Cork teen: I wanted to release a song before I was 16

A teenage musician from Clonakilty tells SHAMIM MALEKMIAN why she gave up formal education for home-schooling — and how it allowed her to pursue her singing dream
Cork teen: I wanted to release a song before I was 16
Ava Archbold at her home. Picture: Shamim Malekmian

A CLONAKILTY teenager’s love for singing has compelled her to give up traditional schooling to focus on honing her craft.

Ava Archbold, 16, says she was home-schooled as she found it hard to concentrate on music in a traditional school setting.

“It really didn’t suit me at all, because trying to learn algebra when all you want to do is music is just not helpful at all,” she says.

“So, I started home-schooling at third-year, which was last year.”

Although she had a hard time coming to terms with the idea of not seeing her school friends every day, Ava’s tenacity for following her dreams has paid off.

She has recently released her debut single called Mist. The song has been played on various radio stations since its release on December 13. It has also been included as one of the hottest releases of December by music magazine GoldenPlec.

Ava says she was determined to release her first single before turning 16, so the song came out a day before her 16th birthday.

“I wrote Mist when I was 15, and I really wanted to have it out before turning 16,” she says.

An alternative-style music track, Mist showcases Ava’s soft, silky voice, singing of homesick blues — although the young Cork woman says she doesn’t like to talk about “the meaning” of her songs”, adding: “They are open to interpretation. “

Av’s musical talent was first spotted by her father, Ronan Archbold, who is a fireman by day and a musician by night. His daughter, only nine years of age at the time, was murmuring Travelling Soldier by The Dixie Chicks when Ronan noticed a bit of magic in her voice.

“My dad heard me singing around the house, and he went, like, ‘Oh my god, she can actually sing,” Ava recalls.

Ava points to a brown leather couch she is lounging on and recalls how she and her father sat there, and she sang the song while he accompanied her with a guitar.

“Then he posted it on Facebook, and there was like a really big reaction because I was nine at the time,” she says, laughing.

Ava’s mum, Deirdre Archbold, is also a singer.

Ava says that going to weddings and funerals with her parents and watching them perform has inspired her choice of career.

Growing up in a family of musicians has caused her to treat music as something familiar and wholesome.

“I guess I find music comforting because it reminds me of home,” Ava says.

Ava Archbold performing at De Barra Folk club.
Ava Archbold performing at De Barra Folk club.

“Since I was really tiny, I was surrounded by my parents rehearsing.”

The young woman says singing has also helped her overcome self-confidence issues, saying she used to be “so shy that you’d have to convince me to post on Facebook”.

Ava adds: “But I have gotten a lot more confident, and I have made a music page on Facebook and promote my music there and on Instagram.”

Gigging with her brother at Clonakilty’s well-known bar and music venue, De Barra’s Folk Club, has also contributed to her recent confidence boost.

“It’s just an amazing atmosphere there, sometimes it’s really quiet, and sometimes it’s really busy, and I love both,” she says.

“And people are always nice. They come up to talk to me afterwards saying they thought it was amazing and well done and stuff. Everyone is supportive.”

Ray Blackwell, who runs De Barra’s club, says Ava’s “whole family play at De Barra’s”, adding that the young woman’s dedication to her craft has astonished him.

“At just 16, she has a dedication and drive to her craft that already make her stand out from the crowd,” he says.

“There is music in every single molecule of her DNA. As they say in Cork, ‘She didn’t lick it off a stone’.”

Ray recalls De Barra’s most famous resident, English musician Noel Redding — best known as the bass player for Jimi Hendrix — and how he had a vision for Clonakilty that included the growth and cultivation of local musical talent.

Redding settled down in Clonakilty in the 1970s. Rumour has it that he stuck a pin to a map and it landed on the West Cork town. He passed away in 2003.

“Noel Redding was so encouraging to young up and coming artists when he first moved to West Cork, and this is something we like to think we continue,” Ray says.

“Young people are the future; water the root, relish the fruit.”

Ava insists that she doesn’t regret her decision to quit traditional school and switch to a home-schooling programme as she still gets to socialise with her friends on the weekends.

“At first, I thought I would never be able to see them again properly, but we still meet up on the weekends,” she says, smiling.

In a recent article for The New York Times, American author Natashia Deón, who has home-schooled her daughter, argues that the unconventional education system doesn’t rely on exams for finding deficiencies that need to be corrected.

“Often in public schools, you move on at the end, and the holes are never filled. I thought that in home-schooling, I was filling holes as they came up,” Deón writes.

For Ava, home-schooling “is just another way of doing things”.

This young musician is hoping to study music or psychology in college.

Find Ava’s new single on streaming services such as Spotify, and to follow her musical journey see

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