How the healing powers of the Wild Atlantic Way saved Francie and inspired new album
When he was 16, Francie was involved in a car crash and was catapulted through the windscreen. "I was a passenger and stupidly wasn't wearing a seatbelt," he says. "I was hospitalised for weeks with glass cuts, and after I was discharged, I wanted to go swimming in the sea at Banna Strand, but my mum said it was too soon.
"I went in anyway and the pain of the salt on the wounds was awful, but I felt amazing afterwards and went in every day. I only have one small mark from the glass now, as the Atlantic got rid of the others."
Francie attributes being rarely ill to swimming in the Atlantic every year, and confesses he'd be afraid to face the winter without going in. When you look out from the water, nothing has changed much since our ancestors' time, he says. A couple of months ago, Francie became seriously ill and was hospitalised for two weeks. While he underwent a battery of tests, they didn't reveal what had attacked him. The mystery virus knocked him for six, but he instinctively knew what would help his healing.
"I got in the car, drove to Kerry and got in the sea," he says. "It was freezing, but when I came out, I knew that the illness was behind me and I'd soon be well again. And I'm feeling much better today!"
'The Wild Atlantic Way: A Journey in Irish Music is out this week.