My best friend? Our 100 year old mum

Musician Mick Daly talks about his family and career ahead of his Cork Folk Festival gig in the Triskel
My best friend? Our 100 year old mum
Mick Daly, musician.

TELL us about yourself;

I play music, different genres over the years, mostly traditional Irish and American bluegrass and Old Time.

Where were you born?

I was born in Cork, the Erinville my mother tells me.

Where do you live?

I’ve lived off Wellington Road since 1986, it’s a quiet cul de sac generally — unless they have parties across the road.


Two brothers and a sister. We’re close enough, taking care of a 100 year old mother you get pretty close.

Best friend?

I’ve so many friends I couldn’t distinguish. My longest and oldest best friend is my mother who was 100 in June. She was and still is a great mother.

Earliest childhood memory?

A neighbour’s child telling me about a boogie man down the back of the garden in Blackrock.

Person you most admire?

Doc Watson, born Arthur Lane Watson, Deep Gap, North Carolina. 1923-2012. He was an extraordinary guitarist, blinded as a child by an eye infection. A huge influence on guitarists in his lifetime, I first heard him on a 1963 album Oldtime Music at Clarence Ashley’s. He is one of the reasons I still play so much of that music! I met him once in Cork when he played in Connolly Hall. A really nice guy and, by all accounts, was exactly that throughout his life.

Person who most irritates you?

Has to be Donald Trump at the moment. I don’t think anyone compares to him.

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why?

Blindboy Boatclub of the Rubberbandits, just had his book published and has some interesting ideas, it’s probably only a matter of time before he becomes involved in politics…’tho we may have to wait a while!

Where was your most memorable holiday?

I don’t do holidays but there have been some very memorable moments on tour with different bands over the years. I toured all over England every summer for some years with Any Old Time with Dave Hennessy and Matt Cranitch — mostly traditional Irish tunes and songs brought us to a lot of festivals and folk clubs all over England, Scotland and Wales.

A tour in Japan with Seamus Creagh was fascinating. Again playing Irish music but taking in a lot of the culture.

The Lee Valley String Band featured in the Tønder Festival, Denmark, in 2001, sharing the stage with Emmylou Harris and Tim O’Brien among others.

Favourite TV programme?

I’m a very general TV viewer, don’t see a lot of it but might catch something while I’m sitting down eating dinner or something.

Favourite radio show?

Arena with Sean Rocks is very interesting, I make a point to listen to it. I also tune into The Purple Vespertine presented by Ellen Cranitch on Lyric. She plays a wonderful range of music and helps me wind down after a gig or session. If you wanted me to name the programmes I don’t or can’t listen to, I’d be here all day and only insulting people!

Your signature dish if cooking?

I cook every day — it’s what I do for therapy. No signature dish but I do a fish and pasta thing with leek and courgettes and crème fraîche and white wine of course!

Favourite restaurant?

I have no favourite restaurant. Whatever is handy when I am out on the road somewhere and most of the time they’re not that memorable. But I have been fed in Ballymaloe quite a few times as a guest of Rory Allen for some of his musical evenings and that’s always very enjoyable.

Last book you read?

In It For The Long run by Jim Rooney. His autobiography — very enjoyable. Jim is the producer of the two Lee Valley String Band albums and a great friend. He’d have been one of the founding fathers of the early folk revival scene in Boston in the ’60s and also wrote a book called Baby, Let Me Follow You Down with Dave Van Ronk documenting that whole period.

Best book you read?

I’d probably go way back to Once A Future King by T. H. White. I’ve always been fascinated by the King Arthur legend as opposed to reading the very difficult English of Le Morte Darthur by Malory.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

The debut EP by Hanora George / Martina Stafford, the singer in Boxcar Bertha. I’m looking forward to hearing the forthcoming album she’s currently recording.

Favourite song?

Depending on the day, there are so many songs in my head over the years and they’re all like special children in a way. It’s very hard to distinguish.

If I were to choose, just at the moment off the top of my head, a version of Barbara Allen that I learned from the singing of Jean Ritchie, who has a Cork connection as she, with Seamus Ennis, helped collect the songs of Elizabeth Cronin from Ballyvourney in the 1950s.

One person you would like to see in concert?

I would like to see John Prine still as I’ve never seen him in concert, though I did have the pleasure of singing with him in the Crane in Galway where he was the instigator of a surprise party for my friend, Jim Rooney.

Do you have a pet?

I do have a cat, or a cat has me, as is usually the case with cats.

Morning person or night owl?

I can be either. I’m generally good in the morning unless I’ve been a particularly bad owl the night before.

Your proudest moment?

A couple, if I may... when told by Tim O’Brien that he really liked my version of Ola Belle Reed’s High On A Mountain from Barking Mad, the first Four Men And A Dog album! And being complimented on my set by Martin Carthy when I played support to him and Dave Swarbrick at the Cork Folk Festival a few years back!

Spendthrift or saver?

I’m a saver. Someone once described me as frugal, pointing out that it was a compliment.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

Generally I’m happy with most things about where I live.

What makes you happy?

Waking up every morning at my age generally makes me happy.

How would you like to be remembered?

It would be nice just to be remembered I think, for something.

What else are you up to at the moment?

Apart from touring with Cathy and Jarlath, which is the main reason for this interview, I still play regular sessions with the Lee Valley String Band and am the resident sound engineer in Coughlans and sometimes gig with the aforementioned Hanora George / Martina Stafford.


Music Network presents Cathy Jordan, Jarlath Henderson & Mick Daly at Triskel Christchurch on Friday, September 29, as part of 2017 Cork Folk Festival.

Music Network’s Autumn 2017 season gets off to a high-spirited start with three of Ireland’s finest traditional singers and instrumentalists: Cathy Jordan, Jarlath Henderson and Cork’s own Mick Daly performing at the venue.

Cathy from Sligo performs voice, bodhrán, bones (Sligo), while Jarlath from Tyrone performs uilleann pipes, whistle, voice.

Mick Daly, from Cork, will perform guitar, 5-string banjo.

Prepare to be entranced as these inventive singers offer up some stunning new interpretations of well-worn songs, with stirring instrumental playing and more than a little theatrical energy thrown into the mix.

Tickets €20/€18 available on 021 4272022

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