Patrick M Barrett
The Panti Personals S3 E4 Arrivalists – Patrick M Barrett
Panti Bliss is in conversation with artist and musician Patrick M Barrett aka Arrivalists in this episode of The Panti Personals.
Patrick is a true Dub Dubliner and his music life has stetched across several identities from his early days in the band Ten Speed Racer ( with two of his brothers) to his collaboration with Joe Chester as The Hedge Schools but now the singer/songwriter releases his solo work under the intriguing moniker – Arrivalists.
His twitter bio says it all : ‘Sings , Writes , Cares , Kind . Not Pitch Perfect. Fond of Arriving, not so much of leaving . Kilbarrack Zen Cowboy. Travels with a Samsung & a filter.” In this episode he shares the story behind his album ‘Last of the Written Pages’, performs two songs for our Queen Panti Bliss, and talks of how his pandemic lockdown was spent in a very special way, of love and loss, caring for his elderly parents.
Navigate – Hedge Schools
At the End of a Winding Day – Hedge Schools
Lighthouse Lights Out – Hedge Schools
Magnificent Birds – Hedge Schools
Station Depart – Arrivalists
Fifteen – Ten Speed Racer
The Last Of The Written Pages – Arrivalists
Threads – Arrivalists
Little Triumphs – Arrivalists
Hello and welcome back to The Panti Personals. My guest today is a man who hails from Roddy Doyle territory, Kilbarrack on the north side of Dublin, but who has many different identities in music, first in the band marvellously called Ten Speed Racer, and then in a twosome called Hedge Schools with Joe Chester. But today, songwriter and singer Patrick M. Barrett releases his solo work under the intriguing moniker Arrivalists.
His Twitter bio says it all; Sings, Writes, Cares, Kind. Not Pitch Perfect. Fond of Arriving, not so much of leaving. Kilbarrack Zen Cowboy. Travels with a Samsung & a filter. Welcome, Patrick.
It’s always Patrick M. Barrett. What’s the M for?
The M is Dad’s name, it’s like, Michael. So. Yeah, a couple of years ago I just said I’d adopt that and yeah, it just worked for me.
You know, if I was going to give you a new band name, I’d call you Patrick. Embarrassed.
Ten Speed Racer.
Is a very fun name for a band. It also strikes me as a very Irish boy name for a band.
Yeah. There was three brothers in it, myself, Dermot and John and then Joe Chester and the great Terry Cullen on drums. We’d a couple of years at it. We got signed to a small publishing label and a small publishing house in the UK. And we’d a couple of years touring the UK, touring the West Coast, East Coast of America.
You had a few singles. You had a banger Fifteen
Fifteen by Ten Speed Racer plays.
We’d some great years. And then, like anything, I suppose life gets in the way. And then we decided to disband it, you know.
I do love the name because I can remember being in school, and we’d go he’s got a ten speed, a ten speed.
Exactly. I still have a ten speed racer. And there was a little bit of a toy in there because for years I raced bikes. And so does Joe. Joe was a passionate cyclist, you know.
I didn’t realise you raced.
Yeah, I did. Well, kind of very amateurly in a club. I still have an old steel frame bike that was made in 1968, the same year I was made. I found this bike online. There was a guy who sells steel framed Peugeot bikes in Phibsborough and he basically just restores them. And all of them would have a number underneath the frame and when you can trace back the number, the bike was made in 1968. Same year I was.
What month are you?
Oh I’m November. I’m younger than you, bitch.
Let it be told.
It’s also interesting that you had three brothers in the band.
You were always matey.
Absolutely. And people used to always ask us that, was there any fraction? I think because we grew up together and we spent all our lives together and, you know, I’m still blessed with a beautiful relationship with two of them.
And the three of you were big into music.
Yes, absolutely. Although our teenage years in terms of the music geography would have been different, whereas I was listening to The Smiths and Joy Division, the two lads were listening to Iron Maiden records, you know. But yeah, they’re scattered different corners of the world these days and have been for years. Dermot is in Norway and John is in Australia, but I still have, as a family I think we’re blessed with a beautiful connection with each other, you know.
Was it a super musiciany family, because your sister Bernadette manages Lisa Hannigan, so also in the music biz?
