pure delight. I am also a great admirer of the captivating Richard Hawley and you will see why when you watch the two clips below. Never was there a more apt track for him to perform than ‘Hushabye Mountain‘; you will no doubt recall the song best from the children’s classic feature film ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, were it was performed rather poignantly by the equally wonderful Dick Van Dyke. I’ve always loved the song and used to sing it to my sister when she was little, though I had to fluff a few of the lyrics because I was around ten at the time and couldn’t remember them all. It has such fairytale connotations and literally lulls you to sleep; in a good way!

The previous blog piece I wrote was about another of my favourite songs, ‘Moon River‘, which Hannigan and Hawley perform here just magically…if I’m able to pre-book, I’d like to request a live rendition of this very performance at the pearly gates when my time on this mortal plane is completed. Hopefully this is in many, many years to come as I actually have a couple of years on Hannigan and wouldn’t wish any harm to come to one hair on her beautiful Irish head.

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

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March 29, 2011 at 11:18 am

Conor J. O’Brien (Villagers) – talks about and performs tracks from debut album ‘Becoming A Jackal.’

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Conor J.O'Brien, of Villagers

Having listened to Villagers’ Mercury Music Prize-nominated, debut album ‘Becoming A Jackal’ quite a few times this week; I was very keen to learn more about singer and creative driving force, Conor J. O’Brien. Luckily enough, I was forwarded a link by a very kind Alicia, at Baeblemusic, to a recent interview and performing session that O’Brien did in The Creative Little Garden in New York.

During the session, O’Brien offers some insight in to his approach to songwriting and the inspiration for particular tracks on the album; as far-reaching as metaphors for life and death, to analysing the profile and poise of travellers on everyone’s favourite mode of public transport, the common bus. He also performs several tracks from the album, including new single ‘Twenty Seven Strangers’, ‘The Pact (I’ll Be Your Fever), and ‘Set The Tigers Free.’

O’Brien speaks about songwriting as a fluid and primitive process; whereby if the writer thinks about the subject or structure too much, they lose the ability to capture the real essence of what they’re trying to say. I can relate to this having completed my degree in the grandiously-titled programme ‘Imaginative Writing, Literature, Life and Thought’; quite often I would turn up to class not feeling especially imaginative or philosophical – it wasn’t easy therefore having to write a 50-line stanza with the theme of ‘Evolution’ in a poorly ventilated classroom at 9am on a Monday morning, against the clock. Somehow I doubt the Bard had to endure such trials in his rise to creative glory…

Villagers are performing at several festivals in the coming weeks, including Leeds and Reading, Electric Picnic and Bestival. I think after their Mercury Music Prize nomination, the crowds will definitely swell in number for this band and rightly so. I look forward to seeing O’Brien and his cohort perform live in the coming months. Ireland has yet again produced another fine creative and songwriting talent.

To view the full session, click below.

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

July 23, 2010 at 11:48 am

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