Lisa O'Neill started writing songs and music at an early age in her native Ballyhaise, Co Cavan. She moved to Dublin, aged 18, to study music on a full-time basis. Early on she was welcomed into the folk and traditional scene in pubs and venues around the city where her singular voice, witty lyrics and observations on modern Irish life gained her popularity and set her apart as a unique talent. She released her debut album Has An Album in 2009 to much acclaim. She has steadily built a reputation for herself on the Irish and international folk scenes. She takes part in Imagining Ireland tonight in the National Concert Hall. nch.ie
Maudie tells the story of the life of Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis. Physically she was restricted with arthritis but was treated as if she was mentally challenged which was not the case. She lived with her husband Everett in their 12ft by 12ft wooden shack in rural Nova Scotia. Almost every corner of the small wooden house served as a canvas for Maud's paintings. The film is simple but hard- hitting and was directed by Aisling Walsh.
Artist: Mary Keane
Mary Keane, alias Cormorant Tree Oh, is a multi-disciplinary artist and musician from Dublin. She interweaves the sonic with the visual to create a distinct world. She released her first self-titled album alongside a series of illustrations and video earlier this year. I've been following her work since 2001.
Book: The Tailor and Ansty
The Tailor and Ansty by Eric Cross was banned by the Irish censorship of publications board in 1942 for being morally indecent. I've been researching the West Cork couple about whom the book is written, the tailor (Timothy Buckley) and his wife Ansty (nee McCarthy). I liked these uncompromising characters immediately. I feel like they are old Ireland looking into new Ireland, but new Ireland is not looking back. The politics that surround this book is a story in itself.
I discovered these documentaries last year. Recorded for RTE in the 1970s in Ireland, each episode visits various craftspeople across the country. From Currach makers in Kerry to coopers in Cavan. These are rare insights into their work and rhythm, and are calming to watch.
Music: Steel Away
A piece of music which fascinates me and leads me into dreamland is a piece called Steel Away from the 1960's talk box and steel guitar player Pete Drake. It's the most beautiful unearthly sound I've heard come out of a man!