Declan Nerney

Christmas Time’s A-Comin’ is the title of a classic American song that always does the rounds during the festive season. There are few on the Irish country circuit that cherish the Christmas season more than Declan Nerney.

When Declan recorded The Christmas Hooley a good many years ago, he could scarcely have foreseen the airplay bonanza it would provide year after year on all the regional stations around the country. There are some stations where it outshines Fairytale of New York in the popularity stakes, with constant requests from listeners.

“It’s like the man with the starter’s flag at the big race meetings. When December 8th comes around, the Christmas Hooley is up and running, galloping away ahead of the chasing pack.

“Year after year you can hear it several times each day when flicking through the stations. It never goes out of fashion. The song has been remarkably good to me,” says the Drumlish man who also cites Stop The World and The Marquee In Drumlish as two of his other most influential songs.

After two years of virtual lockdown, Declan is delighted to be back on the road again. “People just had to get back to normal again. We all missed each other and meeting people is such a central part of life’s journey.

“It is great to see the crowds back at sporting events and entertainment shows, the marts and the Ploughing and all the things that make us who we are. We all enjoyed the return of some of the summer festivals around the country this year and catching up with friends for the first time since 2019,” says Declan.

The Longford man is still glowing after the huge success of his Hooley In The Sun which attracted 600 people to the Puerto Antilla Grand Hotel in Costa de la Luz, Huelva, Spain. “It was our biggest ever and there was a very special buzz about it this year. We have a loyal audience that come year after year and there are always a good few who join us for the first time as well.

“The Hooley secured wonderful publicity when it was featured for four days in a row on the Daithí and Maura Today Show on RTÉ1 television. James Patrice and Colm Flynn provided excellent inserts into the show back home and these generated a huge response.

“We bring out many of the country’s leading singers and musicians and people travel from all parts of Ireland as well as England, Scotland and Wales. We even had a few from Denmark with us in October and they had a mighty time. Next year will be our 20th year. We did a few out in Santa Ponsa in Majorca, some in Fuengirola, one in Lanzarote, and some at other venues.”

After a two week break, Declan admits that thoughts begin to turn again to the 2023 promotion at the same venue. “We’ll be heading out again at the end of September and bookings are pouring in after the response to the show some weeks ago. Cassidy Travel in Dublin looks after the bookings. They are a brilliant team and have been so supportive and helpful to all of us,” adds Declan.

Meanwhile, he is also putting together a special 20 date concert tour which will get underway towards the end of February and run right through March and into April. “We have played so many dances over the years and enjoy them. But the concert scene is different and it gives me a chance to tell a story as well.

“I will be sharing recollections of my time with Gene Stuart and Brian Coll before fronting my own band as well as other memories from growing up in Longford, the rural farming scene and my interest in vintage tractors and all that. My guests on the concert tour will be John Hogan and Owen Mac. I have enjoyed a great time on the music scene down the years and it is great to be still in the game,” reflects the man who has always had a philosophical approach to the business.

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Mick Mulhern

Mick Mulhern from Mayo is no stranger to life on the farm. The man who has been making inroads into the country music circuit in recent years will launch his debut album in Claremorris Town Hall Theatre on Friday night, December 16. Early ticket sales suggest that Mick will not be short of support for the pre-Christmas show.

Mick Mulhern as featured in this weeks Country Sounds with Michael Commins

Mick, a sales representative whose work takes him to all corners of the island of Ireland, also takes care of the farm back home near Ballyvary. Anything to do with the land is second nature to him. He has an instant rapport with country people that serves him well when he goes on stage.

The opening track on the album is My Old Home In Mayo and also included are Far Side Banks of Jordan and A Heart That Will Never Break Again which were released as radio singles over the last two years. He is joined by Tony Allen (of Foster and Allen) for a duet on Folks Out On The Road.

The title track, Souvenirs, was composed by Niall Finnegan from Gort and a number by Clare singer, PJ Murrihy, entitled I’m Grateful, also features on the album. Daisy A Day, a chart topping song for Danny Doyle in the 1970s, is already proving hugely popular as well as Where My Eileen Is Waiting For Me.

Joining Mick and his band in Claremorris will be Tony Allen, Matt Keane, Kevin Prendergast and Eunice Moran. Tickets are now available from Claremorris Town Hall Theatre on 094 93 10999.