Among the rolling hills of Monaghan, Ciarán Rosney has plenty of time to ponder the twists and turns of life’s journey.
It is a situation he shares with almost everyone else in the music business that have seen the careers they love come to a virtual standstill due to the coronavirus lockdowns now closing in on two years.
There is huge unrest throughout the entertainment industry with the manner in which the music and arts scene has been torn apart by ongoing restrictions.
They look across at America and see venues operating to full capacity and people getting on with their lives.
The Grand Ole Opry is playing to full houses every weekend again while various acts and big shows are out on tour across the US.
The Offaly native, who lives with his wife Jean and their daughters Sarah Jane and Della, in Latton near Ballybay, has penned a few songs in recent months and is planning a music weekend in Donegal next October.
Ciarán says it has been a very tough two years for all associated with the scene here in Ireland. “A lot of people have invested so much in the business and these are very trying times for so many. I feel the scene is hanging in the balance right now and, unless there is a swift return to dancing and concerts, it will be very hard for many to make the comeback again.”
Ciarán was part of the teaching team behind the first Applied Music course in Ireland which was hosted at the Dundalk College. He enjoyed his time there but left the post in 2012 to pursue his dream of a full-time career on the music circuit.
A welcome diversion in recent weeks has been involvement as a mentor for the new series of Glór Tíre which is being shot at a new location in Galway. “It was nice to get the call and I am working with two of the contestants. Deirdre Keane hails from Connemara and is living in Banagher, while Katelyn Molloy is from Claregalway. We are all enjoying the early stages of the series which is due to air on TG4 in January.”
Some months ago, Ciarán released his latest video for the song Uncle Pen. The number has been an evergreen on the circuit since it was released in America back in 1950 by Bill Monroe who wrote it about his uncle.
“We had great fun recording the video for this up-tempo number just outside Enniscorthy where my brother Stephen directed the shoot. I was delighted to have Charlie Arkins play the tune as he is such a legend on the country scene over the decades. It was good to have Billy Burgoyne feature in the video as well. Billy was a member of the original Ray Lynam and The Hillbillies band.”
Ciarán is hoping that things change rapidly in the weeks ahead and that the entertainment scene reopens in full. Meanwhile, friends of Ciarán can look forward to his dancing weekend with guests in the Abbey Hotel in Donegal Town from the 21-23 October 2022.
The McBride name from Oram, Castleblayney, commands the same kind of regard and respect in Irish country music as the Carter Family in America. For all of 50 years, Big Tom McBride held such a special place in the hearts of so many hundreds of thousands of people that he was always and deservedly known as ‘The King’ of Irish Country Music.
Now, Thomas McBride Jnr has just recorded his own debut album. Eleven of the songs are ones intimately associated with Big Tom while the other is his new release, My Father Was Big Tom, composed by Gerard Dornan from Down, who also produced the album at his studios in Ballynahinch. Charlie Arkins from Meath and Stephen Smyth from Down also feature prominently on the album.
Thomas is settling nicely into the country scene and among the legendary songs by his father that he includes on the album are Back To Castleblayney, Gentle Mother, Where The Grass Grows The Greenest, Cheatin’ Fire, I Would Like To See You Again, Be Honest With Me, and Cottage On The Borderline of Galway and Mayo.
“Gerard Dornan did a great job producing the album and I would like to thank all who lent such good support along the way. Fabien and Gregory Murphy from Emyvale did an amazing video for My Father Was Big Tom.
“They included some lovely nostalgic clips they had filmed some years ago and it all came together so well. There has been a great feedback to the song and video,” says Thomas.
The planned launch for the album in the Glencarn Hotel in Castleblayney was postponed last Friday night due to restrictions but a new date has been pencilled in for the 18 February at the same venue.