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Folk star Furey's new beginning

Finbar Furey loves it when his fans get into the spirit of things. "But jaysus, sing in key will yas?" he pleads. The 67-year-old Dubliner hadn't planned on talking much (he hates concerts, and admits to being more of a "sessions" man).

Tonight, however, is different. Last year, Furey scored his first number one single since 1987. It's no surprise then, that he's still in celebratory mode – and you'd be hard pressed to shut him up. Not that you'd want to.

In between mesmerising snapshots of Irish folk and trad, Furey recounts tales of whiskey-stops with the Clancy Brothers, and eagle-watching with Ronnie Drew. He also spins a brilliant yarn about the time Martin Scorsese called to offer him a part in Gangs of New York. And he fondly remembers his father, Ted Furey's stories. By the time Finbar gets around to performing The Old Man (written by Phil Coulter for the late Ted), you fear at least half the place will break down in tears.

He's no show-off. The chap will drop names and remind us of his travels as part of The Fureys. At this stage of his career, he's entitled to. But when it comes to the songs, he's about as delicate and as dedicated an artist as you'd expect from a performer of his years. After Sunday Mass recalls a time when news didn't come from a handheld gadget; The Lonesome Boatman showcases Furey's exceptional skills as a flautist. Of course, the Uillean pipes eventually make an appearance.


Surrounded by a trio of players, Furey keeps good company. He always did. But he's just as, if not more, effective as a solo man. Some call out their requests – he chuckles and tells us to have patience (he'll get to When You Were Sweet Sixteen at some point, lads). The vocal is rougher and raspier, but it brings more character to Furey's spellbinding repertoire.

Again, 2013 will be remembered as the year Finbar Furey won a televised talent show (RTE's The Hit), topping the singles charts in the process. Tonight, he dedicates the winning number, The Last Great Love Song, to songwriter Gerry Fleming's mother, who passed away this week. It's a touching moment. Furey follows it up by leading a sing-song on The Green Fields of France. This is a new beginning for a man who probably thought he'd done everything. And he deserves it. HHHHI