Beathaisnéis

Born in Moneyglass, Co. Antrim.

Educated at Gortgill Primary School; St. MacNissi’s College, Garron Tower; Queen’s University Belfast (Celtic Languages and Literature); Gregorian University, Rome.

Taught Irish in St. Louis Grammar School, Ballymena and St. MacNissi’s College, Garron Tower. Also worked with Foras na Gaeilge, the body responsible for the promotion of Irish throughout Ireland.

Took to writing songs, both in Irish and English, in late 70’s and recorded his first album in 1982 (‘A Matter of Time’) on his own label ‘Aonar’ (Irish for ‘Solitary’).

Three times finalist in Eurosong – 1990/1991/1994.

My sincerest thanks to all the musicians and singers who played and sang on these songs: Paul
McNeilly, Clive Culbertson, Johnny Scott, Brendan Monaghan, Colm Sands, Adrian McPartland, Mary Duffin, Bernard Duffin, John Duffin Ann Marie Duffin, Susan Duffin, Fionnuala Mhic an tSaoir, Brendan McGarrity, Nicky Scott, Shaun Wallace, Paul Gardiner, Liam Bradley, Tony Phillips, Charlie Arkins, Frank Gallagher.

A special word of thanks to Michael Sayers for his support and generous assistance over the years.

Irish and Me
We had no Irish at home when I was growing up. There were, however, a couple of next-door
neighbours who spoke Irish – Gerard Carolan and his brother Tom, R.I.P. – and they would use a couple of words in Irish, particularly when my two sisters started learning Irish at second level. There were also a number of people in my native parish, Moneyglass (Co Antrim), who spoke Irish.

When I finished with primary school I was sent to St. Mac Nissi’s College, Garron Tower (Co. Antrim). Irish was not on the syllabus in first year – we had a choice of Irish or Greek in second year. My parish priest of the time – Canon John McMullan R.I.P – urged me to study Greek, being a Classics scholar himself.

So, my mind was made up, or so I thought. The first day of the new year we were all assembled in Fr. Brian Brady’s room – an out-and-out Gaeilgeoir. “Those who want to do Greek, take your bags and leave now,” or something to that effect, were his words – but his message was a clear: “Get out of my sight.”

So, I gathered up my bag along with the other lads and headed down Greek avenue. Down the stairs and up the corridor to the Greek room.

But something happened halfway up the corridor. I turned on my heel, climbed the stairs again and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

That second was a defining moment in my life and one for which I am eternally grateful. I don’t know what lay before me if I had chosen Greek – another me never to be begotten because of a decision I cannot fathom – but I wouldn’t exchange the rich and beautiful life that Irish has bestowed on me.