Women Blazing Ahead in the Music Industry During a Pandemic

2020 marked a year of many firsts around the globe, many of them marked by tragedy, but with numerous bright spots, as well. Danielle Devlin is owner and agent-manager of a boutique music agency based in the U.S., Canis Major Music LLC. Caoimhe Ní Riagáin is manager of Irish supergroup Kíla. In their own voices, each describes how working in the music business during the pandemic as two women who met just weeks before lockdowns hit, working oceans apart, came to achieve a common goal to the benefit of their shared artist and each other’s professions. Their story is one of innovation and collaboration, the magic that can happen when egos and fear are set aside and one delves wholeheartedly into the unknown with the right attitude. Out of this work, a strong friendship resulted that will undoubtedly strengthen their place in the industry and continue to drive their shared mission to provide outstanding support to their artists. 

DANIELLE: Kíla’s music might as well be a soundtrack for the COVID-19 pandemic-alarming in the way that it rages, anarchic in its energy, and at times forlorning as it leads you into dark recesses with an unsuspecting sadness as a product of its beautiful lyricism and sweet melodies, best experienced in isolation. Working behind this extraordinary, world-renowned band are two strong women-led entities, collaborating and pushing forward through their passion for their work, in support of a well-loved band, and in support of each other.

CAOIMHE: The role of the band manager can feel lonely at times; the manager is there to seek work for the band, but is also there to protect them. It is a role that is designed to give the artist creative freedom, while at the same time act as a marketing voice for them. Although that sense of alone-ness could have increased during the pandemic, it did not, thanks to finding a very like minded woman to collaborate with, located in Vermont. I carry out the role of manager of Kíla with a steely determination to do the best job I can. In Danielle, I have met an equally determined woman, who like me, knows that belief in a project can genuinely move mountains.

DANIELLE: Working as an agent or artist manager is solitary work. You have to be driven, a self-starter, and tenacious. You often have to be able to negotiate the lines between persistence and sensitivity, creativity and sensibility, depending on the situation at hand, knowing when to step back and when to push. Empathy plays a key role in success, and I think that is where Caoimhe and I may have the upper hand in this field. We allow each other the space to create and offer up solutions, we listen carefully to each other and are able to set our egos aside to build something together to spotlight an entirely different entity, the band, while lifting up each other indirectly.

CAOIMHE: After two years of working with Kíla, I felt that I had found my groove. I knew where I wanted to go with the band and was confident that I could get them there. Kíla had not toured in North America for several years, and I really wanted to bring them back. In 2019, I attended Folk Alliance International (FAI) in Montreal, at the invitation of Aengus Finnan, Executive Director of FAI (whom I had met at WOMEX in 2018). The aim of attending was to have Kíla showcase at FAI in 2020, and he suggested I attend as a delegate first. To say the conference was an education would not do it justice! In the middle of some of the worst snowstorms Montreal had ever experienced, an entire hotel had been booked out and filled from top to bottom with musicians from all over the world. The days were filled with seminars and music showcases, and at night the vibe continued on into the wee hours with private showcases in hotel bedrooms across multiple floors. It really was incredible! On Aengus’s advice, Kíla applied and were accepted by Culture Ireland and FAI as an official showcase band for 2020 in New Orleans. I was excited, Kíla were excited, and off we headed to New Orleans that January.  

DANIELLE: Folk Alliance International 2020 in New Orleans was the first conference where I was representing my new agency, Canis Major Music. I was feeling especially energized as I was already working with three artists with official showcases at this event. It was also during this conference that I saw Kíla perform live for the first time. I had only known of the band since the release of Cartoon Saloon’s animated film, The Secret of Kells, so I felt a bit late to the party. BUT, what a party that showcase was! I was pressed up against one of the walls flanking the stage with a couple of promoters I had invited to watch the showcase with me, and the room was just vibrating with energy, not just the energy coming from the artists, but the entire room was buzzing with excitement. The band was on fire, and I was in heaven! On my way out of the packed room to hit my next showcase, I stopped by the “booth” at the back of the room to tell the woman minding the Kíla information table that I was thrilled by the showcase and so grateful for the joy they brought to the conference. It turns out that the person with whom I was gushing about the band was none other than the band’s manager, Caoimhe Ni Riagain.

