Mick Hanly
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"Certain songs hit exactly the right note."

Singer-songwriter Mick Hanley gets John Masterson musing about music.

Everyone has a few favourite songs. They may be reminders of a special time. They probably address an emotion you felt better than you were able to express it.

The appeal of some songs seems to last forever: the number of current hits that had their first outing in the Sixties shows how universal themes live on from generation to generation.

The good songwriters are the chroniclers of our time, of the emotions, of the people and of the scenarios that make us think of everyday things in new ways.

There are great interpreters of songs - Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah comes immediately to mind, But for the most part, a song in the hands of its writer has a unique feeling.

I have always loved The Beatles. Recently, I drove to Thomastown with six Beatles albums in the CD player. I had a feeling I never anticipated having. Many of the early hits began to sound tired, even a bit vacuous. I had to remind myself how dead the early Sixties were to make myself remember just how exciting I feel Fine was at the time.

By the time I had flicked on to Rubber Soul, normal service had resumed. It is still astounding just how good Lennon and McCartney got at their craft as they developed. By Sergeant Pepper the four moptops had written some of the best songs of all time.

Mick Hanly writes a song better than most, and I had to pull every string I could to get into his sold-out gig in Carroll's pub in Thomastown that night. Mostly he sings his own songs, and it is clear that this is a man with genuine feeling singing about real and universal experiences. He usually introduces a song with a little history of how it came about.

Past the Point of Rescue is a great song in its own right, but the context makes it that bit more personal and you realise that this is a man who does not lie to himself for the sake of a good line. And the sadness of his parents not living to see the success of that song is movingly sung in I feel I should be calling You. Anyone who has lost a parent knows what he means.

Cold Cold World tells the story of a woman living in poverty, made all the worse by winter closing in. In these hard times of the big freeze, hers is the only plumbing on the street that keeps working. Through the cold snap she temporarily finds hereself in the centre of the social life in her street. The cold snap ends. The old social order resumes and "its cold out there again".

Anyone who listens to the song thinks of times when they might have been a bit more charitable, or when they felt the sting of a snub.

The night I listened to him, all hell was breaking loose in Fallujah. We had all been sitting in front of the TV without feeling much personal involvement. Mick told us the next song was about his stepson, Thomas. Mick's wife Marie, the boy's mother, was listening and holding herself together. Tomas was like a lot of teenagers, a good kid and a bit wayward at times. When he joined the Marines, Mick and Marie thought it would probably do him a power of good. Then 9/11 happened.

As Mick sang his song about Thomas, he was singing about a boy that people in the audience knew personally. Many were worried sick as he as fighting in Iraq, in Fallujah to be precise.

So much of what is pumped out on the radio and TV seems so trite. Maybe a song is the best way to get it into our heads that war is a very personal business.

Later that weekend, I heard Bob Dylan's Blowing in the Wind. We all need to listen that bit harder so young men can return home, drink a beer and enjoy some music like the rest of us.

(c) Sunday Independent 2004 - John Masterson Sunday Independent 20th November 2004


"Wish Me Well Review"

An endearing sense of grizzled experience increasingly marks the work of singer and song-writer Mick Hanly. Like many coasting into middle-age, he is long past the notion of the glass being half-full. His foibles, life's little disappointments and observations are frankly explored in these 11 songs of soft melody and honest craft.

He is aided and abetted in no small measure by producer Delcan Sinnott's layered yet subtle production; Sinnott's tasteful guitar playing is another bonus. The songs are typically Hanly in tone and texture, but if his measured reflections are not your cup of meat you may make do with wishing him well from a distance.

© Irish Times 2004 - Joe Breen, Irish Times, November 19th 2004


"They rarely come any rootsier than this"

They rarely come any rootsier than this, Mick Hanly with a basket of all new songs (bar one) and a bunch of skilled musicians locked in producer P.J. Curtis's cottage in Clare for four days.

The result is a stunningly relaxed and refreshing work, with Hanly sounding sharper than he has for years.

