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Announcing details of my new show on Thursday 17th of May

Well, its finally come to the time where I am able to tell everyone about my brand new show which will kick off here in my home town of Carlow on Thursday the 17th of May. Its taken a little while what with one thing or another but we are finally well on the way to what will hopefully be a great night.

After being lucky enough to win Glor Tire 2011 it was always my intention to try and fulfill a dream I had always had. This dream was to do a series of shows around Ireland to introduce myself to people and have a band with me. I have been singing and playing music and doing my own one-man gigs since 2000 and my first recording was a 4 track tape in 1997. God! I can still remember recording that now as I write. We spent a couple of Wednesdays in the Studio and it was recorded in John Street studio in Enniscorthy in Co. Wexford. I was still in school at that time and this recording was done during the summer holidays. It was all very exciting at the time for me and all I wanted to do was to be able to get myself played on radio and to possibly be able to look forward to leaving school when I had done my leaving cert and be able to consontrate fully on a musical career. That was only the start though and I did have to wait another few years before I could start properly devoting more time to gigs and doing my own shows myself, just me and my keyboard.

On the 17th of May I will launch a brand new show which will kick off at the Seven Oaks hotel here in Carlow. This will be a completely new step from the one I took all those years ago when I went into studio for the first time. My aim with this show is to introduce myself and the music I like to sing to as many people as possible. This is my own independent production. I want to get my own name out there and I am thrilled that I have some friends in the business that are going to come along and support me on the night and sing a few songs. Appearing with me on the night will be my long time friend Mary Darcy. Mary has been so influencial in terms of my musical career. I remember going to see her when I was small and listening to tapes of Twos Company which was the duo that she was a member of with Eamon McRory. My parents took me to see them many times and we formed friendships with both Eamon and Mary. I later worked on an album with Eamon before he moved from Ireland to where he now lives in Australia. Mary has been the one person over the years that has been able to give me that little bit of confidence or point me in the right direction when it was needed. All I would have to do is pick up the phone to her and she would be able to advise me on the best way to approach things whatever the situation. It was due to her that I started playing and singing on the Gertrude Byrne All Star Irish-American Cruises. She also took me to New York twice with her for gigs and has opened doors for me to other opportunities also. I am delighted she is going to come and be the MC for the evening and to sing a few songs also. Also appearing with me will be Trudi Lalor who I worked with for Glor Tire and who I have been friends with now for over ten years now. We have always enjoyed working on different tours together and especially when we got to work on TV for the Glor Tire competition. Des Willoughby is a fantastic singer and a guy that I have great respect for. I am delighted that he is coming along also. Adrian Ryan is the brother of Derek Ryan who is making a big name for himself on the country scene in Ireland and in Britain at the moment. I have known both Adrian and Derek for many years and remember them as the Ryan Brothers and what great work they did with each other in the music scene years ago. I am delighted Adrian is able to join us on the night. He is bringing out a new album of his own and I am also delighted that he has ask me to come along and support him later in the month. Unfortunately Derek can not be with us this time but hopefully he will for a future show. Teresa And The Stars are a wexford based group. Again I have known these guys for quite a number of years now and Tony Kehoe will be known to a lot of people in this area for his programme on Southeast Radio in Wexford. I am delighted they will join us on the night. also, I am delighted to have Damien Bowe coming along. I have only gotten to know Damien over the past while but have enjoyed appearing at a few different functions with him and like all the other people coming along he is an extremely nice guy and its always important to have people like that in this business. My MD on this occasion is going to be Ollie Hennessy and myself and Ollie have worked on many different projects. I enjoy sitting with him and listening to his creative ideas and it really is great to work with someone like him. I know that he is putting together a band of great musicians at the minute and it promises to be a great night. I do hope that both Ollie and myself can create a show with some little surprises and also with songs that people will all know and love and will want to sing along too. There are one or two little songs that I want to do and I have been having great fun with Jennifer as she tries to guess what they are. I know though that there are going to be a few songs that I am going to do that she is hopefully going to like.

Shows like this one can’t happen with just myself. I am so lucky to have the help and support of my family and its going to be all hands on deck from here on in. Tickets are going to be on sale later this week at a cost of €15 and I am tweeting and posting to my Facebook page as to the places that they can be purchased in. People can always email enquiries to me also and I will be happy to get back to them that way. Only time will tell and I have had an amazing year where music is concerned and people have been so good and supportive. Hopefully we can raise the roof here in Carlow and get things off to a great success.

Leadership

I hadn’t planned writing in here at all tonight. In fact, I only decided to do it about two minutes ago.

Tonight a new reality sort of tv show started on RTÉ1 called Secret Millionaire. I actually wasn’t going to give it the time of day. I am getting sick of these kinds of shows on TV. I just said so to a friend the other night while giving out about the fact that I have to pay my licence fees again and all for so many of these shows either featuring selebrities making idiots of themselves or just people doing all sorts of things that really we don’t have to have on our TV screnes all the time. This show grabbed my attention however. I actually went to turn it down at one point to make a phone call but kept listening. The person that they were featuring tonight picked out a few projects in a disadvantaged area of Dublin and not revealing his identity to people in the area he set about trying to volunteer to do some good for the community. He helped people involved in the Carers association, a local football team for kids and a charity that deals in suaside provention. He openly talked about how suaside had memories for him of a friend that had sadly taken his own life and you could see that this charity was impressing him with the work they do. At the end of the show he just walked up to the individuals that he met during the course of his time there involved with the three different organisations and handed them cheques from his own personal funds to allow them to carry on with their work. The amounts of money he gave those people will make such a difference to them and the work that they do.