Yeah, she managed Lisa for years and she was managing Damien Rice for years. And she’s always been in and out of the kind of David Gray projects down the years. And. Yeah. An extremely successful female, you know. And I love my sister to bits. She carved a career for herself, by going to London when she was 21 years of age and succeeded over there. To step out of Ireland, which can be a little bit small in terms of the music circle, but she’s traveled the world, made a beautiful career for herself. And she’s drifting away from that now, going into kind of life coaching and stuff.
And was all this music stuff coming from your parents?
Yes, primarily. My mam would have been classically trained as a singer, was involved in musical societies when we grew up, when we kind of hit our teenage years and were able to kind of feed ourselves. Mam drifted back into something which she was passionate about, which was music, you know. And dad would have a love of traditional music, but necessarily wouldn’t, he couldn’t sing or dance to save his life, you know. Yeah so it all comes from mam, really.
Yeah. It is amazing. The more musicians that I meet it nearly always starts in the family somewhere.
Yeah, it does. You used to start on the Sunday morning. There was an old kind of gramophone box and dad would flip up the lid. It was one of those that had the speaker in the lid. And the Planxty records would come on on a Sunday morning, and it was the house, we were surrounded by music in the house. So I think the drift into it as a family, it just kind of happened naturally. But as parents, they never said no or they never stopped us doing it, which is a beautiful gift to give us that absolute freedom to go and do whatever we felt we wanted to do.
Your parents, in a way, have played sort of an outsized role in your life in the last few years as well.
Yeah, exactly. I spent the last two years of Covid, basically home caring for the two of them because, you know, they are of that generation. Like dad is, he’ll be 97 in November and mam would have been 90 in April, my mam passed away in January just gone. I just kind of had to do it, you know, they’d given up so much of their own lives to bring up four kids, you know, and the struggles that that brings in the 1980s and the 1990s on the North side of Dublin, you know, working class. But my mother just did it with a grace and with a humility and the kindness that she gave to the four of us. And for me to be able to kind of step off the wheel for two years and look after them and then try and navigate old age for them because we live in a country, unfortunately, where in terms of navigating the final years, it’s just not a thing that old people are able to do anymore. They’ve been marginalised in terms of kind of systems, in terms of utilities, in terms of being able to do things for themselves. They can’t do it anymore. And for so many if they don’t have a voice or if they don’t have somebody doing it for them, it’s such an absolute minefield. And so many are forgotten, you know.
Yeah. You know, I’m very keenly aware of all that stuff at the moment because my own parents are elderly now. And I’m very lucky in the sense that I have four siblings all within a couple of miles of my parents, so they’re very well looked after. But I’m also very conscious of how much those four siblings do. And so when I go down as much as it is to see my parents and all that, it’s also to give my siblings a break. Not that anybody ever complains, but it’s a lot. And you’re right, so much of it is taken up with the kind of boring like the banking and paying the bills and everything and the computer and having to do it all online.
Like as a society, we’ve done nothing to help them, you know. We’ve just marginalized them to a point. And my old man, he still goes down to the Bank of Ireland in Raheny Village every Friday with his lodgement slip or with his withdrawal slip and he refuses. And I think he’s probably the only person who goes in and out of the bank in Raheny who they actually deal with. He just refuses to go to the machines. So he has his lodgement slips in a little press in the kitchen, fills them out every Friday morning, gets a lift down and goes in and withdraws his cash and will not do it any other way.
And you know, if he lived in a small town like my parents, that wouldn’t even be an option. The banks are all gone.
Yeah. It’s funny because I played in Kikenny last weekend and myself and Lisa O’Neill, Lisa was playing as well. And Lisa, we were on the way back up on the train and she was saying exactly the same thing. If you refuse to get involved, if as a person you refuse to engage online, they don’t want to know you. And it’s such a pity, really it is. I suppose somebody said it to me there recently. For the last two years, I’ve just done a kind of gentle trespass into mam and dad’s life and kind of just being around them, I’ve written songs about them and taken photographs of the two of them and just shared whatever goes on every day and the struggles that they have and the struggles that I had in terms of the triggers of going back to look after two parents. You know, we were talking about it earlier on it’s in the old family home, very much so it automatically triggers memories for you as a child or as a person. So you’re going back and you’re having conversations with eight year old self and you’re going, okay. So much of the last two years, again, was me putting in the work, being able to kind of put up my own hand and go, look, I need a bit of help here, and I got some help from an amazing counselor.
