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The Problem with Pain...


Since I'm giving a presentation in this year’s CS Lewis Festival my Instagram search tab is full
of CS Lewis quotes under the heading ,things you might like'. I really have a
problem with this quote from the Problem of Pain and since I can’t argue with
Lewis I'm going to post it to random strangers (although Lewis later gainsaid much
of what he wrote in that book, in this instance in the very beautiful ‘What the Bird
Said Early in the Year’ in my view by talking about how redemption breaks the cycles that trap us)

LA with RA... Creakin' All Over the World



 Airline Rep: I’m sorry, madam, but a keyboard is not a musical instrument’.

Me: I’m talking about the kind that you hit the keys and they play notes, not one you plug into a computer.

Airline Rep: I understand that, madam. It’s still not a musical instrument.


Airline Rep: It requires a power source, ergo it is a possible risk.



Lochlann Green Spills the (Chilli) Beans..



My own radio show is basically a world musical convention which includes bands and artists from different music scenes in differenet countries along with their managers, promoters, promotion agencies, record labels and puts them all together into one show. 

Nineteen Eighty Four




I never heard the screech of breaks because the driver didn’t break. He simply hit my father and kept driving, the police in pursuit. It was April 1984 and I would turn 8 in May. 

Celtic Connections 2014: You'll Love Haggis, Honestly





So once more I found myself in an airport waiting to fly to Glasgow, a city I had last seen in May. The flight from Belfast took a grand total of 25 minutes. As Steven McKnight, my esteemed guitarist, pointed out it takes longer to get from the centre of Belfast to Finaghy. We were on our way to play at the Danny Kyle Memorial Stage at Celtic Connections.






In the town where I live there is a bottle bank. In the year 590 AD St Columbanus, a saint of the Celtic Church, stood at the spot where it stands and bid farewell to his ninety year old mentor, St Columba, before embarking on a life time trip to Europe.     

To Soothe the Savage Breast...



To Soothe the Savage Breast…


Musick hath charms to sooth a savage Breast,

To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.

William Congreve, The Mourning Bride 1697

One summer when I was 22 I was sitting in a circle of singers in St Andrew’s in Scotland being taught advanced voice skills. The two course leaders were talking about having done a course in Counselling for Singing Teachers. ‘How pretentious,’ I thought in my immaturity. 

Caledonian Summer


Caledonian Summer (nearly)



Ah, the life of a wandering minstrel. Some years ago I was in Tuscany when I met a New Yorker in a vineyard. He told me he’d never want to go to Ireland, it was so cold. I told him that people may like to flock to sunny places, but personally I love the wind on my face. He didn’t understand this concept at all, needless to say. I have since then been in Beijing, Cyprus… all manner  of hot places but my Northern blood loves Northern places, and one of the most beautiful in the world is Edinburgh.

Mountains, Music and Moya



 Back to the Old Country



More than a hundred years ago, my great-grandmother left Donegal (Rosapenna, Carraig Airt direction to be precise) in search of adventure in the Big Smoke of Belfast. She ended up with eight children in the end…. This weekend I went back to the North of Donegal after a ten year absence from that land of my ancestors with Andy and Joanne Boal. Our aim? Play some music!


Ailsa Craig: The Birth of a Song



I was walking one evening along the North Down coast

And as I walked I was thinking

Of the one I loved the most.

As the sun set on Bangor, far across the waves,

Dark against the horizon

I glimpsed Ailsa Craig.


On the night of my returning

To the land where I was born

The gulls cried till morning

Trying to chase me from the shore.

I had no thought of leaving till the end of my days

Then across the horizon

I saw Ailsa Craig.


Where is my love tonight,

Where has he gone?

He moved beyond my sight

To the sacred stone.


What once was a refuge is now deserted rock.

It stands as a milestone

Between the Irish and the Scots.

And if for a moment I felt at home to stay

I knew no home and no horizon

When I saw Ailsa Craig.



A friend asked me last night how I write a song… do I write the music or the words first? I don’t think I write the same way twice in a row anymore, but I’d like to share how two of my songs came about. Last year on my Master of Music course we looked at our influences and assessed where our writing came from but this isn’t meant to be an academic essay on composition or to say anything generic about songwriting itself, it’s just about the place I found myself in when I wrote Ailsa Craig.

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