Category Archives: BLOG

Hot Press Best Of Ireland

650 x 650 instagram Cover 2018Top model Thalia Heffernan stars on the cover of Hot Press Best Of Ireland, the ultimate guide to the faces, places, events, music, film and literature that make this island so special!

Inside, Thalia and her boyfriend Ryan McShane talk about falling for each other whilst working on Dancing With The Stars, the long distance love affair that’s ensued, and their favourite spots around the country.

In another highly revealing interview, RTÉ’s biggest star, Ryan Tubridy, opens up about family, friends, books, rural getaways and what he loves most about presenting the Late Late Show.

As part of our Irish Food Revolution special, we get tasty tips from leading chefs Andy McFadden, Rachel Allen, Jess Murphy and Neven Maguire; name Ireland’s Best 200 Restaurants and dish up 15 Great Irish Things To Eat.

“It really is a revolution,” reflects Best Of Ireland Editor Niall Stokes. “All over the country, farmers and food producers are doing amazing things – in many cases organic – with yoghurt, cheeses, butters, smoked fish, patés, breads, fruit, chocolate, meat, vegetables and herbs.”

Reflecting on the broader Irish cultural explosion, Niall adds: “There’s so much out there to see, experience and enjoy – and only one lifetime to do it in! Irish people want to immerse themselves in what is local and unique – to be wooed and surprised, all the better to get to know the intimate beauty of the wonderful island we have been lucky enough to find ourselves on.”

Along with Best Of Ireland’s insider tips and comprehensive lists of recommended bars, clubs, music venues, hotels, alternative stays, shops, attractions, sporting events and festivals, celebrities, TV stars, writers and musicians like Muireann O’Connell, James Kavanagh, Eleanor McEvoy, John Connolly and Luka Bloom are among those selecting their personal faves.

Add in our in-depth looks at the LGBTQ scene; a wonderful trip through musical Ireland with Luka Bloom; insider’s guides to Dublin, Limerick, Galway, Cork, Belfast and Kilkenny, and a look at the numerous famous islands off our coastlines, and you really can’t afford to be without the Best of Ireland!

Price €3.95

iMS Featured albums & EP’s 2017


featured Albums 2017

This is a list of all the artists whose albums or EP’s I have featured on the Irish Music Show during 2017. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. The downside of a weekly two hour show is that I cannot play all the albums I’d like to so I have to make that choice each week. Even from this list you can see the wealth of talent that exists  in Ireland


15th – Tommy Keyes– An Irish Life
22nd  – Barry McCormack – Tilt Of The Earth
29th – The Blades – Modernised


5th  – Our Krypton Son – Fleas & Diamonds
12th –  Switzerland – Long Gone
19th – Jonny Rep – Cold Sunbeam
26th – Joe Chester – Easter Vigil


5th – Amanda St. John – Grow
12th – Waldorf and Cannon – Old Dogs, New Tricks
19th – Key Regimes – Key Regimes EP
26th – Mountain Man Band – Killer Wails EP


9th April  – Marlene_Enright – Placemats and Second Cuts
16th – Ian Whitty – Cash Crop
23rd – Blackbird And Crow – Shock Shatter Convince
30th April  –  I Draw Slow – Turn Your Face To the Sun


7th – Great Balloon Race – Gently Gently
14th – King Bones -King Bones EP
21st – Micko Roche – Bleu
28th – Guilty Optics – Colossal Velocity


4th – Harvest Ministers – Back To Harbour
11th – Emma O’Reilly – Fractures EP
18th – Eamonn McCormack – ‘Like There’s No Tomorrow’
25th  – Screefy – Everything Is Connected


2nd – Che Horgan– When The Rivers Rise Again
16th- Michelle Walsh – Fire Away EP
23rd – Andrew Conroy – Sleep EP
30th – Ape Rising – Ape Rising
9th – Chirpy – Real Life EP


20th- The Needables – Deep Down at the Bottom of it All
27th – PictureHouse – How Can I Explain How This Came To Be