But to be able to sit with yourself and have those conversations with your six year old self or seven year old self and go, we did all right here. You know, like I’m 53 years of age now, but I can still sit with that person in the room and go, yeah, we’re all right here.
It’s also there’s a sort of a psychological hurdle you have to get over or pass as the roles are reversing and these people that looked after you for so long and now you’re in the looking after. There’s something about that. It’s something you have to grapple with for a bit
Yeah, absolutely. I often wondered what happened with their parents. Who looked after their parents. So was that a generational thing where essentially those people probably just died at home and it was never a case of having to put people into nursing homes. And we are of that generation who are parenting their parents. That’s what we’re doing. It’s been tough for so many months, and you get great days and then you get bad days, but then you need to kind of go, right, okay, I need to do some work on myself and look after myself. But I’ve been blessed with beautiful people around me all my life, and to this day, it’s still the same. So you kind of know where to reach out or who to reach to or people will reach into you, you know, so.
You sort of set that up in the context of the pandemic. But am I right in thinking you’d actually moved back to look after them before the pandemic.
Yes. Just before it. I was in Kilkenny for a couple of years, and I’d come out of a relationship and I just needed to do some work on myself. And kind of going home to the home place was just the easy option, what with the housing situation here in the city it was just, it wasn’t an option. So I went back there and then the pandemic hit, and then all of a sudden we’re in the middle of it. And I’m never going to regret it. I’m never going to regret the last two years, you know. I’ll have chalked it down. And when dad has gone, God forbid, I’ll be able to walk away from it and go, yeah, I did everything I could for them. Or we did everything we could for them as a family, even though the lads are remotely, Dermot is actually home for a couple of days from Norway at the moment simply to give me just a bit of air for a couple of days. And like, it’s greatly appreciated, because he has three kids.
But I’m also sure that he, like me and my siblings, appreciates having you there.
Yeah, very much so. That’s the thing about it, see, I volunteered for it. I kind of knew what I was getting myself into. Little knowing the kind of struggles that you might meet or the speed bumps you’d meet along the way. But I owed it to them, you know. Mam particularly, because she was just, everything I am as a human from the tip of my toe to the top of my head is elements of her.
What was her name?
Marie. Marie Therese Barrett.
Yeah. From Croydon Green in Fairview. The most beautiful soul. She’s seven sisters. There’s only two of them left now still. But to have gone through her entire life and I know for a fact that not one person would say anything unkind about her or she never said anything unkind about anybody else. And that’s a treasure to leave in any will. It’s not ever about money or whatever you leave behind. She’d left behind four kids who all stand up in their own skin every day and, you know, we’re the fragments of her.
I watched, it’s on YouTube or whatever, a performance of yours from the living room. And in it you have this beautiful metaphor about carers.
Covid meant home caring for my parents. And up and down the length and breadth of this country are unlit lighthouses of people who have home cared throughout the entire pandemic and beyond.
Unlit lighthouses. Explain that to me.
I did that with my great friend Ruth Medjber. The beautiful Ruth.
Who we’ve had on here as well.
Yeah, exactly. It’s probably 20 odd years, but we did that as part of the Patrick’s Day Festival. And I think it was so much of what goes on around the country in terms of people who care for people goes unnoticed, goes unwarranted. And people just do what they do every day of the week, you know. And let it be known that if you’re on a carer’s allowance, which is what I’m on, it is not a lot of money. It’s not a living wage. It’s less than a living wage. And, you know, for me to be able to sit in that room and to be able to sing a few songs and for it to matter to a few people, it should be heralded more. People who care, whether it’s for people or children with intellectual disabilities or for elderly parents. People who light up other people’s lives, simply because they want to, you know.
Station Depart by Arrivalists plays.
You sort of in some ways documented this relationship of labour to your parents in the last album.
Tell me about that.
