Singing Lessons Are More Than Worth It

singing lessons

One of the greatest of the simple pleasures in life is singing, and here in Ireland we have a long and great tradition of the ‘session’. 

A cultural phenomenon where local people aggregate in a pub, house or local hall to enjoy music and fun together.

The session serves many functions with the main one being the enjoyment of performing and listening to music.

But what happens if you don’t know how to play an instrument or sing? Or what if you have just started to learn but you have no confidence to do it in public? Well session to the rescue! 

One function of the session is to provide a space for people who are not very good at singing and playing to get used to doing it in public and practicing.

So in an interesting and fun way the session is  a practice session as well as a public performance.  

Depending on who is running the session and how serious the players are, the session will provide a greater or more limited opportunity for those on the learning journey to get involved.

Some sessions will be much more serious than others and if the players are being paid then there may be no opportunity for learners to get involved at all.

So if you live in an area that doesn’t have a welcoming session what then? The answer might be singing lessons. The joy of singing is truly one of the most wonderful pleasures we can engage in.

And if someone is really great at singing then there can be a lot of wonderful compliments that come from singing as well. Which is just fantastic if you’re the one who is doing the singing and getting all of the positive attention. 

So you might be living in Ireland and be looking for some really great singing lessons Belfast and if you are then the advice is to go for it. While it might take a little time and effort, and you might be very nervous about eventually performing in public it will still be more than worth it to give it a go. 

After all life is never as long as we might want it to be and regrets are never something we like thinking about as we lie in bed trying to welcome sleep. 

Even though I myself have had a few moments when I publicly made mistakes in my singing and playing there is no doubt that the times I have performed for people in public have enriched my life tremendously. 

Likewise watching family members perform in public, no matter the quality of the performance, has always been enjoyable and has given me some memories that I will never forget and always cherish, till the end of my days.  

So if you are considering entering the world of public performance then take my advice and get doing it. The sooner the better because you can start making those memories with family and friends now, rather than later. Your life will be richer and more fulfilled for the experience. Trust me, I’ve done it and so can you!

‘Grandad’ by Robert Service

Marty Bogroll

Heaven’s right ‘n sweet, I guess

In no rush to get there

Been a sinner, more or less

Maybe won’t fit in there.

Wicked still, gotta confess

Might just pine a bit there!

Heaven’s swell, preacher says

But got so used to earth here

Had such good times all the way

Frolic, fun and mirth here.

Eighty springs ago today

Since I had my birth here.

Quite a spell of happy years

Wish I could begin it

Cloud and sunshine, laughter, tears

Living every minute

Women too, the pretty dears

Plenty of ‘em in it.

Heaven! That’s another tale

Mightn’t let me chew there

Gotta have me pint of ale

Would I like the brew there?

Maybe I’d grow slack and stale

No more chores to do there.

Here I weed the garden plot

Scare the birds from pillage

Simmer in the sun a lot

Talk about the tillage.

Yarns of battles I have fought

Greybeard of the village.

Heaven’s mighty fine, I know

Still, it ain’t so bad here

See them maples all aglow

Starlings seem so glad here.

I’ll be mighty peeved to go

Scrumptious times I’ve had here.

Lord, I know You’ll understand

With Your Light You’ll lead me

Though I’m not the pious brand

I’m here when’er You need me

Gee! I know that heaven’s grand

But darn it! God, don’t speed me.

Fiddlers Green 2019


First, the bad news. Not for love nor money will you get tickets for the highlight, CLANNAD, fronted by Moya Brennan, next Friday night. I was really looking forward to this concert, but I too was slow (all tickets went on the internet and were snatched up like hot buns.)

Tickets for all other events (at least, as I write) are available. We booked only one Concert, Zodomo, next Saturday. Zoe Conway, Donal Lunny and Martin O’Connor. What a line-up. I can’t wait. We will attend other concerts, but will go as it suits. There are many alternatives, if any of these end up booked out.