The opener 'Wooden Horses' is a little reminiscent of 'I Recall a Gypsy Lover' but it sets the agenda for what's in store with some freewheeling playing from Declan Corey on mandolin, Liam Lewis on fiddle and its general downhome approach. 'You're a Big Girl Now' (not the Dylan song) is a heartaching track about a teenage daughter's first flight from the nest. '

A Wedding and a Funeral' is a social snapshot of an Ireland that, thankfully, has not yet been eaten by the Celtic Tiger, while 'Mrs O' Neill' with some stirring accordion from Josephine Marsh, looks at how we often callously use each other. It overflows with sadness and anger, perfectly expressed by Hanly positively spitting the line "I'm glad we're rid of those fuckers".

He also revisits 'Without the Fanfare', the hit he wrote for Mary Black, and invests it with some fresh emotional power.

In a musical world bloated with fake emotion contrived merely to sell records, Hanly stands apart as a man who writes real songs for grown-ups.

© Hot Press 2000 - Hot Press Jackie Hayden


"So Few Writers able to Match Hanly"

Paul Dromey pays tribute to Mick Hanly's latest collection which brings a freshness to the songwriter's familiar themes.

Ireland has produced a fair share of accomplished songwriters but only a handful can match Mick Hanly when it comes to pure songwriting craft. Though often cast in a country music mould, his work incorporates a powerful cogency of expression and emotion which can move - sometimes even startle.

'Wooden Horses', Hanly's latest 12 song collection, has just been released on his own Dog House Records (CDDH2). It's a superb offering revisiting many of the themes Mick has exploerd previously, but with a renewed freshness and clarity.

The title track finds him evoking happy childhood memories but the song has a gentle twist to it's tale. 'The Golden Key Bar' humerously takes us back to 1969 and Mick's first, tentative steps at being an entertainer. 'Wedding and a Funeral' is a zany flight-of-fancy. The song 'Mrs O' Neill' finds Mick Hanly at his powerful, cogent best, turning a recollection into a poignant, hard-hitting story about collective human nature at it's most insensitive.

Nobody writes a love song quite like Mick Hanly does. In 'Burnt Out Star', 'You're a Big Girl Now', 'Once Was Enough', 'She Sang Stardust', 'You Have My Word' and a reworking of his earlier 'without the Fanfare', his sensitivity and deftness of approach looks at love from all kinds of perspectives: from first bloom to what he calls "hanging in for the long haul", taking in the aching bitter-sweet and fading varieties and the knowing when to let go aspect of parental love.

"You have to look for something to hang each song on" Hanly says. "'Burnt Out Star' began from reading about the idea that after a star has died, it's light is still out there. There are so many love songs being written, one can't really come up with something new. What you hope to get is a new angle. For instance, 'You're a Big Girl Now' is loosely based on my daughter but I tried to write something with which lots of people would readily identify. I think that most of the love songs on this album are pretty positive love songs."

Are all his songs drawn from personal experience?

"No, some are, but many come from situations I've observed. I draw from what I see as well as from what I save. For this particular album, much of the ideas came from fiddling around with a new guitar tuning I'd stumbled across. "About three quarters of the songs are written in this tuning. It threw me into a different direction - to chord shapes with which I wouldn't have been familiar in standard tuning - and consequently to new melodic approaches." For guitarists curious about the tuning, it's EADGAE, almost standard, but dropping the normal B on the second string to an 'A'.

"With 'Mrs O' Neill' and 'The Golden Key Bar' I'm drawing directly on personal experience. With 'Wooden Horses', I'm remembering the lovely innocent childhood time when you could sit in an old jalopy and pretend that it was the real thing. Now, they're taking the real thing! Kids today don't have as much fun with their imagination as we used to do."

Back in the early nineties, Hal Ketchum's cover version of Hanly's song 'Past the Point of Rescue' reached the No. 2 slot in the American Country Charts. Does he feel he can repeat the process?

"I will send copies of the album to people I know in the business there, but to be honest, what's coming out of Nashville hasn't interested me as a musical direction. I think that songs like 'Burnt Out Star' could possibly make it out there. The Irish instrumentation may also make the album more radio-friendly."