Yeah. Last of the Written Pages is the title of the record, and they are the last of the written pages, you know, a generation who didn’t use email or don’t know how to text on a phone. Like we stumbled upon loads and loads of Mam’s letters. Letters to mam or letters to dad and photographs, they’re all about, they are that generation who have boxes, shoe boxes of amazing black and white photographs, letters. And the last of the written pages for me, the two of them are the last of the written pages for my generation, for the Barrett family. After that, after mam and dad are gone, there’s just the four of us, and we know how to navigate the world, but they didn’t know how to navigate the world that they found themselves living in.
Last of the Written Pages by Arrivalists plays.
Every single song on the record is about either one or the other or me going back and trying to find my own space within the environment of it again.
Last of the Written Pages by Arrivalists plays.
So much of that will be lost, I think. Shoe boxes underneath people’s beds where incredible memories of, you know. And when mam died, I found an old brown leather music case, which was just incredible, and opened it up on the sheet music to Panis Angelicus, Ave Maria, all that sort of stuff. And like, dated from 1932, 1934.
Notes that she’d written on it, you know. And it’s incredible when you try and think, if my mother didn’t meet my father, how different her life would have been. Without four kids would she have carried on singing. She was an incredible singer. And two weeks ago, we discovered a cassette of mam singing with the Garda band. She used to go down and do volunteer work with the Vincent DePaul, and they’d put on the entertainment for the night. But we found this incredible recording of mam singing Danny Boy being backed by the Garda band. And I have never in my life heard anything like it.
Danny Boy by Marie Therese Barrett plays.
To be able to hold on to things like that. It’s on a cassette. It’s not on a hard drive. It’s like a cassette, it’s on a letter, it’s on a piece of paper, it’s on a photograph. They are the last of the written pages.
Danny Boy by Marie Therese Barrett plays.
You’re going to do a couple of songs for us today and the first one, Little Triumphs, is about your mam.
Talk to me a little about it.
Mam used to ride a green Raleigh Triumph bicycle and to anybody who might have to google them to kind of remember what they look like. But they were.
I remember them well.
They were an incredible machine, and it was just them.
You didn’t see many women riding them.
Yeah. Mam used to ride one, and she had a basket on the front and one of the little carriers, or as we used to call them on the north side, a backer for people sitting on the back. And it was green and I had white emblazoned Triumph 20 on it. And I had white handlebars.
And that kind of long Saddle.
Yes. And I remember I was out running on Bull Island one day, during the pandemic, and down at the Happy Out end of it, down where the coffee shop is, down by the wooden bridge, I came across a green Raleigh Triumph bicycle locked to the bike locks down there. Absolutely inch from top to toe, the exact same as mam’s. A replica of it. And it just got me thinking, she used to use the bike cycling in and out to a kind of evening job. Wages were never really, there wasn’t a normal kind of pattern of wages when we were growing up and working class family. So Mam used to kind of cover it with an evening job. But she used to use that green Raleigh Triumph to cycle in and out to work in the evenings after we’d come home from school. And so the song basically is, we are four, which is myself and the three siblings, and we are her Little Triumphs. So that’s what the song is about. Yeah.
Well, let’s hear
Arrivalists performs Little Triumphs.
Gorgeous. Really beautiful.
I do have a lovely image of Marie Therese and her Triumph now. You’re Kilbarrack born and bred. You still sound like you’re Dublin born and bred, all of that. But you did abandon the city for the bright lights of Kilkenny for a while.
Talk to me about the move, because Kilkenny is a very different town than Kilbarrack.
Yeah. I mean, myself and Joe had put out the second Hedge Schools record, At the End of a Winding Day.
At the End of a Winding Day by Hedge Schools plays.
And David Grady, great friend of mine, put me in touch with Willie Meighan, who used to run Rollercoaster records in Kilkenny. And Willie fell in love with the record and I sent him down a couple of copies on the proviso that I’ve never been one for kind of championing my own self or trying to make a few quid or whatever. It’s always mattered to me that the art matters more. So I sent ten down. I had a handmade version of the record and I sent ten down to Willie and I told them to sell them at 20 quid each and for the money to go to the Good Shepherd Center in Kilkenny, which looks after the homeless, and so Willie, of course, did that. And then we struck up this relationship, being able to kind of talk to the man. And then he asked me to get down to Kilkenny to do a show in Kilkenny. And yeah, if you get the Willie Meighan or if you got the Willie Meighan thumbs up or seel of approval into Kilkenny, you just took it.