CAOIMHE : Kíla loved New Orleans. It was hard not to be infected by the energy of the conference (more like a festival really),  and indeed the energy of the city. Kíla give 100% to every performance but the performance they gave at their official showcase was magical,  utterly extraordinary and everybody lucky enough to be in the room knew it, mise in a measc (myself included). We were lucky to have our soon-to-be US agent, Danielle Devlin, in the room that night. I remember meeting her and was struck by her warmth and enthusiasm for the band. She had been enchanted, just as we all had been, by Kíla’s performance. A few days later I was introduced properly to Danielle by a mutual friend and we began chatting about working together.

DANIELLE: Caoimhe and I exchanged a couple of brief texts of introduction and I agreed to come to meet her at one of the “unofficial” showcases in one of the hotel rooms later in the conference. This off-stage showcase took place at 2am, and of course we were all knackered at this point. Yet again, the band delivered an outstanding show squeezed into a tiny room. Given the conference was days in at this point and I was operating on very little sleep, I spent just a moment speaking with Caoimhe on my way out, and we agreed it was best to connect more fully after the conference. Within weeks of returning from the conference, Caoimhe, Kíla and I were officially working together. Caoimhe and I certainly “clicked.” Just as we started to get traction on booking a North American tour for summer 2021, COVID-19 hit Europe and soon thereafter North America, hard and fast. The entire industry was quickly leveled, and our touring plans along with it.

CAOIMHE: The showcase delivered Kíla the bones of a North American tour and a strong desire from the band to head back across the Atlantic. I met with Culture Ireland and discussed the offers we had resulting from the showcase, and started the work on getting it all going in collaboration with Danielle. At the same time, I was coordinating Kíla’s European St. Patrick’s Day concerts. Kíla was booked to play several concerts in Paris, London, Dublin and Kilkenny over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, including a 6-day residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. Unfortunately, COVID-19 struck at the start of this tour, and Kíla had to return to Ireland from Paris on the 13th March before any of these concerts could take place.

DANIELLE: With the pandemic, the abundance of cancelled shows, and the anxiety and grief we all were experiencing, grew an opportunity. As a new agency, I knew that I was not going to sit on my hands and wait for the return of live shows. I couldn’t do that—to my business, myself, nor the artists that had placed their careers in my care! It quickly became clear that the pandemic was here for a while and that in-person concerts were not going to resume in just a few months’ time. Without music conferences, I also had no means by which to introduce my new agency to promoters. I soon delved into research for a means to host a series of virtual showcases so that I could promote my new agency to promoters across North America and start getting eyes and ears on my artists—and establish a unique space for myself among agencies as one that was innovative, caring, resilient, and passionate about the artists and the industry as a whole. 

CAOIMHE: In the early stages of lockdown many artists were taking to social media with live virtual performances, but quite often both the sound and the visual quality were poor. Coupled with the logistical difficulties of coordinating an 8-piece band on an online platform, I was reluctant to put Kíla on a virtual stage until we could guarantee the quality of both sound and vision. In May, we were approached by John & Bobby Vickers of Concert Deck to take part in ‘Lock Up Live’, and what resulted was a very high-quality recording that brightened up many a living room during lockdown.

DANIELLE: Caoimhe and I were both so energized by the events at FAI and the resulting offers to bring the band to North America. We wanted to use that energy we both still felt to build something entirely different instead. Kíla did their first livestream with Lock Up Live which was a great success. I also had a few artists on my roster here in the US producing high-quality livestream concerts and workshops. Promoters here were looking for virtual programming to remain engaged within their communities, to retain relationships with their sponsors, and frankly to stay active and in a positive space themselves.

CAOIMHE: Each of us in our own way were determined not to give up or give in to the constraints that the pandemic presented to musicians and live music. This may come down to female determination as each of us was driven by a force of energy, an energy I personally believed started in that hotel room in New Orleans in January 2020. Every decision we made, and every project we worked on, was collaborative and lacking in ego. Our goal really was simply to continue to get the job done, even under difficult circumstances.

