Offaly’s Answer to Imelda May and Ciaran Lavery in a Ballinagar House Concert

Ballinagar is a quiet country village between Tullamore and Edenderry, with one pub a few shops and the usual amenieties. Tonight, there I had, thanks to fellow Tullamore Rhymer Anthony Sullivan, the pleasure of hearing Co. Down singer songwriter Ciaran Lavery, and also local girl Niamh Dooley, who I call Offaly’s answer to Imelda May.

Niamh Dooley sings the blues in Ballinagar
Niamh Dooley sings the blues in Ballinagar

At this gig, I was just an audience member, not doing any readings I could just relax, enjoy a few Red Bulls and the excellent catering of the Savages, which was laid on for free for all and sundry.

Niamhs song “Im Not Your Girl”, an original, was the stand out tune of the night for me, and her smile and style will carry her a long way in the music business, akin to the other great simger and smiler I compared her to, Imelda May.

Her style is very akin to Imelda, and also the late lamented local band Tae Lane, and its amazing how an area like the midlands can produce such fine preformers in this particular Tom Waits style music…

Ciaran Lavery -
Ciaran Lavery –

From County Down, Ciaran Lavery then proceeded to entertain us with a full set of original songs, from his EP “Kosher” and his album as well, which were on sale on the night.

“Orphan” got the crowd going, but “Left for America” was my favourite from Ciaran.

The night was a innovation. House concerts are all the rage in America, relayed to my by Anthony Sullivan, who writes the Midland Tribune column “On The Right Trax” in association with “TRAX” music in the Bridge Centre in Tullamore. For me, it is like the old Seisún reinvented, but with arranged artists as opposed to the crowd themselves being the entertainment.

Did it work? Yes it did. It was nice to hear songwriters and singers such as these in an intimate environment, as opposed to a busy pub where the music in the background noise, not the reason for the gathering. It is something I hope we see more of, not alone in this neck of the woods, but across Ireland.

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