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Music Review: Mick Hanly? Do you know him?
by William Ramoutar
Well, listen till I tell you. He is worth the trouble getting to know. It’s not Irish music as we know it! But it’s as Irish as you get sometimes. With songs of abuse, drink, school, love and everything else that goes on in everyday life, wherever you are.
Mick was born in Limerick in 1950 and grew up like the rest of us, under the threat of corporal punishment that was brandished above our heads and backsides. Actually until well into the 1970’s, when I finished going to school.
The first time I saw Mick, I was so upset, because as luck would have it, I had just heard my favourite band Moving Hearts, were playing in the Baggot Inn in Dublin, in the early ‘80’s one night and as soon as work was done that night, off we went down to The Maggot, as some called it. Of course it wasn’t open yet, so around the corner we drifted for the obligatory doner kabab which was the sustenance of the night crowd in those heady days of unemployment or at least pending.
Anyway, as soon as the doors opened, in we went and sidled up to the bar for a pint of the black stuff and what ever yer havin’ yerself. A stocky man in black was sipping a pint and as shy as I was at the time, I knew after a second look, it was the genius bassist of the band, Eoghan O’Neill, yet I didn’t have the nerve to even say how great I thought he was. I just nodded and he smiled. About twenty minutes later the lights settled on the stage and out rambled this diverse collection of artists sans Christy Moore, who was supposed to be the lead singer! “Where is he? Who’s yer man? All these words were ringing in my ears, as they launched into their first tune and this bearded boyo, started to belt out the familiar songs I had come to love. He was introduced to us, but by this time almost half way through the night, he had already made the band his own. He had melted seamlessly into this brilliant amalgamation of artists from diverse musical backgrounds, jazz, classical, rock, thus the name, Moving Hearts. In fact these blokes could play anything and Mick proved he could sing anything. Twenty five years later, he is still proving it.
He has written “Past the Point of Rescue” a song that went to number two in the American charts by being covered by Hal Ketchum, but that’s not all he has written. They are songs of rare insights into life, from the cradle to the grave, that will go on being recycled by other artists, many famous ones already I might add, but rarely sung as well as by the man himself. By the by, one of his cds, Wish me Well, also has a book that is available on amazon.com as are his cds although they are imports. The book, Wish me Well, Notes on my sleeve is the subtitle, is a superb insight to early fifties life in rural Limerick and continues through to Mick’s discovery by the general public because of Ketchum’s Rescue of Mick’s song. Not that any of his songs need rescuing! In fact someone with half a brain in the music industry has now reissued the Moving Hearts catalogue and you can now hear him in all his glory, as the man in charge on their “Live” cd.
Mick’s continuing catalogue contains the aforementioned “Wish me Well” , as well as “Wooden Horses”, “Live at the Meeting Place”, “Warts and All”, “Happy Like This” and “All I Remember” which has Mick’s rendition of Past the Point of Rescue, his own song which far exceeds anything attempted by Ketchum or indeed, dare I say it, Mary Black. There is also a superb tune that although it brings back some rough memories of my own emigration to this fair Country I cannot help but revisit it from time to time to hear the consummate duet of the bould Mick and the original Galway girl herself, Dolores Keane. I know it hit the charts hard in Ireland, but should have been just as popular as many lesser tunes of it’s ilk on the US side of the pond and beyond.
Find some of Mick’s work, the tunes are life lessons, by this sometimes gritty, but always glorious wordsmith, whose time should already have been here and I wouldn’t have to go on at you like this!
Mick Hanly. Remember the name.
Photo Credit: Mick Hanly
Wish Me Well CD and other recordings are available from Amazon UK
Warts and All CD and other recordings are available from Amazon USA
Wish Me Well - Notes on my Sleeve hardbound book is available from Amazon USA
BIO William Ramoutar
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Review written by William Ramoutar Presenter of Irish Ways Radio Programme, St Augustine Florida
Fri, Nov 3, 2017
The Round Towers
The Round Towers of Ireland are remarkable among the world's ancient monuments; one author has called them 'Elegant, free-standing pencils of stone.' Today, 65 survive in part or whole. Hand-crafted in native stone and cemented with a sand, lime, horsehair and oxblood mortar - a technique imported from Roman Britain - it's said by many historians that they were built by monastic communities to thwart Viking invaders. And yet, there's reason to believe that the towers were built long before Christianity came to Ireland. Whatever their origins, monasteries did indeed flourish where the round towers existed. And why not. These imposing edifices provided a watch tower, a keep and a refuge.
Image: By kind permission of Stephen Cassidy, The Cassidy Clan.
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According to the 30 or more reviews we've read, if you own just one Irish Christmas recording, this should be it. Featuring Anthony Kearns, Ronan Tynan and John McDermott, we are treated to both solo and trio performances of a dozen or more best loved holiday airs, sung in their trade-mark Irish tenor style. As one reviewer cleverly observed, if these three sang the phone book, she'd buy it!
Click here for Home for Xmas