Tuesday 20 February 2018

Eoin lost his heart to a Galway girl

Eoin Coughlan makes Elaine Cormican laugh, apart from when she's left cleaning the kitchen after him

Eoin Coughlan and Elaine Cormican are performing in Pulses of Tradition together. Photo: David Conachy
Eoin Coughlan and Elaine Cormican are performing in Pulses of Tradition together. Photo: David Conachy
Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

Elaine Cormican and Eoin Coughlan got married six years ago in Castleconnell, Limerick. It was hardly surprising their wedding turned into a three-day music festival, considering friends like Paddy Casey, Damien Dempsey and Nomos were present. "It was fantastic, as we were just moving from one pub to another," recalls Eoin, 41. "Paddy was pulled into a pub by a group of women who wanted him to play, and the place was hopping with music everywhere."

Eoin and Elaine met in 2003, when she was working at The Ark children's cultural centre and was involved in putting on concerts in children's hospitals. Eoin was recommended by Caroline Wynne of Artscope, and Elaine was really impressed with how good he was with the children, making the shyest little patients laugh.

They went for a drink afterwards with musician Brian Morrissey, who left early, leaving Eoin and Elaine to their own devices. They had a great chat and went for a burger in Supermac's. "I was intrigued," says Elaine, 39. "I found Eoin really interesting, and of course he's cute. He had longer hair when I met him and there was a lot of denim going on, but I fancied the overall package."

Eoin reckons Caroline knew exactly what she was doing when she told him he'd enjoy that particular gig. "When I saw this stunning-looking lady with the personality to go with it, I was thanking Caroline as she had struck gold," he laughs. "Elaine was open, smiley and had a wonderful, infectious personality."

Eoin was living in Cork and Elaine in Dublin, so he posted her a copy of the book, The Life of Pi, which they had discussed that evening. When she saw it, inscribed with the message, "Le gra, Eoin,' she was moved by his thoughtfulness. She accepted his invitation to visit Cork, and had a great time, enjoying the company, music scene and also the great meals he was making. Shortly afterwards, they both moved to Limerick as Elaine was embarking on a masters in traditional music performance at University of Limerick, and Eoin got a position as musician-in-residence in the county.

Eoin, the youngest of four, spent his first 12 years in Roscrea, and then his teacher parents, Michael and Maire, moved the family to Bishopstown in Cork. His twin loves were playing hurling and music. Eoin moved to Dublin straight after school with the aim of becoming a full-time singer-songwriter, and lived with Paddy Casey for a few years. At the age of 19 he was invited to join Nomos and stayed with them for four years. He also brought out an album, Blood in Vein, in 2007, and has enjoyed a very colourful music career.

As part of that, Eoin did a lot of music workshops in prisons, which led to him completing a PhD in drug and alcohol treatment. He's currently with Cloyne Diocesan Youth Services, and works very closely with the southern regional drugs taskforce.

Elaine, 39, is from Cappataggle in Galway, and comes in the middle of Christy and Nuala's five children. She learned to play the tin whistle, flute, piano, button accordion and guitar, and after her Leaving Cert, she moved to Dublin to do primary school teaching with music at St Patrick's. She taught for a few years, and then went to work at The Ark, completed the masters, and formed a band, Liadan, with five other girls and they toured all over the world.

Elaine is now teaching at Gaelscoil Ui Riordain, Ballincollig, and brought out an album, Cluain Amhrán/Meadow of Song, which was produced by Eoin. They are also both performing at the hit show, Pulses of Tradition, which is running at Triskel Arts Centre, Cork. and has received rave reviews. Created and produced by Brian Morrissey - yes, that gooseberry from their first "date - the live stage performance is a tasting plate of Irish traditional culture, featuring talented musicians, Irish dancers and singers. The stellar cast has genuine trad credentials and includes a six-piece trad supergroup and All-Ireland champions. The show was very well-received when it toured in France, Scotland and China, and it embraces the traditions of the past as well as celebrating the contemporary side of tradition.

"This is its fourth year and we get so excited for it every year," says Elaine. "Tourists love it but so do Irish people, as there's so much banter between all the lads on stage. I sing, play the flute and do some introductions, and Eoin sings and plays guitar and bodhran.

Eoin and Elaine moved to Ballinora outside Cork city last year, and feel very lucky with what they have. Eoin still cooks and makes Elaine laugh every day, although she's the one who does the washing-up after he has unveiled his latest culinary masterpiece. "He uses every pot possible and it's like a bomb has exploded in the place," she groans..

Elaine say that Eoin lights up people's lives with his humour, although he laments that she doesn't indulge him if he's feeling under the weather, even if he has a dose of the dreaded man-flu.

"The leg could be hanging off you and you wouldn't get any sympathy," he complains. "Elaine and I are so close, plus there's a bond between two people who play music together. We feel privileged to have this extra love for each other."

Pulses of Tradition continues at Triskel Arts Centre, Cork, on July 28, 29, August 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, and September 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 22, 23. Tickets €15/€13 from www.triskelartscentre.ie or 021 4272022.

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