Wednesday 25 April 2018

Sting hails his roots as debut musical 'The Last Ship' sets course for Ireland

From left, actor Jimmy Nail, who stars in ‘The Last Ship’, Sting, and the production’s director, Lorne Campbell. Picture: Mark Savage
From left, actor Jimmy Nail, who stars in ‘The Last Ship’, Sting, and the production’s director, Lorne Campbell. Picture: Mark Savage
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

Singer Sting has spoken about his tragic Irish heritage that saw his maternal ancestor being thrown in a poorhouse in Co Monaghan, where she eventually died.

The 66-year-old musical icon said that his Irish background has had an influence on his debut musical 'The Last Ship', which comes to Ireland in June.

Two years ago, he paid a private visit to the site of a former workhouse in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, after delving into the history of his great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Murphy.

She eventually died in the workhouse, aged 68, in 1881, and he visited one of three mass graves at the site, which he said was an experience wrought with emotion. "I knew we were Irish and that was quite an emotional journey for me," he told the Irish Independent.

"I went to the poor house in Monaghan, where you were punished for being poor, somehow God is punishing you (for being poor). It was bizarre to me. They were like concentration camps. One of her sons escaped to the north-east of England, so here we are."

He said that he's "very fond of Ireland" and once lived in one of the country's most scenic beauty spots, Clifden, in Co Galway.

The Newcastle native, whose real name is Gordon Sumner, has once again gone back to his roots when it comes to his professional life, having penned the music and lyrics for 'The Last Ship'.

Inspired by his 1991 album 'The Soul Cages' and his childhood growing up during the ship-building era in Newcastle, the 16-time Grammy winner said there are definite traces of Irish folk music in the score.

"Of course there is, because, in the industrial revolution, there was massive Irish and Scots emigration here so I was brought up in essentially an Irish community. It's mainly folk music, so you guys can take some credit for that," he said.

The musical, starring Jimmy Nail and directed by Lorne Campbell, first ran in the US in 2014 but has been re-worked for its UK and Irish run.

It will debut in Newcastle in March, before coming to Dublin's Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from June 4 to 9, with Sting promising to attend the opening night. Tickets go on sale this Friday.

Irish Independent

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