At the End of a Winding Day by Hedge Schools plays.
He was a sort of legendary figure in the Kilkenny music scene.
Yeah. Everything that happens to Willie Meighan was involved in it and such a beautiful, beautiful man. And he’s greatly missed. I miss the man so much.
He only passed away fairly recently.
He did. And he’s missed by a lot of people down there. And it’s the smallest little space in Kilkenny, the shop, you know, but the biggest of hearts used to run it. And you’d walk into it and the counter would be at the front and all you’d see is his little kind of bald head up over the top of the laptop. And like, if he went in there without coffee for Willie, he just knew, there was a look over the laptop. And you always knew that if Willie Meighan welcomed you into Kilkenny the job was done, you know. So I went down and lived there for a few years, and I was only down recently again to play St. Canice Cathedral for the Ukrainian benefit. But it’s a beautiful city. There’s some wonderful humans living in it, you know, and everything revolves through Rollercoaster’s. Through those beautiful people.
It’s funny that that story is all about a record shop because you used to manage an HMV or something.
Yeah. I was a, what they would call a buyer. I was a music buyer for HMV for 14 years.
Yeah. So I walk in Grafton Street and then Henry Street, and they paid me a wage to buy records.
Perfect job for you.
Exactly. It was at the time. And I always say that if HMV was still trading on the high street in Ireland, I’d still be working for them.
Record stores sadly missed.
Yes. What’s going on in the high street at the moment is right. Because like little small shops that are actually still making a living are what it should always have been about, like Steamboat in Limerick, Music Zone in Cork, Rollercoaster in Kilkenny, Spindizzy and the lads here, you know. Yeah. It works when it’s small and when it’s intimate and when there’s a personal relationship with whoever’s behind the counter. That was what always worked, you know.
And those smaller shops kind of reflect the musical passions of the people who own them and run them.
Yeah. 100%. You can learn to trust those people and trust what it is they’re talking to you about. I suppose it’s like knowing you have a good coffee shop, you’ll always go in if you get a good cup of coffee somewhere, you’ll go, right, I’ll keep going back there. And the smaller it is for me, it’s always been about intimate personal contact. If you know somebody’s name. It’s funny, I was in the post office in Kilbarrack Shopping Centre last week and I stood there and I’m hyper-observant in the last two years just watching the simple things around me. And there was a woman in front of me buying, she was buying an envelope, but she knew Linda behind the counter. She was able to tell Linda that this is for my glasses. I’m getting new glasses, Linda. How was your Easter, Linda, you know, that beautiful connection that we’ve lost. I just hope we don’t lose it to a point, you know. And this city has just been engulfed by offices and by things that don’t matter anymore.
I actually wanted to talk to you about that because I had read on your Twitter some things about the city and that, and obviously I have a pub on Capel Street, so I would sing the praises of Capel Street, but I really do. Part of what’s so wonderful about Capel Street is apart from the bank and the Spar, everything else is an independently owned business on that whole street. They are the only chains on it, the bank and the Spar. And the length and breadth of that street, you can live on Capel Street and never leave it. If you want anything from a rubber stamp to a chair to a nurse’s uniform to a dildo, you can get them all on Capel Street, you know.
I love that about it. And to me, that’s what a high street should be. And it could do with a record store.
It probably could, yeah. Without a shadow. I only tweeted about this the other day, and I was coming in on the Luas, I was coming in from Ranelagh. And when you’re getting off the Luas at Grafton over the tannoy of the Luas it basically says Grafton Street, for the Grafton shopping district. Comes out over to PA on the Luas. And it irks me every time I get off the Luas there. I’m going, Stephen’s Green is there. The Iveagh Gardens is there. The Natural History Museum is down there. The National Gallery is there. It’s the same when you come to, when you get off the Luas in Parnell Street, the Hugh Lane is up there, the James Joyce Centre. Why do we not talk about the culture of the city anymore? It’s become blatantly obvious that it’s not about commerce anymore, because when you walk down, Grafton street, half of the units are empty. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, half the units are empty. You and I both know why that’s the case because you’re coming from that background of that amazing street that you have your place on. And as you say, it’s a community.