We will go to Setting the Scene at Fiddlers Green (Sun 21 July at 12.00) and take the grandchildren – and a picnic – as always. The same evening we return to attend 10X9, where nine people have each ten minutes to recount a true story from their lives. [An Cuin]. Always a highlight for us six! Then a pint in INF (with a session) before we return home.

Monday, it’s Sionan Murphy at the Lunchtime Folk Club, followed by Ceili House with my mate Alfie Corr (that’s him on the banjo). That night the Corner House Clan are in the GAA Members Bar. If any energy remains, we will return for that.

That’s enough for now. We have to save some energy for the other seven drunken nights! Tell you later.

Glenanne Killers

  • My song for you this evening, it’s not to make you sad
    Nor for adding to the sorrows of this troubled northern land,
    But lately I’ve been thinking and it just won’t leave my mind
    I’ll tell you of two friends one time who were both good friends of mine.

    Allan Bell from Benagh, he lived just across the fields,
    A great man for the music and the dancing and the reels.
    O’Malley came from South Armagh to court young Alice fair,
    And we’d often meet on the Ryan Road and the laughter filled the air.

    There were roses, roses, there were roses, and the tears of the people ran together.

    Though Allan, he was Protestant, and Sean was Catholic born,
    It never made a difference for the friendship,  it was strong.
    And sometimes in the evening when we heard the sound of drums
    We’d  say, “It won’t divide us. We always will be one.”

    For the ground our fathers plowed in, the soil, it is the same,
    And the places where we say our prayers have just got different names.
    We talked about the friends who died, and we hoped there’d be no more.
    It’s little then we realized the tragedy in store.

    It was on a Sunday morning when the awful news came round.
    Another killing has been done just outside Newry Town.
    We knew that Allan danced up there, we knew he liked the band.
    When we heard that he was dead we just could not understand.

    We gathered at the graveside on that cold and rainy day,
    And the minster he closed his eyes and prayed for no revenge.
    All of us who knew him from along the Ryan Road,
    We bowed our heads and said a prayer for the resting of his soul.

    Now fear, it filled the countryside, there was fear in every home
    When a car of death came prowling round the lonely Ryan Road.
    A Catholic would be killed tonight to even up the score.
    “Oh, Christ! It’s young O’Malley that they’ve taken from the door.”

    “Allan was my friend,” he cried. He begged them with his fear,
    But centuries of hatred have ears that cannot hear.
    An eye for an eye was all that filled their mind 
  • And another eye for another eye till everyone is blind.

    So my song for you this evening, it’s not to make you sad
    Nor for adding to the sorrows of our troubled northern land,
    But lately I’ve been thinking and it just won’t leave my mind.
    I’ll tell you of two friends one time who were both good friends of mine.

    I don’t know where the moral is or where this song should end,
    But I wondered just how many wars are fought between good friends.
    And those who give the orders are not the ones to die.
    It’s Bell and O’Malley and the likes of you and I. ..
  • There were roses, roses, there were roses, and the tears of the people ran together.

This poignant Sands’ song has become a perennial favourite – with many hearers accepting the simplicity of the equation. Simple – and true in some respects, it fails to tell the whole story.  Indeed that may never be told – as evidenced by the duplicity and evasion of both candidates for next Prime Minister of the UK, over their obsession with absolving their ‘security forces’ of all wrongdoing during our Troubles. 

But for the efforts of pioneering researchers, we’d never know the truth.  All efforts are made to suppress the work of such people, especially in the UK and the occupied counties. 

Therefore I urge you to watch Unquiet Graves to be screened on RTE1 on Monday week 29 July at 9.35 pm. 

This ‘correction’ is posted at 22.50 on July 29 2019. Tonight’s programme “Unquiet Graves” has been postponed for ‘technical’ reasons. I suspect political reasons. If you are determined to see it, you can, at a cost of £3.50 view it via the following link. Good luck!

Director Sean Murray’s documentary of the story of the Glenanne Gang is a must-see.