'Wooden Horses' was recorded in the front room of producer P.J. Curtis's house in Kilfenora, Co. Clare. "It's the room where he plays all his own records," Mick explains. "It has a lovely natural echo - stone walls and high ceiling. The album captures that atmosphere.

"P.J. and I discussed the approach quite a lot and I left the round up of the traditional musicians - most of whom I'd never met, or even heard before - to him. But they really delivered and I love the way they play on the recording. There are no effects, no studio tracking together, just straight takes."

Session musicians on 'Wooden Horses' include: Mick Kinsella (harmonica), Declan Corey (mandolin), Padraic O' Broin (guitar), John Moloney (bodhran), Josephine Marsh (button accordion), Jim Kerrigan (uilleann pipes), Paul O' Driscoll (double bass) and Liam Lewis, Tola Custy, Clare O' Donaghue and Michelle O' Brien, all on fiddles.

© The Examiner 2000 - The Examiner Paul Dromey


"No Duds Here"

Awarded the B.M.I. america award winner in 1992 - for most played country song 'Past the Point of Recsue', Mick Hanly needs little introduction. His latest collection 'Wooden Horses' certainly lives up to his high standards.

Recorded at the old forge, Kilnaboy and produced by P.J. Curtis there are no duds here. Many of Hanly's songs contain a mixture of personal experience and wry observation, that retain a universal appeal. Hanly's writing and singing always provide a fine balance between the humerous and the serious.

After listening to a demo of 'Wooden Horses', I took down some of his earlier recordings such as 'Celtic Folkweave' and 'A Kiss in the Morning Early' and listened to them over again. The most beautiful songs for me ar 'You're a big Girl Now', 'Without the Fanfare' and 'If This Be Love' plus the humerous 'Golden Key Bar' and the title track. Backed by many of Clare's finest musicians this album is a welcome breath of fresh air. 'Wooden Horses' will just grow and grow on you.


© Clare Advertiser 1999 - Julie Byrnes, Clare Advertiser


"Review Live at Whelans"

Oy, what's all this, then? People dancing in the aisles at a Mick Hanly gig? Let's hope the Trad-Arr Police don't get to hear about this or Mick could have his license endorsed.

Of course dancing has traditionally been a standard feature of wakes, and to some extent this gig finally marked the passing of Mick Hanly Mark 1, whom you may recall as the rather earnest, if dour, performer who carried all the worries of the world on his brow. He's been replaced by a slightly younger model, who is not only more at ease on stage but who knows a thing or two about kickin' ass too, especially when aided and abetted by a band that includes Arty McGlynn, Eoghan O'Neill and Rod McVey.

Even fans of MH Mk 1 will be pleasantly arrested by the newer, funkier material from the upcoming Happy Like This album, particularly the title track, 'Nobody Told Me' and the exuberant 'No Mercy'.

'A Fagan Place', also from the new album, gave the band the chance to slip into a groove as comfortable as an old raincoat, although I doubt if I'll ever like the cod-smoochiness of 'The Piano Tuner' for which he was joined on stage by vocalist Shelley Buckspan.

But there was equal time allotted for a liberal sprinkling of Mick's more sensitive songs, like the excellent 'Writing On The Wall', 'One More For The Daddy' (about his late father), the current single 'Blessed' and 'These Days', on several of which his vocals took on the resonance of a Don Williams.

The more familiar 'Past The Point of Rescue' and 'Vocals And Guitar' all deservedly went down a treat too. But for me the jewel in the crown was 'I Feel I Should Be Calling You', a song of such aching regret and poignancy that it deserves to eclipse even the success of 'Rescue'.

Mick's recent achievements might make some of us feel a twinge of guilt about not honouring him adequately in the past, but that will do us no harm at all, for we can now at least acknowledge that we have in our midst a mature country singer-songwriter to compete with the best and he doesn't even wear a hat.

Nashville me arse!

© Hot Press 1993 - Jackie Hayden Hot Press


"Happy Like This"

RECORDED IN just five days, Happy Like This oozes the kind of first-take spontaneity sadly lacking in most current releases. Which is not to suggest that it’s amateurish or in any way rough around the edges. Thanks to the cracking band Mick Hanly has assembled, this is an accomplished work, showcasing his proven songwriting ability and perfectly in keeping with his newfound assurance.