DANIELLE: Following the band’s ‘Lock Up Live’ virtual concert in Ireland, Caoimhe and I discussed producing another concert with the band to be streamed specifically for North America. Together, we investigated technical solutions to hosting livestream concerts, ticketing platforms, and delved into video production as a whole, assembling teams alongside us and the band to ensure a successful deliverable. We divided up the work and leaned right into it. Caoimhe and I had complete trust in each other’s work and skill sets. Caoimhe and the band researched tech, stages, staff, potential dates for recording in an empty venue, and budget. Meanwhile, I was pitching the idea across the US and Canada to promoters that were Kíla fans (including those we knew from the FAI showcases), Irish arts organizations and Celtic festivals. We found that budgetary constraints would make it difficult for any one promoter to host an exclusive concert stream. We were all in a vacuous financial hole as the pandemic raged on, and no one had any idea when income from live shows would return, nor their usual budgets. 

CAOIMHE: Together, we produced an hour-long concert with Concert Deck and showcased it to 12 festivals and venues across the US and Canada in August 2020, each a financial sponsor, sharing the load. Now with Culture Ireland support, the concert will be streamed across the rest of the world during 2021. So far it has been to the US, Canada, Ireland, the UK, Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, and will hit Brazil, Australia, Asia and New Zealand later this year. 

DANIELLE: There are many strong women represented in Irish mythology: Brighid, Aine, Macha, Fionnuala, Caer and Morrigan to name a few, many of whom are shape-shifters, able to take on multiple forms. I like to think of Caoimhe and I owning some of that spirit energy in our Irish DNA. In retrospect, I see how our flexibility and willingness to shift our energies from booking an in-person North American tour to a virtual tour, and all that needed to be learned to make that happen, as something of a feat. We barely knew each other at the start of the pandemic. Yet we quickly forged strong professional ties through weekly zoom meetings and innumerable emails as we set about to make the Kíla Live virtual tour a success. We persevered through the pandemic, despite the repeated lockdowns, the loss of income, the heightened anxieties, and all the unknowns—and out of all that work, found success, and forged a friendship across the ocean.

CAOIMHE: As a band manager, being forced into the constrictive conditions caused by COVID-19 offered me a chance to be very creative. As well as continuing to organise quality online concerts, this involved a strong focus on grant applications, and maintaining a constant presence on social media. Collaborating with Danielle meant that each of us had a sounding board for our ideas. It gave us a supportive environment to openly discuss these ideas and to support each other as women working in a still predominantly male dominated industry. 

DANIELLE & CAOIMHE: We both had a genuine desire to facilitate the development of music, art, and creativity in an online world, and to persist despite the challenges faced by the industry resulting from the pandemic. It is a creative partnership rooted in respect, cooperation, and solidarity. Long may it continue! Beir bua! 

Truth and Social Media

Facebook owns WhatsApp and Instagram.  Twitter is owned by Twitter.  These are the social media platforms that I have used, watched and studied since early 2015.  I have had some success with all of these in promoting concerts and musicians.

Equally I have watched how these social media platforms operate. I have watched how hate festers on every one of these platforms, fuelled by anonymous accounts, algorithms and lately furthered by people’s fear and uncertainty around Covid-19. Twitter has taken some steps to try to address this but for as long as anonymous accounts can remain on these platforms, it appears to me that this hate fuelling will continue. Indeed on Facebook in particular, I believe it to be a  deliberate policy that plays into the hands of advertisers, political parties, conspiracy theorists, and extremists.

I don’t agree with the steps taken by these platforms to remove content that is contrary to advice on Covid-19. Freedom of Speech was fought for – it’s an important part of any functioning society. I think making it impossible to set up an anonymous account should be the first step in managing posts on the platforms. Tightening the law around defamation and incitement to hatred on social media would be another positive step. But removing posts that are contrary to official advice on Covid-19 makes no sense to me. We are all capable of doing our own research and in fact we have a responsibility to do so.

Social media can be alluring and intoxicating. I believe you, I believe her, I believe him are all things you hear on social media.  They believe me, she believes me, he believes me are reassuring statements leading to a false sense of community. Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. Come with me and wear a mask. Protest with me, don’t wear a mask.  None of this has any relationship with truth. I know this from my own experiences with social media. I learnt from my own mistakes. I can take any case I actively believe in to social media , be it homelessness, poverty, racism , homophobia, sexism, Covid-19, I will find a friend there who will agree with me, who will support me, who will believe me.  Except social media is not my friend. And the people who tell me they believe me could have all sorts of reasons for doing so. They may believe me or maybe they see a weakness in my beliefs that they can use for their own gain. Truth it is not.