3rd  – Terry Conlon – Homegrown
10th – Crayon Set – Lost Languages
17th – Radiators – TV Tube Heart|
24th – Brookfield – Brookfield


1st – Niall Connolly– Dream Ur Way Out Of This One
8TH  – Ciara Sidine – Unbroken Line
15th – Emma Langford – Quiet Giant
22nd  –  Anna-Liese – Stand On My Own


5th – Shag Haired Villains – There Is A Noise
12th – Declan O’Rourke – Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine
26thGhost Accuser- Empty Orchestra


3rd – Dovile Lee – My Fairytale EP
17th – Ailie Blunnie – West To the Evening Sun











Inseek – ‘Hear Them Cry’

Australian Band INSEEk who sent me their material that , unfortunatly, I cannot include on the radio show but I still wanted people to hear.

Deep Sky Objects – Hope

Deep Sky Objects are a three-piece alternative-rock band based in Cork, Ireland. The band members include brothers Kevin O’Brien (lead vocals, guitar), Thomas O’Brien (drums and backing vocals) and DD Foley (bass guitar and backing vocals). Deep Sky Objects stemmed from a shared mutual interest in groups such as The Smiths, Interpol and Radiohead.

The band collectively began to record original material in Kevin’s makeshift home studio. With the completion of five tracks the band mixed their material at ‘Sonas Studios’ in Killarney which has previously hosted artists such as Dolores O’Riordan from ‘The Cranberries’ and ‘Walking On Cars’. The tracks were then mastered by Ruairi O’Flaherty in Los Angeles who recently worked with former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. Released in June 2015, ‘We’re Done Falling’ is Deep Sky Objects’ debut EP and is receiving great feedback from fans and reviewers.

DD’s infectious bass lines are the core of Deep Sky Objects’ songs with drummer Thomas claiming them to be “the secret behind ‘We’re Done Falling’”. The unique singing voice that Kevin provides also offsets the band’s sound which contributes to Deep Sky Objects’ distinction and appeal. These aspects along with Thomas’ rhythmic percussion defines the band’s sound.




You could almost taste the ocean as audience and musicians readied themselves for a night of acoustic music at the Theatre Royal in tribute to our fishermen.

FINAL POSTER DRAFT2-incLASTlogoThis special evening was the brainchild of Francie Conway, a Tralee musician who took his first steps in the world of entertainment many years ago with a band called ‘Clutch’ who was the first band in Kerry to play original songs, and Francie wrote these.

The show’s aim was to gather funds for L.A.S.T (Lost At Sea Tragedies) which was set up by Noel McDonagh and provides a network in all the Coastal Communities around Ireland offering financial, practical and emotional support, including bereavement counseling to the families of fishermen lost at sea.

Roddie Cleere was M.C for the evening and he introduced Grainne Swanton, a native of Dunmore East, who opened the show with two of her own compositions. Grainne Studies Contemporary Music Performance at Ballyfermot College of Further Education. Grainne sang just two songs only but two songs that show that her talent is headed in the right direction.

Liam Merriman and Eoin O’Meachair then took to the stage accompanied by Paul Grant and played a number of songs from their album ‘Birds Never Cease’ which was recently listed in the Hotpress Top 10 Folk Albums of the year. Liam’s years of treading the boards were in evidence and he introduced the songs with entertaining stories of how they came to be. This trio of musicians played with extreme competence and immediately had the audience on side.

Luán Parle is a singer who is no stranger to the stage or singing. Her career began at the tender age of 12 when she sang on the Late Late Toy during Gay Byrnes tenure. Since then she has gone on to win a Meteor Award for best female, and Talter Award ‘Winner for Women of the Year Music’. Following a spell away from singing she has returned with a strong determination and focus on her career. This show was, unbelievably, her first appearance in Waterford and, judging from the reaction from the audience, she will be made welcome again. Singing just five songs, Luán captivated from the get go. Luán Parle, a name to listen out for in the coming year.