The single ‘Blessed’, already garnering considerable radio play is as good as anything he has written to date and is nicely underpinned by Kenny Craddock’s shimmering Hammond organ. On ‘One More For The Daddy’ he reminisces nostalgically about his childhood, his family and growing up in the fifties.

Despite his recent songwriting success on the country market, there are only two songs here which could be described as ‘straight’ country – the sparsely accompanied ‘These Days’ and the lovely ‘The Writing On The Wall’.

The rest finds Hanly in a good-timey rollicking mood as on the title track where he reflects wryly on growing older: “I’ll give the reformation a miss… I’m happy like this”. ‘Nobody Told Me’ is similar in approach with its bluesy honky-tonk rhythms and ‘I Could Have Missed Her By A Whisker’ would’t sound out of place on a Tina Tuner album.

‘Geronimo’s Child’ steams along like a demented freight train and Hanly slips into a cabaret mood on the ‘Piano Tuner’, playfully dueting with Shelley Buckspin over a smokey, jazzy late-night shuffle.

With more than able assistance from Arty McGlynn, Fran Breen, Eoghan O’Neill, Noel Eccles and Kenny Craddock, Happy Like This is an album of substance and style which confirms Mick Hanly’s reputation as an artist to be reckoned with.

He sounds like a man enjoying himself too and I think it might be contagious. Catch it if you can!

© Hot Press 1993 - Colm O'Hare, Hot Press


"2 Million-Air Award for Mick Hanly"

"His songs are real, they mean something. He is one of the best songwriters around at the moment." Garth Brooks

'A warm, wise, loving book. Wry, too' Frank McCourt

'Hanly is no vainglorious braggart singing his own praises but a writer scrupulously attempting to make sense of a life lived well if sometimes not too wisely. And it is the better book for that'. The Irish Times

Mick Hanly is the recipient of the Prestigious BMI Million-Air Award, the third such award, for his song "Past the Point of Rescue" recorded by Hal Ketchum. Only about 1,500 titles have achieved "Million-Air" status, or more than one million United States radio and television performances.

One million performances is the equivalent of approximately 50,000 broadcast hours, or more than 5.7 years of continuous airplay.

Hanly's songs have been recorded by such luminaries as Christy Moore, Mary Black, Dolores Keane, Delbert McLinton etc. CBMedia - Various


"Chapter and Verse - review of 'Wish Me Well: Notes on My Sleeve'"

In the tax-strapped early 80's, to earn some extra cash and boost my record collection, I used to review folk-music albums for The Irish Times. Mostly I went easy on the poor devils who crossed my path, conscious of the long days spent in some draughty recording studio and the fragile hops resting on my words. I don't suppose it made me a particularly good reviewer, yet of the hundreds of performers I mentioned in those days, only one person ever took the trouble to write and thank me. That man was signer-songwriter Mikc Hanly.

I mention this becuase Hanly has written his autobiography, and a particularly fine book it is. But it is not an autobiography in the traditional sense. It dosen't being at the beginning and go right on to the end, as Lewis Carroll suggested, but it does tell his life story nevertheless. The method he has chosen is to take 11 of his songs and explain the events in his life that inspired each compositin, hence the reference to sleeve notes in the title. The result is a series of snapshots, betimes poignant and amusing, but always searingly honest.

Hanly was born in Limerick in the 1940's but it was not the Limerick immortalised by Frank McCourt in Angela's Ashes. His father, John, had a decent job as a sales rep for Matterson's Bacon factory so the family always had enough to eat. But by today's standards there was little in the way of luxury and money was always tight. The family budget was a hand-to-mouth business, typical of working-class families in that era when every shilling had to be accounted for. Yet, despite these difficulties, his father somwhow found the cash to buy the musical included youngster his first proper guitar with the profound commnt: "Dosen't it keep him off the streets?" It wa a Hagtrom 12-string and cost 63 guineas, an enormous sum at the time, paid off in instalments of 10 shillings a week.

