DAMIEN DEMPSEY, one of Ireland's greatest contemporary songwriters, has announced he will play two gigs in the Róisín Dubh in 2016 - Wednesday March 16 and Thursday 17, St Patrick's Day.
Damien is currently working on his new album, provisionally titled Soul Son, which he says "will be a bit different" from his previous works. "Soul Son is about the light that shines from within," Damien told me when I interviewed him earlier this year. "They're spiritual songs about new beginnings. We've been pushed away from spirituality by the scandals in the church, by what was done in the industrial schools, by the hierarchy not letting women say Mass, or not letting priests marry.
"The Irish were always very spiritual people, going back to the Celts, the spirit of the land, the sea, the river. In these songs I'm trying to get people to believe in something, the light within; you could say they are songs about 'keeping the faith' - I don't have a name for what that faith is, but it is there, it is something."
Damien's gigs will also be ahead of many of the chief events to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising, which took place on Sunday April 23 of that year. Given the often strongly political nature of his music, it is no surprise the songwriter has a keen view on how Ireland should commemorate the rebellion.
"I'd like the Irish people to think about what the signatories to the Proclamation had in mind and what they would like to see for Ireland now," he said. "I don't think they would like to see the selling off of the country, they'd be angered by that. I don't want to see a parade and then we forget about it. We need to discuss their vision. They had a great vision."
Doors for both shows are at 8pm. Tickets go on sale on Friday via www.roisindubh.net, the Ticket Desk at OMG Zhivago, Shop Street, and The Róisín Dubh.