Wednesday 23 August 2017

Nobody should be sleeping on the street

Niamh Farrell of Irish greats HamsandwicH talks to Barry Egan about anger, feminism, and performing at Rock Against Homelessness

Sharp focus: Niamh Farrell of HamsandwicH. Photo: David Conachy. Shot at 37 on Dawson Street. Hair by Debbie and make-up by Cara of Brown Sugar, brownsugar.ie. Dress, €145 by OM Diva Design, in Om Diva, omdivaboutique.com
Sharp focus: Niamh Farrell of HamsandwicH. Photo: David Conachy. Shot at 37 on Dawson Street. Hair by Debbie and make-up by Cara of Brown Sugar, brownsugar.ie. Dress, €145 by OM Diva Design, in Om Diva, omdivaboutique.com

A hypothetical, even ridiculous, question. Would the incomparable Niamh Farrell have one night of so-called passion with Donald Trump if, by so doing, the act ensured global peace? "Would you?" comes the reply. What if as well as world peace I threw in a global number 1 album for her band HamsandwicH? "If I could give him a solid slap across the face for world peace, I wouldn't say no to that!"

What if he enjoyed it? "That would be up to him!" she laughs. "But at least there would be world peace and that would probably hurt him more than the slap across the face!" An end to international conflict notwithstanding, Niamh is doing her utmost to help begin to stop the shocking homeless crisis in this country.

On April 7, her brilliant band HamsandwicH will perform at Independent News & Media's Rock Against Homelessness in aid of Focus at Dublin's Olympia Theatre - along with Al Porter and Katherine Lynch, The Blizzards, Delorentos, Finbar Furey, Paul Cleary of The Blades, August Wells, Danny Bracken accompanied by Paul Brady and Dave Fleming, Ivy Nations and some very special guests on the night (including one big international act who will be announced on March 26).

"It's such a pleasure to be involved again," says Niamh, who played Rock Against Homelessness in aid of Focus last year. "It's great to be able to help raise money for Focus Ireland by lending my voice. Homelessness is a huge issue in Ireland at the minute. Families living in one room in a hotel, in their car, on the streets. Nobody should be sleeping cold on the street, regardless of their situation. Focus Ireland does such amazing work in making sure people who are homeless are not forgotten about and the money raised from this gig will help so many people."

What makes her most angry about Ireland? "I'm a huge advocate of the Repeal the 8th campaign. Women need to have a choice. We have all seen the huge numbers at the marches and protests that have been taking place - the government needs to give the people of Ireland a vote on the matter.

How did International Women's Day last Wednesday make Niamh Farrell - one of the great female icons of Irish popular culture - feel?

"There was a lovely feeling of solidarity on women's day, and it's very uplifting! We all have wonderful women in our life and it's great to have a day to just thank those women for being there and being awesome. There's so much injustice towards women all over the world and it's a day where we can all take a step back and look at ourselves and the world around us and how we can all make a difference if we get together and try."

Does she think Ireland is any less of a misogynistic country than it appeared a few years ago? "I think it definitely is less anti-women. Ireland has really progressed as a country in the past few years; the Marriage Equality vote being one of the biggest turning points I think. We still have a long way to go, though, and I feel to look to the future we also need to look at what happened to the women of Ireland in the past and we need to acknowledge it to move forward," says the enigmatic superstar.

She adds that HamsandwicH have started writing the follow up to their sublime Stories from the Surface album. "It's great hearing new ideas and getting back into the writing process again. We'll also be doing festivals here over the summer and going over to the UK for gigs!"

Rock Against Homelessness in aid of Focus at the Olympia on April 7. Tickets from €30, including booking fee, on sale now via Ticketmaster.ie, at usual Ticketmaster outlets, including The Olympia Theatre Box Office, and by calling Ticketmaster on 0818 719 330.

Sunday Independent

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