It is a long way from Arkansas to Offaly, but the outreach of the life and times of Glen Campbell has had a huge impact on the music career of Ciarán Rosney. Back in 2019, Ciarán took his Gentle on my Mind – The Glen Campbell Story on a concert tour of the country and it went down a treat.

Glen, who died in August 2017 at the age of 81, was an international superstar of the country genre and had a loyal following here in Ireland. The Rhinestone Cowboy was the song that he is best known for. Gentle on my Mind, Galveston, Wichita Lineman, Try a Little Kindness, and By the Time I Get to Phoenix, were also hugely popular standards from his songbook repertoire.

The influence of the Glen Campbell legacy on Ciarán’s career continues with the release of his new single, Arkansas Farm Boy. The song was written by Carl Jackson, the renowned country and bluegrass musician from Mississippi.

He wrote it on a plane trip while touring with Glen in Australia. It relates the story of Glen’s upbringing, ‘the seventh son born to an Arkansas farmer and a hard-working mother of 12’ to the ‘five-dollar guitar that led to a fortune’. Despite all the fame, the longing to go back to the simple way of life dwelled softly in the shadows of his mind.

Oh the weeds have grown high on the

farm back in Dixie

Where cotton and corn used to grow

And the memories run wild in this

A Kansas farmboy

Who’d give all he owns just to go.

When Ciarán came across the song, he knew he had to record it. “It is a great country song and I began to enjoy it more and more every time I listened to Carl singing it,” he says.

“My mother, Brieg, loves the song too so she was delighted when I said I was doing it.

“The sentiments in the song are deep and timeless and I can relate to a lot of Glen’s story as it reminds me of growing up at home around the bog in Offaly. Even though I now reside in Monaghan, I am very passionate about my own home and always love to get back.

“I recorded it with Jonathan Owens in Granard and the video was shot at my brother Stephen’s new purpose-built studio in Ballycumber (Offaly). This is actually the first production from the new studio and the response has been massive. It is always a good sign when you have other singers and musicians ringing you about it.”

Apart from the regular dance dates, Ciarán is looking forward to four concert dates in January where he will be joined by Stephen and his talented family. “We are calling it the Back in My Heart Once Again Irish Tour and it will be great to have family members join us for these special shows.

“The first will be in Hotel Kilmore in Cavan on Thursday, 11 January, and the next is in the Backstage Theatre in Longford on 14 January. Then we’re off to the Tullamore Court Hotel on 18 January, which is almost a hometown gig for us, and down in Brú Ború in Cashel on 19 January.”

With a new album on its way in early 2024, it is shaping up to be a busy year ahead for one of Offaly’s musical rovers.

PJ Murrihy.

PJ Murrihy

Clare farmer, singer and musician, PJ Murrihy, has just released The Road to Home, his first album in six years. The 17-track collection contains several songs composed by PJ, as well as some well-known standards.

The style of music and song featured will be familiar to followers of PJ, who came to prominence back in the 1980s with the release of a popular song from Newfoundland called When I Mowed Pat Murphy’s Meadow.

Many of his songs have also been recorded by several of the best-known names on the Irish circuit and that trend continues to the present as John Glenn from Armagh has just released Why is the Old Road Calling Me.

The man from Mullagh maintains a busy schedule with his own shows and guest spots in concerts all over the country. Music and farming have been his way of life over the decades and he says he wouldn’t change a thing.

Anyone having difficulty getting a copy of PJ’s new album, now on general release, can call him on 087 688 7480. Whether you are selling the pig or drawing little men in the ashes, you will enjoy the chat and banter anyway.

Matt Keane.

Matt Keane and Friends

The annual Matt Keane and Friends Christmas Shows will be held in the Claregalway Hotel on 5 and 6 January. The concerts have become an integral part of the music scene in the region and attract a loyal, warm and homely crowd year on year.

Matt will be joined on this occasion by his brother Seán as well as Orlaith and Laura Keane, Ellie May Naughton, Conor Connolly, Maria Fahy, Colm Naughton and Pat Coyne. Among the guests will be Anne and Monica Brennan, the Lackagh Comhaltas Group, and Irish dancers: Sarah O’Connor, Evan O’Brien and Maxine Spellman. There will also be a special guest performer on the two nights which will be announced shortly.

Matt loves the spontaneity of the shows in Claregalway. “They have become like a big reunion and it is especially lovely as we’re all still in the Christmas spirit. We get great support from the west and some people travel from as far away as Tyrone, Down, Wicklow, the midlands and south.

“We just let it happen and keep it as natural as possible,” says Matt. “It is like a party in the house. The late-night sessions after the shows are also enjoyed by many who are staying around. There’ll be music, song, dance and tattering and we are looking forward to two great nights.”

Tickets for the shows on January 5 and 6 are €30 and can be bought from the Claregalway Hotel (091 738300), Quinn’s Shop in Tuam (093 26060) and Keane’s Shop, Caherlistrane. Doors open at 8pm and the shows get underway at 8.30pm.

Read more

Country Sound: an autumnal round-up

County Sound: the old road is still calling for Armagh’s John Glenn