At this time here in Ireland we have a couple of things happening. We have a situation where we have an election going to take place so as we can elect a new president. We have also unfortunately a situation where services which have been in place to support the most vulnerable are being cut and we have people retiring on very well paid salaries to receive extorsionate pensions. We have children who need class room assistance and other such services being left with nothing and yet time and time again people will always say, children are the future and we need to educate them. This country doesn’t need a new president. This country needs a leader. We need more people like that gentleman on that show tonight to actually believe in what the people on the ground are doing and help them in their ongoing efforts to try and make this a better place to live. I suppose to a lot of people that don’t come across these problems where they need to depend on help to just get on with their lives and to be able to lead normal independent lives its a case of its not something that affects me so I don’t need to worry about it. Look, to a point we all take a view like that about something or other we are only human at the end of the day. It just makes me so sad and frustrated knowing we live in a country where people have a constant battle just to fight for their needs and independence and so on. I personally won’t be voting for a new president this time round. Lets hope we can just have more proactive people like that gentleman on that show earlier to come out and help people so that we will have less people in need of help because of lack of services for them. Am I asking too much? Do people really care enough about each other still?

My dog Ralph and some Guide Dog info

Well, some people will know of my Guide Dog Ralph from my tweets. if you follow me on twitter but maybe some of you might not have heard of him, so I would like to write a post about him and also just tell you about something that is happening very soon concerning fundraising.

Ralph is my eight year-old Lab Retreaver cross Guide Dog. I don’t have a photo of him to stick up here but at some point soon when I am more sure how to do it and when I actually have a picture of him I will put one up for all to see.

In late 2004 I put the wheels in motion to purchase my house which I am still living in today. I was still rather young at the time and some of my mates thought I was mad to be settling down with a mortgage at that age but I was satisfied that I was making the right decision and I have to say that going through with it was one of the best things that I have done. I needed independence. Where I was brought up was out in the countryside. I loved the area and still do, but I couldn’t get from a to b independently on my own even with Ralph with me so the only thing for it was to move closer to town and to where I would have access to shops and pubs and restaurants and cinemas and other amenities like that which I could use and not have to depend on people to take me where I needed to go all the time.

The house purchase was completed in February 2005 and myself and Ralph moved in. This was when we just took off on our own adventure. We had been commuting too and from Dublin for work on a daly basis and were living at my parents house. This was a two hours round trip for us which started with my mother taking us to Carlow train station by car. I was now lucky in that I had purchased my home close enough to the station that I could walk there and back with Ralph and we had everything close at hand. He was still rather young at the time but he was very relaxed and mature and enjoyed this new challenge and loved getting out and about learning new routes around the town. Having grown up here apart from the time I went away to attend school I was delighted to learn more routes by myself and be able to get too and from places that I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own before.

I can only use the word fantastic to describe what it feels like to me walking around with Ralph while he is working. He loves it and is so prowd and confident in what he does and he really shows it also. I just feel that I can see because I am guided around obstacles that I wouldn’t have known were there and because I am not walking along tapping a cane around to find things to bump into or make contact with before getting on with my journey again. I can go at the same speed as anyone else while walking and I am a quick walker. My direction also certainly is more acute with him also. I am not sure why this is. I think it is because we just walk around at a normal speed and also it might be something in how Ralph is trained to walk in a straight line and stop at the edge of a kerb when he can’t go any further and wait for more instructions from me.

At home he is also a great companion to me in the house and I never feel alone with him here. Our friendship is not like the human kind so people saying that he must be my best friend does annoy me at times. I have plenty of friends and some very good and supportive close ones. Just because a blind person has a Guide Dog doesn’t mean this dog is automatically their best friend in the world. I do love him yes and have some great chats with him but he can’t talk back. Now, if he could he would tell me to shut up I just know he would haha.

I am not going to go into the responsibilities of having Ralph and how he has to be looked after and stuff in this post. I wanted to just give you a sense of what he means to me and what its like for me to have the independence that he gives. My good friend Jen does a great job of topics Guide Dog related on her blog and I would recommend you all check it out. If you are a music lover like myself she might even interest you with her musical postings also. Her latest post at the time of me writing this one refers to Darragh and his post Thanks Freddie which he wrote about his retired dog Freddie. This post that Darragh wrote got great attention from people and when you read it you will understand why.

My main reason for writing this post came about over a week ago when I was asked to write a peace for Quinn’s blog to just talk about myself and Ralph. This peace is being used in a post about a head shave which is taking place in Kerry at the end of this month. Apparently one of Quinn’s owners is getting all his hair shaved off and all proceeds will go to Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. Do check it out and if you can at all give a few quid towards this very worthy event. A big Thanks must go to all Quinn’s Kerry family for their hard work and dedication to Irish Guide Dogs. As a Guide Dog owner I think I can say on behalf of other Guide Dog owners a huge thank you to you all and keep up the great work.

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