More than 120 of our friends and neighbours in Armagh and Tyrone were brutally slaughtered by this combination of RUC and UDR men, British soldiers and loyalist paramilitaries.  Among newly aired allegations is one that British intelligence tried to get the UVF to attack a Catholic Primary School in Co Armagh, in supposed retaliation for the Kingsmills massacre.

The airing of this documentary will not result in closure, but it is a step on the way.

Boris will see it as the hounding of ‘our selfless heroes’.

The Newry Highwayman


The Newry Highwayman

In Newry Town I was bred and born
In Steven’s Green now I’ll lie in scorn
I served my time at the saddler’s trade
And I always was a roving blade

At seventeen I took a wife
And I loved her dearer than I loved my life
And for to keep her both fine and gay
I went a-robbing on the King’s highway

I’ve never robbed any poor man yet
Nor any tradesman caused I to fret
But I robbed Lords and their Ladies fine
And I carried their gold home to my heart’s delight

To Covent Garden I took my way
With my dear wife for to see the play
Lord Fielding’s men, they did me pursue
And taken was I by that cursed crew

My father cried “My darling son”
My wife, she cried “I am undone”
My mother tore her white locks and cried
That in the cradle I should have died

When I am dead, aye, and for my grave
A flashy funeral pray let me have
Six highwaymen for to carry me
Give them broadswords and sweet liberty

Six pretty fair maids to bear my pall
Give them white ribbons and green garlands all
When I am dead, they  may speak the truth
“He was a wild and a wicked youth”

In Newry Town I was bred and born
In Steven’s Green now I’ll lie in scorn
I served my time at the saddler’s trade
And I always was a roving blade.

50 years ago: PD March


Civil Rights Movement

One knows one is ageing fast when yesterday’s happenings are surreal, like a dream, quickly forgotten, yet events of 50 years ago shine brightly in one’s memory.

Today’s Irish News, ON THIS DAY column, recounts the events surrounding a Peoples Democracy protest in Armagh City on July 11 1969.  Despite the detail below, I remember it for two reasons :

 1. This was my first direct confrontation with the extremism and bitterness of loyalism, led of course by the great Satan himself, Ian Paisley – and I was shocked and very scared, knowing that these counter-demonstrators would like nothing better than to attack and severely injure – if not kill – us, for demanding One Man One Vote and equal rights and treatment.  There was no doubt whatsoever that the police – RUC – were on their side and, but for the TV cameras, would also like such a result.

2.  One of our number, my school colleague and friend from Derrybeg Estate Newry, Gerry Ruddy, was accompanied by a young Queens student, Briege, from The Bone, Ardoyne, North Belfast, and the two were inseparable and very much in love.  As always, the human story was more meaningful to me. 

I am happy to report that they married soon after, reared a family and are together to this day.  Briege was a lovely girl, is a fine lady and occasionally makes the headlines this time of year, representing the interests of the much beleaguered residents of the Holy Land.  Anyway, the story from the newspaper follows …

Four members of Armagh Civil Rights Committee, including Senator Garry Lennon, leader of the Nationalist Party in the Senate, staged an all-night sit-in at Armagh City Hall.

This followed clashes in the streets between members of Peoples Democracy and the police.  About 200 PD supporters staged an impromptu march. 

When they reached the top of Scotch Street, which leads to a Protestant area (sic!) they were confronted by 30 policemen And three Land Rovers. 

Scuffles broke out and stones and bottles were thrown. 

Two PD members were reported to have been slightly injured.

Submitted poems : reflections


Of these three submitted poems, two (namely ‘McParland’s Elder’ and ‘McGinn’) are character based poetic fictionalisations of various characters in and around the town (McParland and McGinn being two distinctly local surnames). ‘McParland’s Elder’ is an ode to the elderly of the city whilst ‘McGinn’ is the story of a man observing his own wake and funeral (not very cheery, granted, but very Irish in it’s outlook nonetheless).

The other poem ‘Going to my Hometown’, is a sonnet written in dedication to the city and was inspired by many of the landmarks dotted around the place (namely, the old red-brick of the Hibernian Club on the Mall and the medieval church up on High St.)

