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'I was accused of turning my back on my own people...'​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Musician Paul Brady talks to Donal Lynch about his old teacher John Hume, being an outsider in the North, and Beirut

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GUITAR PICKER: Paul Brady with a few of his favourite instruments in his home recording studio near Stepaside. Photo: Frank McGrath

GUITAR PICKER: Paul Brady with a few of his favourite instruments in his home recording studio near Stepaside. Photo: Frank McGrath

GUITAR PICKER: Paul Brady with a few of his favourite instruments in his home recording studio near Stepaside. Photo: Frank McGrath

"They say the skies of Lebanon are burning, Those mighty Cedars bleeding in the heat. They're showing pictures on the television, Women and children dying in the street."

Across time and space, Paul Brady's gorgeous ballad, The Island, seemed like the soundtrack to a sorrowful week. It was the melancholic score to images of Beirut, once again in ruins. And, as John Hume was laid to rest, it was also our most powerful musical reminder of the futility of the Troubles.

As a schoolboy, Brady was taught French - the other language of Lebanon - by Hume, and he once presented Hume with the handwritten lyrics to the song. The "twisted wreckage down on main street" and "witch doctors praying for a mighty showdown" were indelible snapshots from an era out of which Hume helped to lead the country. "He loved the song," Brady recalls. "He told me that he felt it captured the mood of the time."