Following a short break the show continued with the ‘local lad’, Martyn Travis. From Dunmore East, Martyn is well as known for his singing and he is for his fishing. Along with an assembled band made up from friends, Martyn relished the time on stage as he took us through his repertoire of songs about the sea and the life of a fisherman. Francie Conway finished off a night of excellent music as he entertained the audience with a look back at some of his more well known songs and finishing with the haunting ‘The Wild Atlantic Way’, his own composition, which merged with ‘The Lonesome Boatman’.  Our fishermen work in often-perilous conditions and while tragedies will occur, the work that L.A.S.T strives to achieve will at least help ease the stress encountered by those left behind. All of the artists performing at the Theatre Royal on this night did so for not fee and all proceeds went to L.A.S.T.

For more information see


Choice Music Prize – Irish Song of the Year 2015 – Shortlist

ChoiceMusic2015The Choice Music Prize, in association with IMRO and IRMA, today announces the shortlist for Irish Song of the Year 2015.

The Irish Song of the Year shortlist is compiled by combining selected songs from the Choice Music Prize Judging Panel, Today FM, and the Irish Airplay charts as compiled by Radio Monitor.

The 2015 shortlist is as follows

The Academic – Different (Room 6 Records)

All Tvvins – Thank You (Warner Music)

The Coronas – How This Goes (Universal Music)

Daithi – Mary Keanes Introduction (Self Released)

Fight Like Apes – Pretty Keen On Centrefolds (Alcopop! Records)

Hozier – Someone New (Universal Music)

Gavin James – Bitter Pill (Warner Music)

Kodaline – Ready (Sony Music)

Otherkin – Ay Ay (Rubyworks)

Pleasure Beach – Go (Faction)

How to Vote & Win Tickets to the Event

It is the public who will decide the winner by voting online at  All voters are in with a chance to win tickets to the Choice Music Prize Live Event on Thursday March 3rd at Vicar Street and people can vote once a day until voting closes at midnight on February 28th.

The winning entry will be announced at the Live Event and awarded the Choice Music Prize Irish Song of the Year trophy. The shortlisted songs will be profiled on air across Today FM The Choice Music Prize Live Event will be broadcast live on the night on the Paul McLoone Show on Today FM.

Tickets for the Choice Music Prize Live Event are on sale from all Ticketmaster outlets and from, priced at €25.50 including booking fee.

‘The Sun Goes Down’ – The 30th Vibe for Philo – Vicar Street, Dublin. A personal viewpoint

Photos by Colin Shanahan - DigiCol Photography & Media Productions (c) 2015 - -

Photo by Colin Shanahan – DigiCol Photography & Media Productions (c) 2015 –

Photos by Colin Shanahan - DigiCol Photography & Media Productions (c) 2015 - -

Photos by Colin Shanahan – DigiCol Photography & Media Productions (c) 2015 –

It was always going to be emotional event.

The annual tribute gig for Philip Lynott, ‘The Vibe for Philo’ had reached its thirtieth year.

Thirty years.

From early on the 3rd January there was a definite air of anticipation as supporters from all over Ireland, the UK and beyond began to arrive in Ireland’s capital. There was, for me a noticeable increase in the amount of vibers from America which was great to see. Much of the day was spent meeting with and chatting to friends, new and old.


Vibe Day – A very noticeable increase in numbers arriving into The North Star as many more from oversees arrived. The atmosphere upped to another level. I always enjoy meeting up with people at the North Star. There are always new people also who look a little in awe of the whole occasion but once you introduce them to fellow vibers they are soon at ease and immersing themselves into the experience.

I had intended to go to the Young rockers Vibe on Sunday afternoon in view of the kind of work I do with the radio show. However car problems on the way to Dublin meant that I was not going to make it on time. However, I did hear reports of a great attendance and performances from all concerned. Credit to Belinda Rogers on all her hard work in the organisation of this event. The nurture of young talent is vital and this event gives the young musicians the experience of a properly organised live event and also an opportunity of perform with seasoned musicians who in turn can teach them the art of stagecraft.hapenny

Following a much needed meal I set out, along with a number of friends to the Pre-Vibe. This was not an event I normally went to, mainly as I would normally not  arrive in Dublin until the 4th January but as this was the milestone 30th Vibe I wanted to be there earlier. As it turned out the venue was packed to capacity and, rightly so, no more were allowed to enter.