It’s an absolute community. And going back to that woman in front of me in the post office and Linda behind the counter. She was able to relate to Linda because Linda talks to her, and that’s about connection.
Yeah. I’ve had sort of conversations with a number of people who’ve been guests here because I think artists see, are at the cold face of this change in the city because it’s becoming harder and harder for artists to find space to do their thing, to make a living wage out of their thing, because they’ve been so pushed to the margins. And again, Capel Street is a pretty good example because directly opposite Panti Bar, there’s been an empty lot across from us. And now a hotel has been given planning permission. And within 300 meters of us, there are five new hotels being constructed or just finished. And the one on Capel Street will really be only the second building in the whole length of the street that isn’t, you know, original to the street.
It makes me worry now is even Capel Street going to feel that.
Yeah. The pinch. And I only noticed it yesterday, in so many of those office buildings that are being put up, like are there tenants going into them, or are we just building buildings for the sake of it?
Because the migration from people working in offices in the city centre across the pandemic to back to work in the home again. So half the office blocks in the city are half empty again. And then we’re still putting up more offices.
Yeah. And on Capel Street too, what people don’t often realise is there are so many other small businesses on the first floors of all the buildings. A lot of graphic designers and these kind of things. So Capel Street is one of the last places in the city centre that those people can find spaces to do that thing.
Yes, it is. The great Frank Tate who looks after so many of our guitars. Frank is down the far end, the old kind of end of Capel Street. And as you said, up above these kind of windy stairs into this workshop, which is laden with sawdust and wood and varnish and it’s just incredible.
Let’s go back to the music for a little bit. Talk to me about Hedge Schools. I’ve read a few interviews with you talking about the Hedge Schools stuff, with Chester. And I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but the kind of love and mutual respect that you guys have for each other comes across almost like lovers.
Lighthouse Lights Out by Hedge Schools plays.
Joe Chester is one of the finest producers in this country, being perfectly honest. And he lives in Rennes in France these days, he moved, himself and Julie his wife. But we spent 20 odd years in a band together, you know, and for me to be able to, when Ten Speed Racer split up, I kind of had a few songs kind of in the back pocket, and I was kind of going, okay, well, what am I going to do with these, well, no better person to work with, because I know the man 20 odd years, you know. And I’ve tried to live a life where that shred of friendship with people remains strong and it’s never broken. And with him, it was always that way as well. It was like the man stood at the end of my hospital bed when I was really sick a couple of years ago. And it’s like that’s the sort of friendship, quite apart from the music end of it. So for me to be able to sit at the back of a studio room with him play him a song and trust him. We meet each other halfway. We always met each other halfway in the room.
And I was always able to kind of listen to him or critically take on what he would say about whatever it was that I was trying to do. And that takes, there’s an incredible trust, I think, in each other, you know.
Lighthouse Lights Out by Hedge Schools plays.
That’s very clear reading both of you talk about each other. Yeah.
Yeah. And there’s a connection, I think, with music, when you’re making music with people, you know, there has to be a connection there, you know, because if there’s one element of it that’s not necessarily, you know, tied in with whatever is going on, it becomes frayed, you know. But, yeah, God, he’s an incredible, incredible producer. But more and above that, a beautiful, beautiful friend of mine.
Lighthouse Lights Out by Hedge Schools plays.
There’s a bird thing in your work and in Hedge School’s work and it’s funny, Adrian Crowley, we had him in here and he has a thing about birds, too. So tell me your bird thing.
It’s just, I just think they have the most beautiful freedom. I mean, Kilbarrack, obviously, being where it is I’m 15 minutes, ten minutes on the bike away from the North Bull Wall down to Dollymount. So I spent the last two years running on the beach or walking on the beach. And the wildlife that is down there, obviously, it’s a nature reserve, but for the first lockdown, as we call it now, that was my favourite lockdown I have to say. It was my favourite lockdown.