I began to watch things even more closely when I became aware of the existence of the rise of far right,  extremist, racist, homophobic groups in Ireland, some of whom promise freedom for their followers under the guise of patriotism. Patriotism appears to a be a recurring theme for these groups with no acknowledgement of the war in Northern Ireland nor the steps Ireland took to achieve peace.  I particularly looked at the Roderic O’Gorman smear campaign, how it began and from where it originated. It originated on Twitter and it highlighted to me how easy it was to take a very important cause (in this case, the sexual education of children in our schools) and how easy it was to mis-use it.

I do not know Roderic O’Gorman nor do I support The Green Party. All I know of him is that he was made Minister for Children and is a married openly gay man. When I looked at the Green Party’s manifesto, it is clear that they agree with allowing children to make decisions around their gender, with parental consent. But they are not the only party to share this view and the curriculum in the schools was in place before Roderic O’Gorman took office.

A photo emerged of Roderic O’Gorman in the company of Peter Tatchell, an apparently ‘renowned’ LGBT campaigner. The photo was a few years old and had been taken at a Pride rally. Several anonymous accounts pounced on this photo and it very soon trended on Twitter. Something that is actually quite easy to do if you have enough accounts, (especially anonymous accounts) willing to keep tweeting about it. Calls were made for the resignation of Roderic O’Gorman because he was a paedophile sympathiser. The evidence was this photo with Peter Tatchell who based on my research, appears to be a very evil man and a paedophile sympathiser. Roderic O’Gorman maintained no knowledge of these comments, distanced himself from these comments, and said that other than this photo he had no relationship with Peter Tatchell.

What happened after this , is really when extremist parties can come into their own. Suddenly if you supported Roderic O’Gorman and believed his statement, you were a paedophile sympathiser and were not concerned for the safety of Ireland’s children. During this time one particular organisation released a statement stating that a gay man should not have responsibility for the Nation’s children because gay people actively choose not to have children.  The party line then became, we are activists fighting for the protection of our children in schools, are you saying we are homophobic? And it seemed to work, it was widely shared by parents concerned about the sexual education of their children in schools, and the sharing included sharing a video from Irish actor, John Connors. It should have been apparent to anybody watching that video that the man was in severe mental distress. But it didn’t seem to matter, it was widely shared. An extra voice at the march that then took place. John Connors subsequently apologised, it looked to me like a forced apology due to the threat of a defamation suit, but his comment about being used, was very true. He was used just as much as the protection of children in our schools, was used. Presumably the end result of more publicity for invested groups worked. And the social media platforms facilitated the means to do that.

A video appeared during this time about Covid. An extremely respected UCD professor, Dolores Cahill released a statement that could jeopardise her career as a professor. It fed into the censorship steps taken by social media platforms, in that it was removed several times and then put up again several times, thereby increasing interest in it. She did several interviews on it, mostly with organisations who were aligned with her views anyway. Several of the scientific statements in her video were proven to be false. But was it intoxicating and alluring? An Irish scientist debunking the narrative around Covid-19 in the middle of a lockdown? Who wouldn’t want to believe it? And even better she is the chair of  a ‘political’ party to bring it to a wider audience along with any viewer who aligns themselves with her, and either promotes or votes for her party at the next election. And the social media platforms facilitated the means to do that.

In Ireland at the moment, there is  a wilful and deliberate attempt to use social media to attract people to far right agendas by actively finding causes that have been desperately seeking a political voice and twisting them. It appears to be working – conspiracy theories are thriving on social media as is evidenced by the frantic, frenzied, and often unresearched posting and by the crowds that turned up at the Custom House in Dublin last weekend. It is a tactic also used by Donald Trump’s team. The beer halls of Munich in the 1930s were what Hitler used but the same principles apply here.

Many of the people aligning themselves with these conspiracy theories appear to be people who have dedicated their lives to holistic healing. Debunking the conspiracy theories does not seem to make any difference to their blind belief in them no more than warning them about far right vulture groups does.

Nobody fully understands Covid, some measures taken by Government are right and some are wrong.  As Irish citizens, we have a right to protest and a right to challenge government decisions or actions we disagree with. My question to those social media warriors furthering conspiracy theories on social media, and willingly getting into bed with far right groups to further them is – where were you on any march about homelessness over the last few years? Where were you when it came to criticising direct provision? Where were you? Because I didn’t see you until Covid effected your income stream.

