Is he pitch perfect? Leinster's Robbie Henshaw makes trad album with Sharon Shannon
Leinster and Ireland rugby star Robbie Henshaw has lined out for a team photo with a difference after joining his family for a special collaboration with traditional music star Sharon Shannon.
The 25-year-old centre, from Athlone, comes from a family steeped in traditional Irish music heritage and they joined forces with Shannon to record an album, The Secret Sessions, in aid of South Westmeath Hospice.
The hospice provides services and support to patients and families in the Westmeath and Roscommon areas.
"Music has been a huge part of my life since a very young age," said Henshaw.
"Sharon Shannon was a musician I always looked up to and it is really special to have the chance to play tunes with her on this album."
Sharon knew Ted Quinn, who had played in a band with Billy Henshaw, Robbie's granddad.
When Ted's wife Ann passed away a few years back, he and the Henshaw family wanted to make a CD to raise funds for the hospice that cared for Ann during her illness.
The album was recorded in a day at Bressie's Camden Studios in Dublin and will be available on iTunes and in record shops nationwide.
Speaking about her involvement with the album, Shannon said: "Ted Quinn and his family have been friends of mine for many years.
"Ted invited me to a session at a lovely country pub called The Three Jolly Pigeons outside Athlone early last year, and this was my first meeting with the Henshaw family.
"It was a great music session and seeing the whole family involved reminded me of growing up with my own family in a similar musical environment.
"I was delighted to be able to offer help. We rehearsed a few times in the summer during gaps in my touring and rest periods for Robbie between his Leinster and Ireland commitments.
"We eventually recorded the whole album in one day at Bressie's studio in Dublin. The Henshaws are all great musicians and it's been a privilege to be involved in such a good, fun project for such a worthy cause."
The Secret Sessions will be available from this Saturday.