From the Plain of the Yew Tree: The Lifetime Journey of a County Mayo Musician – John Hoban -2010.

From the Plain of the Yew Tree provides 151 pages of pure goodness and an insight to a young man and his musical career. This is the amazing story of a musician, a Castlebar man, from the Westport Road who brings us down into his father’s shop, Christy Hoban’s in Castle Lane.

My earliest memory of John was as a little round faced blond haired boy, at his father’s shop. His father would wear a white shop coat and have a cigarette in his mouth, standing in the shop door, looking out on the street, in my eyes a frail looking man. It would intrigue me to look at him using a hand machine, cutting the ham into thin slices.

When I look at the cover of the book you can see that John Hoban did not glorify himself by looking at the lens of the camera. It was more important for him that you could see the musical instrument he was playing, I would refer to him as the music man with his international big heart of the world. It is an absolute pleasure to have read his book - to understand the stories that he has told the reader of his life’s experience and how he could speak the universal language to all who came his way through his great talent of music, poetry, and songs.

What I really enjoyed about his book and his writings was the way he explained how each poem and song came into being. John brings you through the streets of Castlebar as a child, then through the streets of Sligo and Galway, under bridges, and introduces you to his school days in Tuam’s St Jarlath’s and explains his journey to Dublin at the age of 16 and shortly afterwards to London.

John travelled widely in Africa, America, South America, Canada, Australia, and all over Europe and spoke the universal language of music wherever he went. If you are in need of an uplift or inspiration I strongly recommend you buy the book or as a present - 151 pages of total honestly goodness and generosity of oneself.

by Ernie Sweeney, friend of the author.



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