Conspiracy theories are not truth. They are not holistic. They do not heal. But they are being used by far right groups with anti-immigration, homophopic and racist agendas and they are using social media to reel in anyone supporting these theories.  To find truth on social media, you really have to dig deep, you really have to research sources and you really have to be prepared to accept that lies are festering on all social media platforms.

Caoimhe x

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (or women) to do nothing” Edmund Burke

Lockdown Blues & Gigs….

I think everybody was tested this week with the continued lockdown, despite the slightly loosened restrictions. Personally, I was a bit zoomed out and increasingly worried at the impact the lockdown measures will have on our economy, and on the Arts Industry in particular.

I’ve actually never been as busy as I have been over the last few months, as I looked at creative ways for Kíla to keep working despite no gigs. I wrote grant applications, each of them like a college project, I worked with various creatives on projects, I even co-wrote a pitch for a TV show. Things I wouldn’t have seen myself doing at the beginning of 2020. And each of them have given me a sense of pride and achievement. Whether they are successful remains to be seen.

But this week, the future seemed bleaker. How an earth can pubs, venues and musicians work under social distancing restrictions? How can we justify, as a country, the fact that this lockdown may bankrupt this industry? Some of these venues and pubs may never re-open. How can we find a creative solution for this industry to survive and protect the jobs of so so many.

The Arts Industry is low paid anyway. People working in it, including myself, do not work in it for money. They work in it for love of the Art, whichever form that art takes. However Art has value, and I have been lucky to have been able to earn enough from this to meet my outgoings, and to do something with my life that I enjoy and find incredibly worthwhile.

In January, I was in New Orleans with the lads. We put the start of a US tour together on the back of it, which I continue to work on with contacts in the US, however it is very uncertain if it can take place, even in 2021. It may be 2022 or 2023. St Patricks Day Weekend 2020 was booked out solidly for Kíla with festival after festival, and our bookings for the remainder of 2020 were looking solid, both at home and abroad. One by one, they were all cancelled. I remained positive throughout all of this and threw my energy into anything I felt might generate income and art for a band of 8 musicians who currently cannot gig together.

So a bit of the lustre, hope and positivity left me at the beginning of this week. Unease, anxiety and cabin fever set in. I miss my friends and family. I want to see Kíla, Aindrias, the Lust for Life team in person and not on Zoom. I had a moment. I even had a little cry.

And then something magical happened. Kíla had a gig. An actual gig that could bring them together, while respecting socially distancing guidelines. It would be streamed on YouTube. It all happened very quickly and I immediately got into promo and PR mode, realising how important this was for us. I worked closely with the Lock Up Live crew to ensure we got as big an audience as possible within the timeframe. They are a team of techies, crew, sound engineers, camera men, all of whom we have worked with several times, and consider friends.

The Launch weekend was free but these gigs will eventually be pay for view. And so they should be . Art has a value. Seeing Kíla perform live on YouTube on Saturday made me so happy. It proved to me that we can still be creative even in lockdown. We can find a way for Art to survive. We can save the industry. We just all need to work together to do so.

Hats off to Lock Up Live, super job!! And I am so proud of Kíla for putting on such an amazing gig in very strange times. If you haven’t watched it yet, you can watch it at the link below.

The PayPal link is http://www.paypal.me/Kilarecords if you wish to contribute to costs.


I got 45% in my mocks in Economics..

I remember it so well..I was my Economics teacher’s star pupil at the time.  A man who is now principal of the secondary school I attended (and who I now speak to using his first name..sometimes..but mostly, unless I revert to Máistir)….

So anyway my Economics teacher (lets call him Frank) met my mother around about the time of the Mocks results at a parent teacher meeting. And Frank said he was shocked ‘SHOCKED’ at my poor result in the mocks. My Mother relayed this to me. Personally, I wasn’t shocked – I knew I hadn’t done the work but even then at 17, I had a bit of  an arrogant streak…I felt confident I would ace the leaving certificate exam. Why waste my energy on trivial class exams..or in this case ‘Mocks’. But I said none of that to my Mother or to ‘Frank’… and to be fair ‘Frank’ was one of my favourite teachers.

As it happened I did ace my leaving certificate Economics exam. My father helped me prepare for it and I got a very high mark. I went to a good school and I worked hard for the exams that mattered. The State exams! I worked hard for them. And I won a scholarship to University as a result.