But Dublin City Council or the people who look after the beach, and they put up signs and pictures of birds that had come back to nest on the Bull Wall because the place was so quiet, because there was no traffic going down to it, because they had been cordoned off. And it was like everybody’s in their 2 mile radius. And there was birds, or species of birds that hadn’t come back to the island for ten years.
Magnificent Birds by Hedge Schools plays.
I didn’t realize that.
Yeah. Back nesting. And they deliberately, and it was a gorgeous thing to do, because they basically put up signs going look this bird hasn’t been here for ten years, and it’s back nesting and it’s in the sand dunes, please respect it. And when you get down there every day of the week, you just see different species, whether the herons or whether it’s, you know, there’s hawks down there. And to watch a hawk hovering over prey down on Bull Island, it’s the most beautiful thing. They have a freedom. They can be anywhere. They can be wherever they want to be.
Magnificent Birds by Hedge Schools plays.
But, like, if we weren’t here, they wouldn’t miss us.
They wouldn’t. Birds wouldn’t miss us.
You know, if we weren’t here, if humans weren’t here.
Whereas dogs would miss us.
Yeah, they would.
Cats wouldn’t either.
Cats wouldn’t, no, no.
You’re going to do a second song for us?
Yeah. It’s that funny thing, dad, he’s from North County Dublin and like farming background and a small little townland called Skidoo. I’ve always been fascinated by the name, called Skidoo.
Yeah. Double O. And it’s a small town in north county Dublin.
Near Balbriggan or something?
Near Ballyboughal. Do you know, Ballyboughal?
Skidoo. How did I not know that there’s a town in Ireland called Skidoo?
So he’s a simple man and he would come in and out of town on Christmas Eve and we would go into Winds Hotel and he would buy himself a hat and Clerys and that was it. That was his trip for the year. And that would happen every Christmas Eve. And during the first lockdown, I had to bring him across to James’s, to a hospital appointment. And he was in the back of the cab and, you know, his eyes were just basically like dancing because he hadn’t been in the city for so many years, you know, I didn’t notice it so much going up the Quays, but when we were coming back from James’s, this beautiful Polish lad picked us up in James’s and he brought us down the North Quays when we were coming down and I asked him would he pull in in O’Connell street. And he did. And I took Dad out of the back of the cab and we stood on O’Connell street for a couple of minutes. And Threads is basically for me, the opening line of it is, we’re standing in the middle of the last time, because it might be the last time that dad sees the city centre.
And when we got home to Kilbarrack, I took dad out of the cab and the taxi driver asked me why I’d done it. And I was telling him and he just waived the fair away. He said, no fair. The most beautiful man. I never even got his name. But Treads is basically about that. About being able to kind of just let, lifting the weight of his life off his bones and just, you know, letting him go. So that’s what it’s about.
Lovely. Let’s hear it.
Arrivalists performs Threads.
It’s a beautiful story.
True story. Yeah, it’s mad. And your man I never to this day, he didn’t understand what I was doing, so he pulled in at the side of the GPO and we got out for a couple of minutes. And the development that was going on at Clerys where my dad used to buy his hat we were just looking over at that for a couple of minutes.
I mean, we’ve been talking a lot about your parents, but you’re a dad yourself.
And you and her mother split up at one time, and that’s when you moved to Kilkenny for a while and now you’re back in Dublin. I don’t know, does having your own child make you see your relationship with your parents now differently?
It does, yeah. I think you’re very careful of what you would consider to be mistakes that were made when you were being brought up, you know. So I think certainly from a point of view of being in touch with emotions and stuff, mam would have given us all that, you know. So I think our generation are very much whether we’re bringing up kids, we’re very much in touch with letting kids actually be heard and feel things and see things. And, you know, whereas years ago, we were probably taught the four of us, you know, to be seen and not heard. And that was because of the generation that mam would have came from as well, you know.
But your parents were actually pretty open about you showing your emotion and all that.
Yeah. Mam would have been whereas dad would have been, he probably would have, he probably would have left the room, you know. And would still, you know, find it very hard to talk about things of the heart. Matters of the heart. Yeah. Whereas with mam, God, she wore it on her sleeve. And I think the four of us wear it on our sleeves as well. So I think in terms of bringing up children, they should see everything. They should feel everything. You should talk to them about things, you know, it shouldn’t be hidden away, you know.