Hanly writes lovingly about his parents and the tight-knit family circle, about the Arch Confraternity, his first encounters with girsl and schooling with the Christian Brothers. Some of the most moving prose in the book deals with the deaths of his mother and father within 10 weeks of each other in 1991. Incredibly, his wife's father, Mick, also died within that short period.

But darkness also prevades parts of this book. Hanly's decision to become a musician set him on a rocky road and he holds nothing back as he details his stuggle to write songs and survive in the precarious music business, a struggle that sometimes brougth him to the verge of despair. With the same brutal honesty, he deals with the breakdown of relationships and his growing difficulties with alcohol.

Yet Hanly can also display a lightness of touch. There is an hilarious account of a trip undertaken to Brittany in 1973 by himself, Cathal Goan and Micheal O Domhnaill, who compirsed a folk band called Monroe. It was Hanly's first expedition abroad and his struggels iwth the French language and with the local shopkeepers, and his determination to find the ingredients for a decent Irish fry-up, bring a smile to the lips.

There is also a wonderful chapter called Shellakabookee Boy which details his tender relationship with his stepson, Thomas, and how the young boy's initial suspicion of Hanly gradually matures in to a mutual love. No parent reading this account could fail to be moved when Thomas enlists in the US Marine Corps and is sent to the Iraq war.

Someone once said that a reader should be wary of autobiographies because they are written by the main protagonist. That advice can be safely discarded in this instance.

Hanly is no vainglorious braggart singing his own praises but a writer scrupulously attempting to make sense of a life lived well if sometimes not too wisely. And it is the better book for that.

(c) The Irish Times - The Irish Times, Eugene McEldowney


Discography

Wish Me Well (2004)
1. Dust In The Storm 2. I Feel I Should Be Calling You 3. Damaged Halo 4. Too Old For Fairytales 5. Trying To Get To St. Nazaire 6. I Am, I Am 7. Crusader 8. Wish Me Well 9. Cold, Cold, World 10. Shellakabookee Boy 11. When Nobody's Beating On The Drums Musicians: Mick Hanly; Vocals and guitar. All other instruments: Declan Sinnott. Produced by Declan Sinnott.

Wooden Horses (2000) Doghouse Songs Ltd
1. Wooden Horses 2. You're a Big Girl Now 3. Burnt Out Star 4. A Wedding and a Funeral 5. Mrs O' Neill 6. Once Was Enough 7. She Sang Stardust 8. Light of My Life 9. Without the Fanfare 10. The Golden Key Bar 11. If This Be Love 12. You Have My Word Produced by P.J. Curtis. Engineered by P.J. Curtis. Musicians: Mick Hanly: Vocals, Guitar. Declan Corey: Mandolin. Tola Custy: Fiddle. Jim Kerrigan: Pipes, Low Whistle. Mick Kinsella: Harmonica. Liam Lewis: Fiddle. Josephine Marsh: Accordion. John Moloney: Bodhran. Michelle O' Brien: Viola. Padraic O' Broin: Acoustic Guitar, Bottleneck Guitar. Clare O' Donaghue: Cello. Paul O' Driscoll: Double Bass.

Live at the Meeting Place (1998) Doghouse Songs Ltd.
1. One More From the Daddy 2. I Can Disappear 3. The Fabulous Thunderbirds 4. Moving Things Around 5. The Crusader 6. Warts and All 7. Heart of Hearts 8. Paul 9. Where's the Boat 10. Past the Point of Rescue 11. Beautiful View 12. Nothing in the Can 13. Above Waterline Produced by Mick Hanly. Engineered by Pearse Gilmore. Musicians: Mick Hanly: Vocals, Guitar. Philip Donnelly: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar. Niamh Kavanagh: Vocal on 'Heart of Hearts'.

Happy Like This (1993) Round Tower Music
1. Happy Like This 2. Nobody Told Me 3. I Feel I Should Be Calling You 4.Geronimo's Child 5. One More From the Daddy 6. A Fagan Place 7. These Days 8. Blessed 9. No Mercy 10. Medicine Man 11. The Piano Tuner 12. The Writing on the Wall 13. I Could Have Missed Her by a Whisker Produced by Mick Hanly. Engineered by Ciaran Byrne. Musicians: Mick Hanly: Vocals, Guitar. Arty McGlynn: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar. Eoghan O' Neill: Bass Guitar. Fran Breen: drums. Kenny Craddock: Hammond Organ, Piano. Noel Eccles: Percussion. Percy Robinson: Pedal Steel. Shelly Buckspan: Vocal on 'The Piano Tuner'.