But I did NOT work hard on class tests in my 6 years of secondary school, I often did not do my homework and if I was to be assessed on a continuous assessment basis, there is a chance I would have got a big fat ‘F’ as an overall score.

If the Leaving Cert had been cancelled when I was in sixth year, and I was to be assessed on my overall performance, well I am not sure how I would have fared. I was smart but I was shy. I was also lazy when it came to class tests. BUT I worked hard, very hard when I needed to. And I was good at exams.

If the Leaving Cert had been cancelled when I was in sixth year, I think I would have been screwed and would not have been offered any of the opportunities that came my way as a result of my good grades in those exams.

The Leaving Certificate exams are a foundation for exams everybody has to take in life. They should not be cancelled. I won a scholarship to university based on my exam results – there is absolutely no way I would have won that scholarship based on class participation or continuous assessment. Just no way.  The exams were what helped me shine.

I hope the Irish Government rethinks the decision they made on the Leaving Certificate today due to Covid-19.


Quarantine by Eavan Boland – RIP

Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.

by Eavan Boland

In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking — they were both walking — north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.

From Code (2001), reproduced by kind permission of Eavan Boland and Carcanet Press

Creativity creates Optimism – It’s a Lovely Day after all!

Today, in lockdown, I told myself to cop myself on. I had been swaying towards feeling a little sluggish, a tad sorry for myself, and generally just a wee bit sad and frustrated about the state we have all found ourselves in, in Ireland. Having no control externally can lead to having no control internally so I needed to nip that in the bud.

So I decided to write a list of all the things I like about me and my life. It took me some time, but I did it. The temptation in lockdown is to over analyse and beat ourselves up for past mistakes, maybe even current mistakes. There is also the temptation to think we are not achieving enough in lockdown, for me anyway. But these are surreal times, there are no rules. We all just gotta do the best we can.  So I kicked myself, I did some meditation, and I remembered how amazing and wonderful I am, and how amazing and wonderful we all are. This kind of self-love is not narcissistic in my opinion, it is necessary and important just now.

And so the day went on. First and most important step, what will I cook today? I read cookery books voraciously, I record every cooking programme I can, and I am trying very hard to improve my skills in the kitchen during this period. But the culinary advice I seek most just now is my Mum’s. An amazing cook and baker, I ring her every day to find out what she and Dad are having for dinner and despite me not eating red meat or pork, her recipes are my go-to, and I have managed to adapt them to my own cooking. I haven’t seen my folks in a long time now but that little cookery connection makes me feel like they are present in my meals, and I know I am present in theirs.

It’s Sunday so as a self-employed person, I then planned my week ahead. I have a bad habit of working at weekends but this weekend I slowed that down big time, in favour of me time, or to more accurately define it, still time.

Like lots of people I plan to cook myself out of this crisis, but I also plan to work myself out of this crisis. Creativity does not stop because of lockdown. In truth, creativity is enhanced because of lockdown. Mostly, I am using this time to be as creative within my job as I can be.  It’s exciting times if you look at it that way. Creative times. And creativity kills the negative critical voice that can creep in. Creativity kills the temptation to feel sad, because creativity makes the world look a bit brighter. It’s ok to feel sad. It’s ok to feel out of control. But use those feelings to create. Creativity creates optimism.

Remembering Bill Withers. It’s a lovely day after all.  (And its vegetable curry for dinner)

There was no rhubarb in Dunnes today…

Well there was one bunch…a pathetic limp little bunch that I couldn’t bring myself to purchase. I love rhubarb. I feel like I was reared on rhubarb. I just love the stuff. I have it for my breakfast every morning with oats..maybe its an O Riagáin thing. It’s possible. My older brother’s best man (and former housemate) commented on Fergal’s love of the stuff in his best man speech. Is it really that weird to love it so much? I talk to my Mum every day just now, as my folks are cocooning, (hate that word but that’s for another blog post) and every conversation mentions rhubarb…who has it and where can I find it?? (within 2km).

So anyway there was no rhubarb in Dunnes today apart from the one little limp bunch that I didn’t buy…

But it was great to get into town, I cycle in once a week now to do a weekly shop. I appreciate that I am so lucky that I live so near town, but initially, I found it quite depressing to wander into, what is essentially, a ghost town. But today, despite the lack of rhubarb, I found it way less depressing, in fact I found it strangely uplifting.