Going to my Hometown

Parading a musty clop along the mall;

Redbrick and granite should glimmer in their boast.

Razing a glint in bier-garten toast,

I’m jealous – their sip, lip-locked – I’m enthralled.

The chivalrous sweat in musical droves,

Saluting the weather with world-weary wink.

The steeples, serene, without rain to drink:

A clan wry, a-flowing – a city of mauve.

Borderline bubble I love you so well.

I source you for boredom, ‘tis true, ‘tis true,

For dryness can seem here the hottest of hells

But I would be dead if ‘twas not for you –

A cynic. A liar. A lover. A son –

A soul wracked to bone mass from valley-sought glue.


Thespian legion of repute and rogue
Wherefore to season my home with your lease?
Cast without shadow and latent in vogue
Celestial yearnings burn without cease.

For human endeavour seems that of beast
When repertoire years are draping the squelch;
No requiem breast nor angel nor priest
In scant distillation can prove what I felt.

And though there were eve’nings in spite of myself,
Where lingered my spoils ‘pon high in the din,
I sired the void, alive and in health,
To slump down, a coward, and die with my sins.

“What friends, indeed, can be said of McGinn?”
Seized up from the swell then through shuffling slits.
‘twas one from my past, though not of my kin,
Who’d shamble my bygones in idler twist.

“Well, let my retort reveal to you this”
Responded my sibling, eye on my corpse,
“He was my brother and though he be missed,
They’ll ravage his ghost with sulphur and scorch;

They’ll send for his passions, singed like a torch,
Drink them to blackness and pluck him from thought.
Heathen of helix and harlequin sport,
Hath thou no inkling, the havoc you wrought?

A bold moment-muse of what we all sought?
Wanting our brother, or what for the word
Could heal you of stealing the years we had brought.
For all that was owed us: a man of the world.”

Only ‘twas then that time, stuck, unfurled
And eve’ning careered t’ward morning, t’ward fate.
When bones hold to dust by death, that old churl, 
My years be reduced to scripture and slate.

For I have been poisoned by seasons in wait –
Weights worth the farthings they stuck to my eyes;
Sliding through epochs that harboured the great
And mock the mere mortals of meaning deprived.

‘tis that, as I laboured ‘mong mirrors they hide,
Residing in pine with beads in their coil,
That creased up and burned my thoughts ‘fore the guide
Of sinner McGinn to a patch in the soil.

My screed reads no softer after such toil,
No smoother a tale to be taught at your teat.
That my soul had not descended to boil,
Nor had I with saints or skivvies to speak.

‘twas in my cortege ‘midst eyes without weep
And great sweeping haloes of droves in their drear
Where I’d come to shamble in rambling grief;
My infinite seal – a death without peer.

The chapel then, ceding in vaulted veneer,
Seemed placid, indiff’rent; a tomb without taste,
And I, of the asinine angular weird,
Sat nursing my years in debt and disgrace;

Though steadfast my legion not to make haste –
Not for the glibness nor gallons nor grime;
Nor e’en for wallowing Whitsuns of waste
Which, woven, made whimsical dust of my time.

No, friends! My kin were not even inclined
To whisper a shudder in lieu of myself;
Their benches, distended in line upon line
Had last term to conjuring sobs where they knelt.

And I, a poor reckoner, dumbfound and welt,
Who picked at his scars with bottle and beak,
Have culled from my friv’lous happ’nings health
And smile that my bygones weren’t utterly bleak.

The service, now ended, spilled out to the street;
The heat of the noon scald shapes and disrobe.
Of courage without, I slunk in the speak
And pictured my corpse garrulous and in globe.

With words said and skies pulled the hollow was lowed,
And dignified drops of a soil were dispensed,
And after the shapes had shuffled their shoad,
I stood for awhile to invite forth the hence.