Warts And All (1991) Round Tower Music
1. Nothing in the Can 2. What's His Name 3. Don't Try to Cushion the Blow 4. The Fabulous Thunderbirds 5. On Vocals and Guitar 6. Wherever You Go 7. Joan 8. Warts and All 9. Let's Not Fight 10. Words and the Bottle 11. Uncle John 12. Art and Reality 13. My Body and Me 14. Happy to be Here Produced by Arty McGlynn. Engineered by Ciaran Byrne. Musicians: Mick Hanly: Vocals, Guitar. Arty McGlynn: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar. Eoghan O' Neill: Bass Guitar. Fran Breen: drums. Kenny Craddock: Hammond Organ, Piano, Bottleneck Guitar. Philip King: Harmonica.

All I Remember (1989) Ringsend Road Music
1. Still Haven't Managed 2. Birthmark 3. Free to Run 4. Past the Point of Rescue 5. Fall Like a Stone 6. My Love is in America 7. All I Remember 8. Cold War 9. Landslide 10. Above Waterline Produced by Donal Lunny. Engineered by Pearse Dunne. Musicians: Mick Hanly: Vocals, Guitar. Donal Lunny: Keyboards, Bazouki. John Ryan: Keyboards. James Delaney: Keyboards. Garvan Gallagher: Bass. Paul Moran: Drums. Noel Bridgeman: Percussion. Tony Molloy: Bass. Keith Donald: Saxophone. Peter Condell: Electric Guitar. Des Moore: Guitar. Anto Drennan: Electric Guitar.

Still Not Cured (1987) W.E.A.
1. Back Again 2. Without the Fanfare 3. The Silence 4. Sorry I Said 5. Where It's At 6. Neighbour 7. Still Not Cured 8. Search for the Light Produced by Mick Hanly. Engineered by Andrew Boland. Musicians: Mick Hanly: Vocals, Guitar. Pat Carey: Bass Guitar. Davy Whyte: Drums. Peter Condell: Electric Guitar. Paul Kelly: Fiddle. Bill Whelan: Piano. Keith Donald: Saxophone.

Live Hearts (1983) W.E.A.
1. McBrides 2-1 2. Freddie Downtown 3. All I Remember 4. Open Those Gates 5. Strain Of The Dance 6. What Will You Do About Me? 7. Let Somebody Know 8. Lake Of Shadows Produced by Steve Turner. Engineered by Steve Turner.

Recorded live at the Dominion Theatre, London on 28th February 1983.

As I Went Over Blackwater (1980) Mulligan Records
1. Jack Haggerty 2. The Guerriere and the Constitution 3. Every Circumstance 4. The Dewey Dens of Yarrow 5. Miss Bailey and Jessica's Polka 6. I Wish My Love Was a Red Red Rose 7. Off to California and the Plains of Boyle 8. The Scourge of the Nation 9. As I Went Over Blackwater. Produced by Donal Lunny. Engineered by Philip Begley. Musicians: Mick Hanly: Vocals, Guitar. Donal Lunny: Bazouki. Andy Irvine: Mandolin, Hurdygurdy. Matt Molloy: Flute. Noel Hill: Concertina. Paddy Glackin: Fiddle. Declan Sinnott: Electric Slide Guitar.

A Kiss in the Morning Early (1976) Mulligan Records
1. Farewell Dearest Nanny 2. Merchant's Daughter 3. My Johnny was a Shoemaker 4. Song of repentance 5. Rosemary Fair 6. A Kiss in the Morning Early 7. An tSean Bh

Photos

Bio

To a teenage boy struggling to master three basic chords on his guitar at home in his room in the Ireland of the early '60s, the possibility and probability of seeing his name in the American Top Ten charts must have seemed exceedingly remote indeed. At that time, in that place, it must have seemed as remote as being the first man on the planet Mars; a dream beyond the wildest imagination.

