Strong coffee, sunshine and singing.... that's what makes me happy

We catch up with singer-songwriter Molly O’Mahony, of art-folk band, Mongoose, who has just struck out alone and released her first single, in our Person to Person
Strong coffee, sunshine and singing.... that's what makes me happy

Singer Molly O'Mahony. Picture: Kate Bean

TELL us about yourself;

I’m Molly O’Mahony, singer-songwriter. I’ve played with art-folk band Mongoose for the past decade and have just struck out alone with my first single as me, myself and I. It’s called Remember To Be Brave and it’s a tribute to inner-strength and kindness.

Where were you born?

The Rotunda Hospital, Dublin town.

Where do you live?

Ballydehob, West Cork.

Family?

I’m the eldest of five, I’ve three brothers and a sister. They’re all wonderful, I’m dead lucky.

Molly O'Mahony. Picture: Kate Bean
Molly O'Mahony. Picture: Kate Bean

Best friend?

I’ve two main rocks — Ailbhe, my bass player and long-standing bandmate from Mongoose, and Shóna, my college friend and West Cork neighbour (she’s from Skibbereen).

Earliest childhood memory?

Asking my mum to examine my shoulder blades at night-time when I was about four, to check if my wings were growing yet.

Person you most admire?

Musically? Joni Mitchell, without a doubt.

Person who most irritates you?

Anyone who reflects my own flaws and bad habits back at me!

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

Holly Cairns TD, she has the vision and integrity to spend the country’s money well.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

I’ve had a lot of great ones, but in recent years, walking a section of the Northern Camino in Spain takes the biscuit. I just loved the freedom of having everything I needed on my back and only my two legs to get me from place to place. I felt close to things. It was the most authentic experience of a place and a culture I’ve had outside my own to date.

Favourite TV programme?

Fleabag and Transparent are the two best things I’ve seen on television ever, I think.

Favourite radio show?

I’ve an early commute at the moment and so I find myself listening to a lot of Marty In The Morning. I’ve grown to depend on his jolly, indistinct patter and soothing classical offerings to regulate me for the day. It’s a bad start if I miss my dose of Marty.

Your signature dish if cooking?

I have quite a fraught relationship with cooking. I prefer the eating to the making and can go long swathes of time with having little interest in making anything besides toast. From time to time, I get a notion though. I make a decent green curry.

Favourite restaurant?

I actually can’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant…It was probably before I moved back to Cork, pre-pandemic. Aobaba noodle bar on Capel Street in Dublin used to be my haunt; delicious, wholesome, cheap Vietnamese food. Mmm.

Last book you read?

Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, Carrie Brownstein’s biography. I love her.

Best book you read?

Faves of all time —- God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and Shipping News by Annie Proulx.

Molly O'Mahony. Picture: Kate Bean
Molly O'Mahony. Picture: Kate Bean

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Bonny Light Horseman by Bonny Light Horseman. Got completely obsessed with that album and Anais Mitchell over the past months.

Favourite song?

A Case Of You, Joni Mitchell. It’s just perfect.

One person you would like to see in concert?

Anais Mitchell or Sleater Kinney.

Do you have a pet?

Several. Four dogs, two cats, five chickens.

Morning person or night owl?

For most of my life to date, a night owl for sure. But I’m in the swing of awaking early these days and actually I love mornings. You can’t beat that freshness and the quivering potential in the air.

Your proudest moment?

Passing my driving test aged 22 — I’d failed it a couple of times and had just resigned myself to the harsh fact that it was obviously a normal human thing I would never be able to do, and then I did it! I couldn’t believe it.

Spendthrift or saver?

Saver. I’m rarely making any money but when I am, I’m good at putting it away. A life of putting music over sensible jobs will give you that skill.

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

More public walkways. It frustrates so much that you can’t walk places in this beautiful country of ours; that so often rivers and shorelines aren’t accessible to walk to or along. Cycle infrastructure also, we could do with more of that.

What makes you happy?

Strong coffee, sunshine and singing. Acting the fool with my nearest and dearest also.

How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who moved through life with integrity, who was good and useful in the world, and who sang their heart out.

What else are you up to at the moment?

I’m working in the art department for an independent feature film that’s being shot around West Cork currently. It’s called Sparrow, look out for it. I think it’s going to be good.

More about Molly

Molly O’Mahony released her debut single as a solo artist, Remember To Be Brave, this month.

She has spent the past decade writing and performing with art-folk group Mongoose, who have been a fixture of the Irish music scene since their formation in 2012. The band have released two albums and two EPS in that time and have shared stages with the likes of Glen Hansard, Mary Coughlan and Eddi Reader.

Over the course of 2018 and 2019, Mongoose collaborated in making and performing in Woman Undone, the theatrical retelling of singer Mary Coughlan’s life, which culminated in a joint Irish Times theatre award nomination for the band with Coughlan and composer Valgeir Sigurdson for ‘Best Sound’ in 2019.

As a teenager living in Ballydehob, Molly performed as one half of a jazz duo with local guitarist Norman Collins. They played a regular spot at Ballydehob Jazz Festival for consecutive years. After winning a local singing competition, the pair used the prize of studio time to record an album together entitled Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars, a collection of blues and bossa nova standards, when Molly was just 17.

Molly returned to her family home in West Cork in March of last year, along with her four siblings.

She penned the song Remember To Be Brave against the backdrop of the unfolding pandemic. It is the first release from an album she’s due to record this summer.

Remember To Be Brave, the debut single by Molly O’Mahony, is out now on all digital platforms.

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