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Lisdoonvarna gig for Clare’s O’Connell Brothers

ACCLAIMED Miltown Malbay duo O’Connell Brothers have announced their first-ever headline show later this month, and it looks set to be one of the gigs of the year. 

Brothers Kieran and Jon O’Connell have plied their trade with local folk group The Fiddle Case for the past number of years and are well known for their performances in other bands, including The Walls and Serious Mischief. 

When the first pandemic hit and with gigs cancelled, the brothers turned inward and seized the opportunity to forge a new creative path. They built a home studio and immersed themselves in a bubble of songwriting and recording, the fruits of which have proven hugely popular with music lovers. 

Earlier this year, ‘Songbird’, their debut single, flew into the world and onto radio playlists and the reaction was hugely positive.

“Some songs get tossed around for months, years; a lyrical idea or a bit of a melody, but some seem to just land in your lap, Songbird was the latter” remarked Jon. 

The idea for ‘Down On The Quays’ came to Jon several years ago, remembering a morning in an early house after a long night spent in various bars and side-streets. The lyrics were noted and quickly forgotten. Fast-forward to 2020 and the extra time afforded by another lockdown, the lyrics were discovered and the brothers set to work on putting the song together. For Jon and Kieran, songwriting is unpredictable and often nebulous; they don’t have a formula.

It can be a musical hook, a couple of sweet sounding chords or a ream of lyrics that starts the process. However, they have hit a stride on the recording front. Their shed studio is where most of the heavy lifting takes place (the stove being the most critical piece of equipment), but an integral part of their sound is created by Dave Curtis, a maverick Galway-based musician, and Brian Masterson who mixes and masters their work at his studio in Dublin.

The evocative video for ‘Down On The Quays’ was released shortly after the song. “We wanted to convey a certain feeling with the video, and came up with the idea of a person living this bare and simple existence; waking up in the morning and moving through the world, until his darker urges eventually catch up to him,” Jon explained. “He can’t outrun it today, but he can try again tomorrow”. 

The video was filmed guerrilla style around the streets and under the bridge of Ennistymon, and features local man John Fitzpatrick, playing the character of ‘The Arch-Enemy’.

The upcoming headline concert, hosted by Anam Music, takes place on Sunday, November 14, in the recently renovated venue at The Royal Spa in Lisdoonvarna. Ahead of the gig, Jon said the excitement is building.

“It’s been a productive couple of years for us, and we have an album in the pipeline, but it’s been challenging in other ways, so it’s great to be back out and about and bringing people together again through music,” he said.

“We’ve loved our live stream gigs but this gig is the real deal, and we’re delighted it’s in such an iconic venue. It’s a venue steeped in history, and is a special space. We’re looking forward to seeing friends old and new.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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