Finbar Wright to perform in Town Hall next week

Finbar Wright will perform in the Town Hall Theatre on Saturday February 25.

Finbar Wright will perform in the Town Hall Theatre on Saturday February 25.

A classically trained tenor and one of Ireland's 'great romantic singers', Cork singer, songwriter and poet, Finbar Wright, became popular in the 90s when Ireland's showband scene had slowed down and there was more room being made for individual performers like Mary Black and Christy Moore. From his days in the priesthood to performing with Jerry Lee Lewis, Wright has plenty of stories to tell. We sat down with him for a chat ahead of his upcoming show in the Town Hall.

When did you first become interested in music?

I suppose it was kind of cast upon me by my mother. She was a great music lover and when we were very young (there were eight in the family ) she bought a piano, which was an unusual thing to do at the time. We were all encouraged to take music lessons, so I started taking lessons in piano at the age of four. My music teacher was a lovely, warm person. She instilled in me a real love of music. That's why I admire teachers around the country because I think that's the foundation of our culture. The teachers are the unsung heroes of our music. What I learned from mine at that young age stayed with me for the rest of my life.

What kind of music was being played by your mother at home?

My mother would listen to everything. Carmel Quinn was very big in Ireland at the time, she used to sing all the lovely old ballads. We listened to people like Bridie Gallagher. She was from Donegal. At the same time, it was the start of the 60s so we had The Beatles and all that sort of thing. I got a very broad schooling.

And you were a priest before you became a musician?

I was ordained at the early age of 22, which seems very young now. Essentially what I was doing was teaching for the seven years. I taught Spanish and Latin in a secondary school.

How did you move from that into music?

Music was always a very important part of my life. It was always a passion and I was always singing so it wasn't a hard transition to go from one to the other. Even as a priest, I won a lot of competitions so it was kind of a natural progression. I was adrift for about six months or so. I had different dreams about what I was going to do, like law for example. People kept asking me to sing, and then suddenly it became a living and then it became a career.

What are some of your favorite moments over the years?

I remember performing in the Cork Opera House with Jerry Lee Lewis and I don't think it gets any better than that. He was in Ireland at the time for a year or two, I think he was on the run from the taxman back in America. He and I were invited to do a Christmas TV special for RTE in the Cork Opera House. I still remember meeting him at the stage door and he was there with smoke flying out of the pipe and the hair slicked back. He gave a fabulous performance. So that was definitely a standout moment for me.

What was he like?

He was an absolute gentleman. He was calm and pleasant, he chatted away. He was like any other person you'd meet on the street, and then he went on-stage and just became the true rock and roller that he was.

What do you like doing when you're not performing?

I have a grandson, he was actually just here this morning. It's a completely new kind of thing for me! Children are amazing. It's the first time I've been able to observe a child and see how the brain teaches itself. He's eight months old now, and obviously he can't communicate verbally language but they can in other ways and it's amazing to see him learning. He's not singing just yet but he makes a lot of very high noises so it's in there somewhere.

I've always loved gardening as well. I grew up with it, my parents were very much into it. When we built our house about 25 years ago, the first thing I wanted to do was settle trees everywhere and and now I'm looking at a forest all around me. The beauty of it is that it attracts nature of all kinds. We have red squirrels, hedgehogs, and so many birds. It's fabulous.

You'll be in Galway on Saturday February 25?

Yes we will. We're having a great time on the tour and it seems to be going very well, we're getting great support. The brilliant musician Ronan Browne, who lives in Galway, will also be with us as a special guest on the night.

Finbar plays the Town Hall Theatre on Saturday February 25 at 8pm. Purchase tickets here:


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