Remembering the great singer/songwriter Christy Hennessy, 15 years on... For Sunday Miscellany on RTÉ Radio 1, listen to A Very Kerry London Man by Mary Wall above.
Recently, while sauntering through Tralee, I came across the statue dedicated to one of that town's much loved sons, Christy Hennessy. Christy was a unique man, a unique talent and a very gifted songwriter and musician. In the early days and being painfully shy, he was perhaps scoffed at in more mainstream music circles, but he was blessed with that wonderful attribute, a very Kerry sense of humour. Taking a photograph at the statue, I remembered the night myself and my friend went to see him at The Helix in Dublin.
My friend, not being as acquainted with Christy’s reportoire as I was, was initially hesitant to accept my invitation, and only agreed to come along after some gentle persuasion and bribery. But by the time the concert had reached its finale, she was a convert, and stood enthusiastically at the end of the night to join a standing ovation.
With no fancy stage production, no fancy backdrop, just some accompanying musicians and a lone spotlight, Christy came out with his guitar and sang. He laughed and told stories in his own inimitable style to a warm and receptive audience. With his wide grin and blend of accents, this very Kerry London-man laughed self-effacingly at himself as he related stories of socialising in the dancehall in Tralee in his song Denny Street. He sang of his early childhood days in the song Cowboys, his life on the building sites in London in his song Soho Square and my favourite Roll Back the Clouds, his personal song of endeavour to break into the music business, which could serve as an anthem for anyone striving to fulfil an individual dream.
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After the concert, Christy came out to the foyer to shake hands and mingle with fans. My friend and I bought a CD, my previously sceptical pal buying A Year in the Life, and me buying Stories for Sale, which Christy happily signed and which we played in the car going home. Since then we have both enjoyed many different concerts, some of them larger, more elaborate productions, but that warm, intimate concert was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable, and one we still recall with great fondness.
Listen to more from Sunday Miscellany here.