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A Different View

Highlights provides insight into life’s work of rare gem

Dave O'Connell

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Johnny Duhan performing.

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

There may never have been a more appropriately titled album than Johnny Duhan’s new release – because Highlights is just what it says on the sleeve….a stroll through the career and the music of one of the country’s most talented singer/songwriters.

Everyone knows Johnny for the Voyage – and that would be sufficient claim to fame for anyone – but Highlights paints the fuller picture; it represents a musical biography for a man who has been in the business for more than 40 years.

Based in Galway for so much of that time, he first came to fame in his native Limerick as a member of the seminal Granny’s Intentions – what is it with Limerick and Grannies? – a sixties beat group whose Honest Injun was the first big hit Irish album in the UK.

Christy Moore called Johnny ‘one of our greatest songwriters’ – the late Ronnie Drew agreed – and Highlights illustrates exactly why. Even the planning of this new release shows the depth of thought that Johnny puts into everything he does.

Because it dips in and out of four earlier collections that effectively constitute his life’s work – and thus it’s a beautiful reflection on life, from the mind of a deeply spiritual man.

Those albums demand listening in their own right, because each has a central theme that might see them described as something of concept albums in an earlier time.

Just Another Town is about growing up in Limerick in the early sixties, a world of hard living, poverty and the shadow of the docks; To the Light sees him set out on Don Quixotic adventure in search of fame and love; the Voyage – like the title track – is a reflection on marriage and love, while the Flame reflects his deep faith and humanity.

He’s had more than four albums of course – the Burning Wood also touches on spirituality, and Winter grapples with the struggles of ageing and later life – but Highlights draws from those four particular cornerstones of his foundation.

Now Johnny has re-recorded and remixed some of the songs from each of those earlier albums, so that Highlights is more than just a collection of his finest work. That’s there for sure, of course, with Just Another Town, Daredevil, Girls in My Memory, Two minds, Trying to Get the Balance Right and his song, recorded by the Dubliners, Don’t Give Up Till It’s Over.

The Voyage is there of course – a new version of a song that Christy Moore took to new heights and which now appears to be as intrinsic a part of every wedding day as the cake itself.

But for me, if he only recorded one song, Your Sure Hands would be more than enough – it might well be the best song ever written to empathise with the difficult years so many teenagers face as they come to terms with all life seems to throw at them.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Pandemic still allows nature creep out through the cracks

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It may be delusional to try and seek the positives in this maelstrom given that the world – and humanity – as we know it is so fundamentally under threat.

But it is unfathomable darkness that makes us appreciate the joy of light – and everywhere we look there are extraordinary things happening to give us a sliver of hope.

Of course, top of the list is the dedication and commitment of so many who put their own needs and worries to the back of the queue so that they can look after others.

From the consultants who never sleep to the neighbours who do the shopping, the world is full of truly great people whose work ethic and kindness show us that all is a long way from lost.

Even those who have suffered either the medical or economic reality of this awful pandemic have seen the light through the crack; so many of those now without work are the very ones helping others through the nightmare.

Our world will be changed forever – and that’s with the hope that we survive – and this may not be a one-time thing, but we might just have recovered our humanity in the depths of a global crisis.

Someone saw the positive in having no planes in the skies; you can hear the birdsong even in the shadow of major international airports.

Much was made of the fact that the canal waters in Venice – devoid of the gondolas and tourists – were suddenly clean again, and healthy enough for fish to thrive there for the first time in living memory.

Someone saw the world from a satellite pic and could see China, because it wasn’t engulfed in smog.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

We can do without so much – but not the human touch

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Who’d have thought we’d miss a hug so much? Who would have believed that not being able to shake hands with someone you’ve known all your life could prove so soul-destroying when in reality there is so much more to worry about?

Like everything else, it’s only when the chance is gone – albeit just for now – that you realise how much you loved it, and how bereft you are for its suspension.

That simple gesture, a hand on the shoulder, a touch on the elbow…a little acknowledgement of how happy you are just to casually bump into someone on the street.

But the streets these days are very different places, and the bobble of heads all the way down Shop Street has been replaced by the tumbleweed of a ghost town.

And rightly so, because everything to do with this awful virus is about keeping your distance; in the long run that’s our best chance of keeping down the numbers who become infected or seriously ill, and thus we ensure the maximum make it through this trauma and out the other side.

But it doesn’t mean that it isn’t utterly heart-breaking to see our own town – like every other city, town and village – reduced to a shadow of glorious itself.

Even in the protected space of our own homes, nothing is as it used to be; family members keep their distance for all the right reasons, just so they’re safe and they keep us safe too.

Hopefully there will be any number of things we will appreciate like never before when all of this is over – our health, our life, our families, our work, our charmed existence.

But we’ll also cherish the simple gesture of outstretched arms that welcome you into an embrace; a firm handshake that lets you know your friend is delighted to see you; that easy way of stopping for a chat on the street as you encounter someone you know.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Home is where the heart is – and where roots run deepest

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The remarkable thing about Americans is that most of them claim to be from somewhere else; rarely will you meet one who won’t be claiming their ancestors were from somewhere else.

You have the Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, Hispanic – and the only ones described as Native Americans are those who were once described as American Indians, and who were hunted onto reservations by the colonial invaders.

About 33 million Americans — or just over ten per cent of the total population — described themselves as being of Irish ancestry in the 2017 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

A huge percentage of them have never set foot in Ireland, and if they did, they’d probably be shocked that it isn’t populated by Little People with Darby O’Gill as their leader.

But even from far away, they love all things Irish; just look at the Parades for St Patrick’s Day where the big cities’ rivers are turned green and everyone is a leprechaun for the day.

Those who emigrated across the Atlantic – whether by choice or circumstance – also hold their Irishness dear; it’s a generalisation of course, but you’ll know of emigrants who are more Irish since they left Ireland than they ever were when they were here.

Because whether we like it or not – or indeed even choose to acknowledge it – there’s an unbreakable gravitational pull towards the place we first called home.

For many the bond is simple; they never left their childhood town or village, but for others – on different continents and in different time zones – that pride in their place or parish remains the invisible anchor.

Because it doesn’t matter when, or how you leave home; you can never deny your roots or where you come from. And while we’re all citizens of the world, blessed with a global outlook, you are the sum total of all that has gone before – and that starts with home.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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