I stood for a decade in sin recompense,
And pleaded with weathering debris and silt;
I stood for my penance, for death to commence,
Though condemned am I to be held by the hilt.

I cornered my prayers then, my flowers in wilt;
I threatened the heavens with nothing to stake –
But, reader, my anguish is always my guilt.
Is this script appendage enough for my sake?


Karen couldn’t quite believe her good fortune.  It had been her ambition since childhood to carve for herself a career in front of the TV cameras.  To that end she had taken elocution lessons, attended Drama School for three years, fared well academically and even acquired a few diplomas – some with commendation – along the way. 

Hundreds had applied for the advertised post of Assistant BBC TV Newsreader and only five had been shortlisted for interview.  And she was one! 

Why me? She wondered idly as she waited to be called.  Perhaps it was my qualifications, my experience, maybe they were impressed with the newsreading rehearsal video I sent, perhaps even my appearance.  She discretely withdrew a make-up mirror from her purse to examine her image. 

On the advice of her father, she had opted for an understated charcoal grey suit, with knee-length skirt, an open-necked white blouse, buttoned to the neck, and a ‘sensible’ pair of slip-on black (flat) shoes. 

Her father – a long-retired radio (yes.. just radio .. she’d go one better!) announcer, and her best friend, had tutored her on all aspects of the interview and prospective profession, though, she reflected carefully, things might just have changed a little since his day.


“I knew your father, way back in the day – when I first started!” confided the bespectacled grey suit (colour-matching her own !!) across the city desk from her.  He watched for her reaction.

‘He pulled strings!’ Karen thought, and was certain that her eyes betrayed her emotions.  She quickly recovered and smiled sweetly, nodding demurely.

“The bad old days!” the suit continued.  Again her eyes gave her away.

“Can you roll your R’s ?” he suddenly spurted.  Karen panicked.  As she covered her alarm with another demure smile, she asked herself: Did he just say R’s ?  Or .rs. ?

“Roland Rat rode rigorously round the ring road”, she enunciated in her best plummy Estuary Accent and elocution voice, emphasising each R as she rolled her tongue in the middle of her mouth, and shaped her lips in a perfect O. 

“No! No!  No!” he cried in clear dismay.  “I mean, like Naomi Campbell on the catwalk, or Rachel Riley on Countdown!

Rachel Riley

“And forget the fake so-called BBC newsreader accent.  That was back in the 1950-70s, in your father’s day.  Now you gotta sound like … well .. for example .. Steph McGovern!”

As she struggled to cover her dismay and alarm, he leaned discreetly forward and punched a button on the machine before him. 

A dreadful cacophony of noise erupted, splitting the room and piercing her ears.  A frenzied drummer was hammering out rolls and riffs, punctuated with crashing cymbals while the brass section – trumpets, sax, trombones and horn – was giving free vent to its collective musical creativity.

“Go ahead!” said the suit. “Read the news from the sheet in front of you. ABOVE the sound of the intro.  You’ll have to adopt a high-pitched falsetto tone – just to be heard above the musicians.” And he smiled.  He actually smiled.  He was enjoying this. 

“And for heaven’s sake, undo the top three buttons of that blouse, relax and give us some flash of cleavage!

And accent the words completely at random:  Breathe in all the wrong places:  If there’s a number in there, put heavy emphasis of the first syllable  (THOUS ..ands) to grab the audience’s attention.

We need a bit of interpretation in the news today!”  He paused.  “Have you got all that?”  He allowed one second for her reaction, which didn’t come in that short time.

“You’re only getting this interview as a favour to your father!  You appreciate that?”

That was it.  Karen could take no more and she burst out crying.  She hastily fetched a tissue from her purse to wipe away her tears.

The suit jumped to his feet, beaming, his eyes alight with excitement.

“That’s it!” he exclaimed.  “Exactly!  Our audience just LOVES to see emotional reaction like that!  By the way, was that natural or affected?”

Karen recovered.  “Which is better?”  she asked.

“Brilliant!” he roared.  “The perfect answer!

The job’s yours!”

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!