Nevertheless, it was a dream shared by many aspiring Irish musicians; though achieved by very few over the last three decades. For one Limerick City teenager wrestling with the guitar intricacies of the Apache, a huge instrumental hit for the Shadows in 1960, it must have seemed an impossible dream.

Thirty years on, however, that dream has come true for Irish singer-songwriter Mick Hanly. He has just seen one of his songs, 'Past The Point of Rescue' (as performed by rising Nashville country star, Hal Ketchum) storm the U.S. country singles and album charts and remain there for several months, earning the coveted Gold Disc for both performer and writer. It's been a long road, one with many turns, diversions and more than a few lay-bys. Ultimately it has been one which has brought Mick Hanly and his music to a wider audience than he ever dreamed possible while struggling to master the A minor to D major guitar-shifts of 'Apache' in 1960.

The road to such success is rarely one on which any artist hitches a free ride. It is a road on which the artist must travel with unwavering determination, commitment, self-belief and self-discipline and, most of all, the talent to carry the artist through to the road's end. These are qualities which Mick Hanly has in abundance. Qualities which have seen him carve a career in an often unforgiving music business; from would be teenage rock 'n' roller to professional folk-singer to country singer and, more significantly, country songwriter of world class stature, earning him an international reputation and the respect of both peers and ordinary listener alike.

Mick Hanly was born into a music loving family in Limerick and grew up in that city where his early influences were "hurling, confession, leathers, Alan Ladd, Jack Palance and 'The Boy' (the film hero - Audie Murphy etc). It was understood that Mick would continue school and secure himself a "permanent and pensionable" position with a reputable company. State body or the Civil Service.

The arrival in Limerick of rock 'n' roll in the mid -'50s was to change all that; with Elvis, Buddy Holly and the Everly Brother's records blasting down the airwaves from Radio Luxembourg, firing Mick's imagination as nothing ever had before. His first guitar, purchased for little over £2 in Todds of Limerick, accompanied him as he steeled his nerve to perform 'Living Doll' (while wearing his mother's straw hat!) at a primary school concert in 1958. "I got my first real guitar much later", Mick recalls. "It was a Hagstrom costing 63 guineas and paid for in ten shillings-a-week installments for four years. It was a beautiful instrument. I picked up its half-brother in 1983 and that's what I play today.

The early 60's brought the Beatles and 'Beat Boom', which obsessed Mick and his fellow Limerick musicians Jack Costello, later bass-player with Grannies Intentions and Don O'Connor of Reform. This obsession was to incur the wrath of the Christian Brother School Superior (never renowned for their understanding, gentility or humanity) when Mick turned in his best Lennonesque rave-up performance of 'Twist and Shout' with his group The Astronauts, at the end-of-term concert.

For Mick, the '60s slipped by to the rhythm of The Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Animals, the Hollies, the Spencer Davis Group and to the internal rhythms of everyday Irish urban living, shaped by the influences of Christian Brother's schooling, the Harty Cup hurling team, Confraternity, the Leaving Cert., and the weekly local dance-hops. Many of these images were to find expression in his powerful song, written in the '80s, 'All I Remember', first recorded by Mick himself on the 1983 Moving Hearts' 'Live Hearts' (W.E.A.) (and also the title track of his first Round Tower album) and later by Christy Moore on his 1987 'Time Has Come' album.

School days complete, it was time for Mick to find a 'real job', and 1970 found him working in Galway City for the E.S.B. (Electricity Supply Board) and performing Woody Guthrie and Paul Simon material in his spare time in the Golden Key, a well known folk music venue in that city. His new found interest in folk music had begun a few years earlier when, at a concert in the west Clare seaside town of Kilkee, Mick witnessed Sean O'Riada's group and also the playing of the legendary Clare uilleann piper Willie Clancy.

As rock 'n' roll had touched his heart in his teenage years, the traditional sounds of O'Riada and Clancy tugged at his sound in a way that forced him to fully understand his sense of 'Irishness', "Suddenly I r