| 10.4°C Dublin

Close

Premium

'Scorn not his Simplicity': Phil Coulter reveals the heartbreak, anger and fear behind the song

In this exclusive extract, the songwriter tells the poignant story of his son Paul, and the inspiring lyrics behind his famous song that Luke Kelly made his own

Close

Luke Kelly in 1977

Luke Kelly in 1977

Phil Coulter

Phil Coulter

/

Luke Kelly in 1977

When we discovered in 1965 that Angela was pregnant again, we were delighted. This time it would be different. This time we could share the news. This time around it was all legit. We were married. We could tell everyone we'd ever met of our delight in expecting another baby.

In the winter of that year a baby boy was delivered in St Andrew's Hospital, north London, to great rejoicing. We decided that we'd call him Paul. There was one minor bit of business that had to be taken care of immediately. We didn't have friends or family in London who could look after baby number one, Siobhan, and we certainly couldn't afford to pay a minder, so I flew back to Derry, deposited the baby with Angela's mum, and early the next morning I flew back to London and went straight to the hospital.

I immediately felt that something was not right. The sister in charge told me that the paediatrician wanted to see me when he'd finished his rounds. When I went into the ward, the baby was asleep in the cot and Angela was strangely quiet. More than just exhausted from the birth, she seemed distracted, as if she sensed something was wrong. I shall never forget the conversation with the paediatrician. He was a plump and pompous little man with a bow-tie and an upper-class attitude. He asked me my age and seemed very unimpressed that this was already my second child. Then he launched into a speech about how people have different gifts and how the important thing was to make the most of the situation, whatever that may be. Eyeing me, a Paddy from Cricklewood, as if I'd just come off a building site, he went on to say that, "For example, not everyone can go to university, but one can still lead a full life". Where was he going with this, I wondered.


Most Watched





Privacy