Several TDs were wandering through the streets, heading to Fallon & Byrne to buy their takeout lunch, and while everybody was obeying social distancing, it was comforting seeing that some businesses could continue to move, and that they were being supported by customers to be able to do that.

As I cycled home through Grafton Street, I could see that some shop doorways were being boarded up. That made me sad momentarily as I am not sure if that measure is to stop homeless people sleeping in doorways, or to prevent break-ins.  But neither that momentary sadness, nor the lack of rhubarb could dampen my joy of being out, being in town and seeing smiles on faces of all the staff in Dunnes, and people, just like me, doing their weekly shop.

A lovely Irish musician said to me recently that he gets dressed up to go to Tesco…those lucky Tesco customers (was what I was thinking, like who knows he might bring a keyboard next time?).

Me, I wasn’t too dressed up today, but my weekly shop to Dunnes is till my social  highlight just now.

And then I came home and I started to work again…if you haven’t been checking out all the lovely videos we have been posting to the Kíla socials, it’s really time to do so x

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Pat Tierney was a poet who died in 1996. Some of you may remember him from Grafton Street where he recited poetry, both his own poems and poems of others. He also wrote a self-published autobiography called 'The Moon on My Back'. The title was inspired by a dream he had had, as a child, that the moon was chasing him. He was energetic, joyful, and charismatic but he was HIV positive. The 4th of January 1996 was the first full moon of that year and that was the day that Pat died. Colm O Snodaigh penned a song about this, as Gaeilge, called 'An Ghealach ar mo Thóir'. Anyone who has been to the The Kíla Sessions at @whelanslive , may have heard him sing this. It is an unreleased song, as yet, but we recorded it while in Paris in March at the @centreculturelirlandais . At the moment we are calling these jam sessions, The Paris Demos. Dave Hingerty filmed this, during the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown (social distancing rules were respected) and we think it is absolutely beautiful. Inspired by Pat Tierney, the song and video brings two virus pandemics together, that each in their own way, brought the world to a halt. Codladh Sámh Pat agus Go raibh maith agat. Filmed & Edited by @davehingerty Recorded & Mixed by Brian Hogan ( @preachersson ) #poetry #writing #scribbling #poem #pattierney #poet #music #irishmusic #newmusic #band #musician #dublin #graftonstreet #Ireland #paris #france #art #kíla

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Day ???

Since my last post, I’ve been tested. For Covid-19. It was negative. I was tested a week after I was referred ( and at that point I had no symptoms) and I received the results 2 weeks after the test. So was I negative? Or could I have been positive? Who the hell knows? Do I have questions about the Covid-19 testing system? Hell yeah. Is this blog post about that? Hell No. I’m well, I have a lovely home, I go for walks and cycles and I am bloody lucky in my book just now. I have some freedom.

I still have my Irish Navy neighbours though ( see last blog posts). The L.E. Samuel Beckett left us so now its just me, my neighbours, and the L.E. Niamh. Niamh is slightly less intimidating than Sammy B. I feel I have less to prove if I sit beside her in the sunshine. Sitting beside Sammy B made me want to reach for my notebook, and pen, and then realise how I would never be as good a writer as him. But, you know, I take my lessons where I can get them.

I’ve found it hard to write this blog. I wanted to do a daily update but I just could not do it. In truth I have found it hard to concentrate  on any form of relaxation. On the other hand I have not found it hard to focus on my work. That bit has been easy to a certain extent. And Zoom calls with Kíla are a whole new world for me, entertaining, inspiring and challenging.

I’ve also learnt not to sweat the small stuff. Sounds clichéd but I don’t mean it to be. Things that bothered me before the ‘Virus’ no longer bother me..not only do they not bother me, if these things are not worth caring about, I simply let them go and I focus on me, my job, and my life.

Another thing I have had no difficulty in doing, is laughing. I laugh a lot. Sometimes at myself,  and of course sometimes by myself. I find myself very amusing. Laughter is a gift, and a gorgeous gift at that.

And I really adore the amazing quality of talent that is appearing on social media these days, and not just from Kíla or Aindrias, across the board.  I also do some work for A Lust For Life, and their content is just phenomenal just now, particularly in caring for people’s mental health at the moment.

