One of the joys of Come Here To Me to date has been interviewing people who we feel have made a real contribution to this city and its culture. We had the honour of publishing an interview with the late Philip Chevron of The Pogues and the Radiators of Space, and we’ve also discussed the city with people as diverse as the street artist Maser and inner-city historian Terry Fagan.
For us, these interviews are a means of collecting important social history from people who have proactively engaged with Dublin and who have stories to tell about the city and its people. For a long time now, I have wanted to interview Christy Moore, someone who has been a constant presence on the music circuit of the capital since releasing his first album under the stewardship of Dominic Behan in 1969. A veteran of iconic acts Planxty and Moving Hearts, Christy has also been an active campaigner in Irish political life for decades, standing beside and a wide range of causes in Irish life, ranging from the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s to the anti-drugs movement that emerged in working class Dublin thirty years ago.
Christy agreed to answer a wide variety of questions on his relationship with this city through the ages, ranging from the great venues of Dublin’s past to his encounters with people such as Seamus Ennis and Liam Weldon who are institutions in the traditional music heritage of Dublin. I hope readers enjoy it. I’ve followed the format of previous interviews here, with question in bold.
Before you we’ve spoken to Philip Chevron from Santry and Paul Cleary from Ringsend about their memories of Dublin in the decades that have passed, as a young lad from Kildare did you have much engagement with Dublin city growing up?
My earliest memories of coming to Dublin are back to the early 50s. Then I spent a lot of time with my grandparents Jack and Ellie Power who lived at Back-Weston near Lucan. Jack loved the old cowboy movies. We would go to The Carlton,The Savoy,The Metropole or to any of the fine cinemas that festooned the city centre. Back then cars could be parked on O’Connell St right outside a cinema. I recall the picture house queues, the excitement. I remember one singing busker who moved down the queue. Also a street photographer who was always snapping near The Pillar.I remember going to the Theatre Royal in Hawkins St, hearing the magic organ and seeing the Royalettes high kicking before the big picture. We always stopped on the way home at Pacitti’s Ice Cream parlour on Parkgate Street .There I had a young boy’s blushful crush on one of Mr Pacitti’s daughters. Later Jack would pull into the Ball Alley House in Lucan or The Dead-Man-Murrays in Palmerstown for a few swift pints.
My first visit to Croke Park was around this time too. The excitement of that is still palpable. The paper hats and rosettes, the Artane Boys Band, The Hawkers ( “anyone for the last few choc ices”). My grandfather was a proud Meath man. If The Royal County were playing The Dubs the pressure would mount. I remember seeing Snitchy Ferguson, Kevin Heffernan and Ollie Freaney playing for Dublin. Croke Park was an awesome spectacle for a young country lad. We always went there on Patrick’s Day to see The Railway Cup Finals. Back then those Inter-Provincial games were second only to All-Ireland Finals in terms of importance and crowd numbers.
Before he died in 1956 my father took me once to Lansdowne Road to a Rugby International. I remember seeing Gordon Woods and Tony O’Reilly play for Ireland against Wales when I was 10 years old. The atmosphere was quite different at Lansdowne Rd.You’d not find too many hip flasks nor rugs in The Cusack Stand.
Recently a box in our family attic unearthed a ticket for a Christy Moore gig in Ballyfermot from the early 80s, organised by the local folk society. Does Ballyfermot bring back any memories? I know you played there a bit, and the brilliant talent that was Liam Weldon was from there, while one of the most powerful images in your book One Voice comes from that suburb, from the day Bobby Sands passed away.
I recall a number of gigs in Ballyer. The one you mention and another one run by my sister Eilish in the Community Centre, I also recall one in The Cinema but my recall is a bit hazy on these. I well remember visiting The Keenan Family when we played together for a TV programme in The Abbey Tavern, Howth circa 1979. I also visited the home of Liam and Nellie Weldon to swap songs with Liam. Back in the early days of Ballyfermot Rock School I did a workshop and small gig there. One of the students that day was Damien Dempsey. I can still see the lovely wild head on that young fella.