"IF YOU HOLD DOWN YOUR HEAD, YOUR TEETH WILL FALL OUT!"
So says 80 year old Traveller man, Ned Mc Donagh, whose passion for singing can melt age and cultural barriers wherever he goes.
After forty years travelling the roads of Clare and Galway, he settled in Ennis where he's become one of the town's finest and best loved characters.
Ned has not had an easy life but he can still rise above hardship and grief to sing his heart out. "If you hold down your head, your teeth will fall out" he says " so you might as well sing".
Although Ned disliked the old songs favoured by his parents, he's brought plenty of that robust Traveller style of singing into his performances of contemporary classics such as 'Hit the Road Jack, 'Cotton Fields Back Home', 'I Can't Stop Loving You' and others. Producer Mary Owens brings us right into Ned's home on the Cloughleigh Estate in Ennis where most of the songs were recorded amidst the hustle and bustle of his family life.
She also takes us to visit an old camp site in North Clare where Ned remembers good times and bad as a young Traveller on the road. In 2007 -08, a series of tragic events unfolded in the Mc Donagh family and Ned speaks of how his songs help him shoulder the grief that followed.
The programme was made by Well Said Productions for RTÉ's 'Documentary On One' with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
It was produced by Mary Owens. The sound technician was Grainne O Malley.
First broadcast on 19th June 2010.
An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries.