Ed Sheeran is a busy man. Straight off the back of two intimate gigs in Dublin venues Whelan's and Vicar Street, the singer-songwriter is heading into a run of concerts in stadiums across the island of Ireland - and - there’s an urgent nappy change that needs his attention. Ed is travelling with his wife Cherry and daughter Lyra on this tour, as he tells Ryan Tubridy over the phone. As Lyra makes noises in the background, Ed takes a second to check that everything is ok; then reports on her progress:
"Is she alright? She’s saying nappy, Daddy, nappy, Daddy!"
The four-time Grammy award winner shuttles easily back and forth between anecdotes about Nashville and the delights of parenting, his favourite Irish concert venue and his enthusiasm for the idea of (secretly) buying a home in Ireland at some point.
This tour is unequivocally a family affair for Ed, as one person on tour has now become three. Ed describes little Lyra’s contribution to keeping his tour on track:
"Mate, she’s great, she’s great. The world’s best alarm clock."
Ed tells Ryan that he’s taking it easy with socialising during this tour; although he was spotted recently having a cheeky pint in Fitzgerald’s pub in Dublin’s Sandycove, as Ryan pointed out. Ed explains that it was part of a birthday celebration for one of his good mates, who is also one of the crew:
"Basically I was taking my mate Zak out for his 30th. I’m trying to go relatively sober, at the moment, for these shows but I’d missed his 30th birthday party on Friday, and he works on the tour, so I took him out for a curry and you can’t have a curry without a beer."
Most of the singer’s down time in Ireland will be spend with his wife and daughter and his large extended family from all corners of the island:
"I’ve obviously got a hell of a lot of family here in Ireland as well, so I’m seeing them and catching up with them in Dublin as well, they’re coming up to visit. And I’ve got family in Cork, so I’ll see them in Cork and I’ve got family visiting Limerick as well. It’s a family affair."
Ed says this is Lyra’s first time in Ireland and he’s really looking forward to introducing her to the Irish side of his life. It’s important to him that his daughter gets to know the people and places that inspired so many great memories for him over the years:
"I came here probably four times a year from a kid, and I would always spend my birthday here. And just to show my daughter the culture that her family comes from is a really nice thing, just to be here first hand, because she hasn’t been here yet, because it’s the first time she’s been here. My wife’s been to Ireland a few times, but not for this extended period of time, so we’re actually going to be submerged here, which is nice."
The question arises of a possible Sheeran homestead or holiday home in Ireland. For all we know, he could have one here already; but if he does acquire one in the future, it will be on the q.t., Ed says.
"Yeah, absolutely. The thing is, if I had a place here, I probably wouldn’t tell people."
Keeping in touch with his Irish heritage has always been important to Ed, and he’s determined that the next generation will get a chance to enjoy the things he loved about coming here as a child, he says:
"It’s such a special part of the world. It's one of those things like you know when you go to America and people are so in tune with their culture, even if they are, like, one sixteenth something, you know, they’re so in tune with it. I never ever want to lose that. It’s such an integral part of my family; like I don’t want to lose that with my children; I want them to come back and experience the same things that I did."
Ryan took the opportunity to recognise Ed Sheeran’s contribution to the Late Late Toy Show and Ed was happy to return the compliment:
"You know, I don’t think that there’s anyone that leaves a bigger impact than you, through, man. I mean it’s so nice – you make the show so fun. From what I can gather from shows of yesteryear, it was a bit more of a serious somber affair. And seeing you get so involved in it and dressing up and stuff, it’s so lovely to see."
Ed also praises the two venues he played in over the past couple of nights, describing Whelans as a "great music venue", and re-telling the story of his teenage epiphany at an under-18s Damien Rice gig almost 20 years ago, when he realised that the singer-songwriter path was the one for him. He also praised Vicar Street for its unique set-up:
"I do think it’s the best venue in Europe in terms of intimacy. It’s a big venue, but when you play the show, you can see everyone at all times, it’s not like there’s lots and lots of different floors and layers. I just really, really enjoy playing it. It was really good fun yesterday to do that. I’m really feeling it this morning because I played a bit longer than I was supposed to."
Ed reveals a few things about his choice of set list for the Irish leg of his tour and he talks about his collaboration with stellar songwriter Steve Mac and more in the full interview here.
You can watch Ed Sheeran on The Late Late Toy Show 2021 here
The Irish Sign language version of that Toy Show clip can be found by going here.