So, onward to Bruxelles and the statue. Bruxelles is the obvious hostelry the Lizzy faithful  gravitate to and when we arrived that too was packed, not to capacity thankfully. ‘Philomena’s Room’  was occupied as you would expect with Thin Lizzy supporters and was the main bar and out side. It was a really lovely way to spend a few hours in the company of like minded people some of whom were in Ireland for the very first time and it was especially nice to see their reaction to the seasoned Vibers and to the Irish ways. Eventually we all found our way back to the hotel and the evening was rounded off with a few more drinks. Even at that late hour, more supporters were arriving and the cycle of meeting and greeting began all over again. Bedtime beckoned and with a busy day ahead I took advantage and took my leave.

Man on a Mission.

By now, those of you who were at the Vibe for Philo will know what happened when I popped out on stage to surprise Smiley. I’ll write more about that later.

I first had the idea to do something special back in August of 2015 when Smiley launched the Vibe.  What first struck me was the fact that it was coming up on thirty years since Philip Lynott had died but more pertinently, it struck me that this was going to be Smileys thirtieth time organising this event. Granted the very early vibes were not as large as we have come to know but nevertheless  they still had to be put together. So, thirty years, thirty vibes. He never missed one of them personally. Never allowing anything to get in the way be it, illness, death or weather conditions – the show must go on. With all of that a factor, I felt that something needed to be done. We all know that Smiley is MR.VIBE but even so I still felt that a proper presentation had to happen AND IT HAD TO HAPPEN in front of the Vibe audience. It could have been done after the show at the after party but again I felt that it all needed to be seen by as many people as possible.

I live in Waterford in the south east of Ireland. I have a friend (Thanks Ken!!!!) who works as a master craftman. I was very fortunate indeed that he  knew what I was hoping to do and came up with the piece that was eventually presented to Smiley, which I am sure you will agree, is pretty stunning. I am forever in his debt for producing such an incredible piece of work. Once in the hotel it was simply a matter of keeping the glass in my room.

4th January 2016

A nice lazy start to the day having breakfast with people I had not seen for twelve months. It felt like it was just yesterday since we last spoke but still had a lot to talk about. A few hours rest and then back to the bar area to meet up with even more who had arrived. By now the atmosphere had built even  more, due in part to the many ‘newbies’ who had arrived and their excitement was plain. There was a marked increase in the amount of Americans who had made the trip to Dublin this year and not just from the east coast but much further afield. The idea that this could be the final vibe and the fact that it was a milestone gig were the catalysts for many to attend. The afternoon for many of the traveling supporters was spent at Howth to see Philips resting place and, where possible, a visit to see Philomena. Despite not being in good health Philomena was as always ready to greet with open arms.

For my part, I was starting to set my sights on Vicar Street. I was a man on a mission with regard to the Glass sculpture that I needed to get to the venue.

My plan was, I thought, pretty straightforward. I would do the raffle and then POW, surprise him with the sculpture. That is, until I sat with Smiley at the North Star. Over the last four or so Vibes, Smiley had asked if I would do the raffle. Never really a problem apart from those damn raffle tickets. I always had difficulty telling what colour they were. So Smiley suggested that I don’t do the raffle ! ‘Ok’, I said agreeing but in my head I was thinking “aghhhhh, what do I do now?”  For now I had to let that go, getting the piece to the venue and safely hidden away was my priority.

Photos by Colin Shanahan - DigiCol Photography & Media Productions (c) 2015 - -

Photo by Colin Shanahan – DigiCol Photography & Media Productions (c) 2015 –

Normally I would not get to the venue until the regular times but this was different. I was there at 5.30pm and managed to find a secure spot in the green room. I knew that once the show was underway, Smiley would be down at the stage so I really just had to be sure he would not see it even if he did venture into the green room. With the piece safely stored away I took some time to stroll around the venue. I have been to Vicar Street many times, it’s one of my favourite venues in Dublin but I had never been in it without an audience. Now, there were just a few people about, all busily preparing for the night ahead. The Low Riders were sound checking while upstairs the clatter of bottles indicated that the bar was being stocked (they would need it!)

Heading back to the green room I bumped into Brian Downey. I have known Brian for a few years, not in any real close way but enough for us to know each other by name or perhaps it more correct for me to say, he knows me and what I do and my connection. What we spoke of in that short time I will not reveal here out of respect for the man as well as the musician. We spoke briefly later in the evening  just prior to him taking to the stage. A really nice man, who is also a private man and one I have great time and admiration for, not just because he was Thin Lizzys drummer but for other reasons also. Like everyone else, I was delighted to see him play Thin Lizzy at this milestone event.

Likewise with Frank Murray, who was tour manager with Thin Lizzy. These days I have dealings with Frank in his capacity as band manager and promoter and me with the radio show, so our paths cross pretty regularly. I spoke with him a few minutes before he was due on stage to introduce Brian Downey  and Eric Bell and he was, not unexpectedly, nervous. Nervous not just because he was unused to speaking in front of such a large audience but also the significance of the occasion. We, as supporters remember the music and the gigs we attended but for people like Frank, Eric, Brian and Smiley and of course Philomena and all those who were closely associated with the band on a day to day basis, it was a time for remembering in a way we cannot really fully understand. One he went and as anyone who was there will know, emotion got to him . It was a very touching moment and a very real moment as the memories came flooding back to him.  After he left the stage, I shook his hand and congratulated him. He was shaking but I suspect he was glad to have done it. Well done Frank, Philip would have appreciated it.

Moment of Truth

The Hoodoos, Fiach Moriarty, Mongoose, John Cummins, Jerome and Gus (The Soul Brothers),Philomena, Frank,  Eric & Brian and the Low Riders had all done their sets and the night had been terrific. The atmosphere was sizzling. Now came the raffle and I knew that the moment was not to far away for me to get out there on the stage and present Smiley with his award.

Now, it should be pointed out that Smiley runs a very tight ship and there’s very little, if anything, that goes on on stage that he does not know about. Timing was everything now !

Pat McGuire is the stage manager at the Vibe and has been for a long time. Another man who is superb at what he does. His part in what happened next was vital.

Carolyn and her daughter Lauren were in the process of pulling tickets for the raffle and were aware that I was poised to do my thing. (Sorry Smiley, many of your crew were in on it all ! 🙂 I said to Pat that the microphone that they were using was on the far side of the stage and that Smiley was standing immediately behind them ready to get back on and introduce PARRIS. In order to get to the mic and more importantly, get to it before Smiley did, I would need to be super human and be faster than Usain Bolt !  Add to that the fact I had the glass sculpture with me and needed to keep that as hidden as I could. In steps Pat with a moment of genius thinking. A radio mic ! A quick communication to the sound desk and the radio mic was live !

As Lauren wound up the raffle, I saw Smiley make a move to take his mic. I cut across Lauren’s final words “Smiley Bolger, leave that microphone aloneSMILEY and Glass

Now my friends…..If looks could kill I was dead and buried !!  Smiley, on the phone to me a few days later, said he could not remember how he reacted.  It was a look more of utter shock and surprise than anything else. I knew that it was something he was not expecting, like I said he runs a tight ship and in his eyes I should not be there. In that same instant I think he may have caught a glimpse of the glass and he resigned himself to whatever was about to happen.