Navigate by Hedge Schools plays.
It’s funny, because one of the people, you know, when we’ve been talking about you behind your back, one of the people that has come up in conversation a bit because we sort of see some similarities, even though musically it’s not obvious, really, but it’s Damo Dempsey.
Ah Yeah. God bless the man.
You have a similar background, similar part of town, all of that. And Damo has also sort of been very open about his own struggles and mental health stuff and dealing with feelings and all of that. So you kind of have that in common. You’re both very.
Yeah. God, I know Damo 20 years. Such a beautiful man.
You know, and we would have started kind of, let’s say, pencilling, the trade of writing songs upstairs in the International with Dave Murphy. And Damo would come up and you’d have notebooks, and everybody was allowed two songs. And whether it was Mundy or Glen or Damo, it was a tribe of us. And then all of a sudden then I found out that Damo lived across the green in Donaghmede. So I’ve had many a session, an early morning session sitting at the piano and his Ma was getting up for work and we were only after coming in. Yeah he’s an earth brother that man without a doubt.
You haven’t gotten into the nude yoga in the garden like he has?
No, I haven’t God no. I don’t think the garden would be able for that to be fair.
You know, we sort of touched on how the city has changed and everything. But there is a struggle, I think, for artists, musicians to sort of remain in the game because it is such a struggle. And although the country on paper is always celebrating our artists, it actually does very little to support them.
You see that’s the thing. I never knew there was a game and I’ve had a career of like I’ve released four records across the last 10 to 12 years. Every one of those records has been personally financed. I’ve never applied for a grant because whatever, that’s never going to happen. So I don’t know whether I’m considering, when we talk about the game, I don’t know whether I consider myself part of the game. I dip in and out, you know. I’m on the subs bench, let’s put it that way. And occasionally I tag out and I’ll go out on the pitch and I’ll sing a few songs and then I got back onto the subs bench, but I financed the four records by having jobs, by having HMV jobs. But I don’t see myself as part of the game. And it’s a funny one because if I thought for one minute that I could actually make a living doing it. well then I might try, but I don’t think I could. I actually don’t think I could.
I don’t think I’m being flippant about it, I just actually couldn’t make a living doing it, you know. But yet the monkey is always there. It’s on your shoulders going, okay, you need to write or you need to do something.
I deliberately haven’t, since my passed in January, I deliberately haven’t switched on the computer and I switched it on for the first time last week just to try and work, you know. But I don’t know what that’s going to be.
Why do you say you deliberately haven’t turned it on?
Because I was going through so much. Going through so much. And you kind of have to give yourself time to grieve, I think, in a situation like that. Yeah. My partner at the moment, Lousie, just wrapped around me for the last, I’d say two or three months. And, you know, I can’t be more thankful or grateful for people who’ve been in my life for the last six weeks. But I couldn’t switch on the computer because I don’t know how to start. And Louise bought me this beautiful, like, fabric-bound notebook last week, which basically is, okay, I’m going to start working again, which means I’ll start working again, you know. But am I in the game? Well, I don’t know. I really don’t.
You know. And I’m quite happy not to be. I’m a huge fan of the genius that is Pat Ingoldsby. And Pat Ingoldsby’s work just follows me everywhere. I’ve the books stacked from floor to ceiling at home, all his work. And he would be of the same ilk. If somebody asked him was he an artist or why does he do it? He just writes because he just does.
It’s lovely to see in the last few years Pat getting a lot of the respect he deserves.
He did it because he loves it.
And he can’t do anything else.
Exactly. Yeah, can’t do anything else.
And nobody ever went into poetry for the sex and rock ‘n’ roll.
Patrick it’s been absolutely lovely, a pleasure. Thank you so much.
Patrick, Pat, Arrivalists, Hedge School, Kilbarrack Zen Master. Thanks so much. It’s been absolutely lovely having you and I look forward to whatever you decide to do next.
Kilbarrack Zen Master.
That yeah somebody, Bren Berry called me that and I was kinda going I like that Bren, can I use it. And he was going yeah course you can. Thank you for that.
Thanks a million. That was lovely.
It was glorious. Thank you.