An Irish Music Heritage
McCormack died . Because of that this interview was a very special one
for me .
On this their most recent Australian tour the Furey brothers and
friends strengthened the ties between Ireland and Australia and united
many of the Irish who have made Australia their adopted home .
During the time the boys where here they took time to stand in the pubs
and have a jar and a chat with the people .
Just before the boys went to do their gig in Sydney's Paddys Bar they
took time out to do an interview with myself .
On a soft Monday evening at twilight by Cronulla beach in Sydney I
spoke to Eddie Furey and Derek Mc Cormack .
" Welcome back to Australia Derek and Eddie " .
" Hello son " said Eddie .
" Its great to be back said Derek .
" If I could talk first with yourself Derek about your family and
growing up as a musician . As well as your Mother being a great singer
she also played the drums ."
"It was your brother Roy who showed you the first chords on the guitar
" Indeed it was . He was a very good guitarist . Actually it was my
uncle who taught Roy the guitar and then Roy taught myself. There was
only the two of us in our family and when I was very young , Roy was on
already on the stage "
" I'd like to cast your mind back to your early childhood .
Back before there was television when the social highlight
in Ireland was the ceili dance or the sing songs in the pub ,
what would the Mc Cormack family have been doing then?"
" We learnt together new standards , and loved to play togetherat
different venues . I grew up with the showbands and when I was 18 I
joined up with Dermot O'Brien and The Clubmen "
"How could you describe the experience of being for the first time on a
world stage as a performer ?"
" It was a bit scary as I was very young and to be doing TV shows and
playing to large audiences , I found it a little awesome . But I
learned a lot back then ?"
" After 12 years in the trio with Dermot on the Cabaret circuit you
returned to the folk roots where you became the front man of the new
Barleycorn " .
" Well Paul , as you know Barleycorn had been going from about 1970 or
so and in 1982 when Brian Mc Cormack left the band to do his own thing
the lads asked me to take over ,
and I was very happy to do it " .
" Then in 1988 Barleycorn arrived in Australia for the first
" That's right I remember it well ."
Sadly Derek it was in 1995 after seven very successful albums the other
members of Barleycorn decided to go separate ways " .
" Yeah "
Since then you formed a three piece called Nickelodeon who recorded a
CD entitled Together As One .
" Two old friends of mine who I knew from years back in the showbands ,
Ronnie Kennedy and Billy Condon where both working with Daniel
O'Donnell at the time and you know Daniel would tour a lot but he'd
have a lot of time off and the same with me with the Fureys so we
thought we'd just do this thing for our own amusement really , just get
together and do a few shows and it went a lot better than we expected
We did the one CD but we couldn't keep it going because of the demands
on our other jobs with the Fureys and with Daniel we just couldn't find
the time do the stuff with Nickelodeon ,
which was a shame because it was great fun but we couldn't dedicate
enough time to it ".
One of your latest projects Derek is performing on board an Irish
cruise ship . Could you tell me a little more about that ? "
" Well for the last four years , I've gone just for eight or nine days
every January to the Carribean , theres an Irish cruise
and I've been lucky enough to be invited on it .
Its great fun because you get to meet a lot of Irish entertainers
both from Ireland and from U.S. based entertainers .
Its really a great get together ."
" Derek your latest album Never Too Far from My mind ,
is a definite rise in your career .
One of the songs among the bakers dozen is entitled
Will You Dance with Me and it was written by Maria Forde
who lives in Australia .
" Well in January on the cruise I was doing that song and it was
actually Frances Black who was there with Mary and all the brothers who
encouraged me to put the song on the album .
It wasn't on the original album , I added it on later . I went back in
and recorded that song and put it on the album "
" When you're going through the process of selecting songs for an album
, is there anything in particular that you look for
in a song ?
" Paul I'm just listening all the time for songs , basically it
have to be a song that I feel comfortable singing .
Theres no point doing stuff that just wouldn't suit my voice otherwise
I have no preconceived ideas , if I like a song I'll consider doing it
" Standing right there beside you is one of the famous furey Brothers ,
Derek . If I could have a few words with you now Eddie .
"Hello Paul . I'm like the birdman of Alcatraz with all these seagulls
around me ."
" Welcome back again to Australia . It was great to see you and the
boys on Australian TV singing Blowing In The Wind " .
"Its a great old song and Bob Dylans over here at the moment .
You know I met Bob Dylan back in 1969 with the Clancy brothers
in New York . There was only Finbar and Myself playing with the clancy
brothers in those days you know , and theres a pub in the village
The Lions Head in Sheridans Square , you know , and we all used to meet
in there with Bob Dylan ,Pete Seger , Tom Paxton , and Arlo Guthrie "
" Happy memories . "
" Theres some great memories over the years , I mean , like on
Top of the Pops in England that was a great memory .
We played Carnegie Hall about ten times , you know .
I used to share a flat with Gerry Rafferty ,and Billy Connolly in
We used to have an act called the Humble Bums in 1969 .
There was the jam sessions and all the festivals we did .
Finbar played the pipes , Gerry the Guitar , Billy the banjo ,
and I played the mandolin , you know .
At that time Finbar and myself were the only Irish people who where
playing down in the English folk clubs . We did a little work
Ewan Mc Coll , and the girls .
" Eddie you've kept the flag flying and made the Irish proud of you
As a family man though being on the road with a band is
a sacrifice not many could understand "
"Well its hard cause you're away from your family like you know .
Yea , last year like I was only home for about four months .
If we had the families over here with us travelling around it would
make a big difference , you know , but then again having Derek in the
us and big Steve , and the brothers we're all one happy family ."
"Big Steve who plays the banjo in the band , is he a Dublin man
" Yea , hes from the North side , and we're from the South side ,
you know across the Liffey . The point is you see ,
he throws the bread over to us and we butter it and throw it back to
him , you know . Ha Ha "
" You've brought so much happiness to people all around the world Eddie
If it wasn't for people like yourselves Eddie the world would be a much
poorer place . You have connected into everyone's understanding ,
the wealth of our great Irish heritage "
"Well that's the word there , the great Irish heritage .
We have it inside us , its built in to us . You have it
and no matter where you go in the world you'll always meet people who
have a great love for the Irish "
" I've heard a little about your new album giving tribute to the great
Charlie Chaplin . Is It almost ready for release ?"
" Well at the moment we've finished eight tracks on it and I was
talking to Josephine Chaplin , she phoned me up this morning
from Paris , and she has her Fathers tracks ready . Her Fathers
another eight tracks , you know . So as soon as we have a meeting with
the family in Switzerland we'll look at getting the album out ."
" Getting back to the Australian tour , tonight you're at Paddys Irish
Bar and then you'll be off to the sunny Queensland . Maybe you'll have
the time to see some of those tropical Islands up there ".
" I'd love to Paul , but I don't know if we could afford it ."
" Have you been out on a glass bottom boat yet ?"
" Yea the boys went out on one the last time you know .
They went out on this other boat that dropped the shark cage ,
they wanted me to go out but I wouldn't go out you know ."
" I've seen the movie Jaws and it put me off , Ha Ha . "
"I know you've a gig to go to Eddie , so its time we said goodbye
All the very best for the rest of the tour .
" Thanks very much Paul."
By Paul McCann- "