Smiley is not usually stuck for words but this time he was. It was never my intention to take long with the presentation but at the same time I wanted to be sure that Smiley take the spotlight in his own right.  My little speech over – “Smiley, take a bow”, I left the stage.  I regard loyalty among friends very highly and it was for his loyalty to Philip that I made the decision to do something to see that loyalty rewarded. – There’s also another reason, but that’s between me and him, though I don’t think he knows. I may tell him sometime. When he came off stage, we shared a nice moment. I immediately took the sculpture from him and returned it to the safety of  green room and eventually back to the hotel.  Job done !

Photos by Colin Shanahan - DigiCol Photography & Media Productions (c) 2015 - -

Photo by Colin Shanahan – DigiCol Photography & Media Productions (c) 2015 –

So another Vibe drew to a close and the after party back at the hotel was as you would expect, buzzing with people recalling their own highlights. What an amazing night/weekend. All Vibes are great but this one, well this one had that little bit extra. Number thirty, Eric Bell and Brian Downey performing, Philomena and Smiley and of course the music and the memory of Philip Parris Lynott.

Will there be a thirty first? All indications point to no, and even if there is another it will not be as we know it. But what do I know ? The tenth was to be the last, as was the twentieth and twenty fifth. The call is Smileys but I don’t feel anyone would begrudge him if he stepped down. None of us are getting any younger. Could someone else take over? I was even asked if I’d do it ! Respectively, no.  Besides there are far more qualified people than me. To be honest, no matter who took it on, if anyone, they could not do it the way Smiley did. He special relationship with Philip was a major part of what it was all about.  Purely from a personal viewpoint, I don’t it fair to put it on Smileys shoulders again. He deserves the break. That said, come next August he may wonder what to do with himself as he contemplates and only he will know.  Whatever happens, I know that come 4th January 2017 Ill be in Bruxelles, raising a drink to Philip.

“….the years, the tears, the memories and you, in Dublin”

Philip Lynott – ‘Dublin’

Photos by Colin Shanahan - DigiCol Photography & Media Productions (c) 2015 - -

Photos by Colin Shanahan – DigiCol Photography & Media Productions (c) 2015 –

MY New Year

I like Christmas. Not the commercial rubbish. (Spare me the “you MUST have this”.) I guess I’m lucky, in that I really have three people who I ‘have’ to get gifts for so there’s no real rushing about the place like a headless chicken. Christmas Day is usually spent catching up with family.

New Year is different – Not to fond of that and its not an age thing either. Even when I was a lot younger, the thoughts  of having to deal with masses of people, all out to try and impress each other, a mad crush at the bar to buy overpriced and warm beer which in all probability will end up being spilled as you try to negotiate your way back to your friends . Not that I begrudge anyone from enjoying themselves. No, New Year…… Its just not my thing.

VibeforPhilo_2016_header banner_OILMY new year starts on the 4th January.  By now you know what I’m on about, especially if you know me. I have been a fan of Philip Lynott and Thin Lizzy since I was a kid. The annual Vibe for Phil is now in it’s thirtieth year. Hard to fathom that that amount of time has passed since he died.

Yet, the 4th January is a very important date, especially in the diary of the dedicated supporter. For the majority, they come for the music. I was fortunate to have seen the original band many times, the first in 1972 when I had to sneak out to see them (I was 14). For many, this is the nearest they will get to the real deal and believe me when I say that some of the bands that have played the Vibe are astounding in their sound.

For a lot of others its about meeting up with people that we have come to know down the years and who share a common bond through Philips music. To an ‘outsider’ its a little difficult to explain but I am sure most reading with get it.

The sub-title this year is “the Sun Goes Down’ and it reminded me of a brave album that was released for the 25th anniversary by Swedish singer Joakim Amorell and his band “Courtesy of”. I say brave about anyone who makes an attempt to cover Philips music in a different way,as many of the songs are held in very high regard by the Thin Lizzy faithful and as such, you mess with them at your peril
smile emoticon
Joakim’s album took Philips songs and added orchestration which works, for the most part, on many of the songs he chose to record. Check out ‘Massacre’ and ‘Jailbreak’ in particular…..

So, even if you’re not a fan, throw on the greatest hits and raise a glass to Philip Lynott on Monday 4th January