Im gonna finish this post with a little clip from my trip to New Orleans in January with Kíla for Folk Alliance. Aindrias popped down too and although it was a very full on conference, on the Friday night there, once we finished work, we just laughed and we danced and we listened to, and watched great music (oh and the video isn’t too dark…the Manager knows best :) ).





Day 11 – Make-Up and Samosas

Self – isolation. Two words: self, and, isolation. Self-isolation.

Thus far under my self-imposed (see what I did there) rules of self-isolation,  I didn’t need to wear makeup. I didn’t need to physically attend meetings, and if I was in sweats all day, well that was just A-Ok with my self-imposed rules because I was in self-isolation…

That all changed today, Self-imposed rules are now being rapidly amended…

Firstly I wandered out on a short local walk today, keeping quite a distance from everybody (as I’m in self-isolation) and bumped into my neighbours. When I say bumped into, I mean I saw them across the square and waved, and then they came over to chat to me (don’t worry the 2 metres was respected)…but even though I looked like a spy trying and failing badly to be inconspicuous (think cap and scarf over face), it was still close enough for me to know that they knew that I wasn’t wearing makeup…

I came home thinking, crap, I can’t have the neighbours thinking I am letting myself go in self-isolation.  So I made a self-appointed decision to self-amend my self-imposed rules on socially distanced outings while self-isolated (still following?)  to include the recommendation to wear make up if exiting the house.

But you know step one, I’d amended the rules, all was ok.. so I was ready to face into all those projects put on the long-finger for the afternoon before my test on the Navy Ship tomorrow (otherwise known as a  cup of tea with my neighbours – see yesterday’s post).

But THEN, just as I had settled in, another bleeding spanner in the works. The ZOOM band meeting that had been talked about for the past several days, was going to happen at 3pm. 3pm??? It was already 1.30pm. Now I had no way out of the make-up dilemma, and in fact the clothes I was wearing were just not up to video conferencing…Crap my self-imposed rules around self-isolating just were not holding up. I scrambled for a mirror, put something resembling respectable clothes on, applied the makeup, sent an agenda, and did the call.

The call was great. So many great ideas flying around. The self-imposed rules have been amended now : If not sick anymore, get up , get dressed for work, and put on the makeup. And on that note, now its time for oven baked Samosas…A great way to use up my utterly delicious homemade vegetarian curry. Another rule to add…Self-isolation cooking is food for the soul x


Day 10 – Cup of tea anyone??

Day 10  of self-isolation and I woke up feeling healthy and happy. Symptoms gone but still waiting on my test…this morning I was determined to tackle every single project I had put on the long finger over the last few months.

I also wanted to check out the LE Samuel Beckett, docked at the end of my street for several days now, and confirmed as the new city centre Covid -19 testing centre. It feels weird that to be tested for Covid19, for me anyway,  it will be at the end of my street, at a testing centre managed by the navy.

Weirder still is that one of my very first school friends that I ever had (yes from when I was 4), lets call him Kevin, is a navy officer, and when I’ve met him at Christmas over the last few years, he has always said to me that if they are docked at the bottom of my street (which they sometimes are), that I should call up for a cup of tea.

I never did that..I always kind of thought…hmmm it’s kind of weird to knock on the door  of a navy ship and ask if my friend can come out to play ( my friend the navy officer, let’s call him Kevin).

So my day went on from there. I decided to brave a very safe social distanced walk, first time out of my house in 9 days and wandered down to the ship.  It was surreal to say the least. I felt emotional and impressed all at the same time and grateful too. I’m someone who loves to laugh but every so often lately, the emotional impact of what’s going on creeps in a little.

But it was great to get out. When I got home, I got a text to say my Covid-19 test is on Wednesday (exactly one week after I was referred for it), beside the Irish Navy ship at the end of my road. Looks like I will be calling in for that cup of tea after all, just in very different circumstances.

Then I rang my Mum, to see how Dad and she were doing. They are grand thank God. They were relieved that I’m getting my test and had some questions they wanted me to ask when I get it e.g. if you get the virus, can you get it again?

And then I took a deep breath and remembered those projects I had put on the long finger, the fact that it is business as usual for me work wise just now, and just like that I got on with things.  Getting on with things just now wil be tinged with sadness , laughter, joy and lots more but I gotta keep getting on with it.

I posted a video of this tune to the Kíla pages earlier. It’s very soothing.