Northern Ireland

Fermanagh musician, Andy Irvine launches new album in barn

andy irvine
Image caption Andy Irvine played songs from his new album

A barn on a County Fermanagh farm used for lambing and to store hay isn't the first place you would expect a musician to launch their new album.

But the venue made perfect sense to Irish singer and songwriter, Andy Irvine.

His career has spanned five decades, and as a member of the folk band Planxty he achieved widespread success in the 1970s alongside Christy Moore, Dónal Lunny and Liam O'Flynn.

Since then he has travelled the world, a troubadour of traditional music, playing the mandola, bouzouki and harmonica.

His new solo album, Abocurragh, reflects his globetrotting experiences.

"It was made mainly in Dublin but a lot of people were recorded in Hungary, in Norway, Australia. The album had been around the world before it came out," he said.

The album is named after a townland about eight miles from Enniskillen, although his home is actually in the adjoining townland, Ballysooragh.

"I didn't think Ballysooragh was a great name for an album," Andy explained, "so Abocurragh looked much more attractive and there's about three houses up there too."

To launch his new album, he has returned to his home on County Fermanagh.

He has shunned the glitzy hotels and city-based celebrities and chosen instead to perform in a hay shed.

The idea for the "Silo Pit Session" came from Andy's landlady Janie Crone who owns the farm with her husband John.

Image caption Andy Irvine entertained the audience on the makeshift stage in the barn

The family has been busy transforming the farmyard into Northern Ireland's newest music venue.

She said: "We would normally round bale but we've actually square baled so seating is bales of hay.

"You can see we've just used bales of hay along the back of the silo pit and covered it in black stuff to try and make it look at least more like a stage."

What will the acoustics be like in the barn which is more used to the sound of bleating lambs?

"It's a tin roof so it has been very tinny but we've had some good advice," said Mrs Crone.

"As soon as the hay came in, it acts like furnishings in a house so that kind of echo sound has gone so we're hoping for the best. We just don't need rain on the tin roof!"

The venue is perfect for Andy Irvine as it is a short walk from his house.

"Sitting on bales of hay it will be very rural and it's just next door to me, so if I get tired I can go and have a lie down between songs," he added.

Several hundred people arrived for the gig and made themselves comfortable on the bales of hay.

It was an intimate performance of songs from the new album and from Andy Irvine's 45 year musical career.

It may have been a bit cold, but the acoustics were excellent and, to Mrs Crone's relief, there was no rain falling upon the tin roof.