A Question of Taste with Cormac Begley

Cormac Begley is a solo bass, baritone, treble and piccolo concertina player from a West Kerry musical family. He is one of the musicians playing at the Féile Nasc music festival at Marlay Park in Dublin on Saturday.

Other trad musicians on the bill include Steo Wall and Liam O’Connor.

Best recent book you’ve read:

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

Best recent film you’ve seen:

Camino go Sáille [The Camino Voyage documentary, featuring Cormac’s father Breanndán and three other rowers travelling from Ireland to Spain by currach].

Best recent show or gig:

Ernst Reijseger’s solo cello concert during the Spike Cello festival in the Workman’s club, Dublin.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old):

House recordings of accordion player Fiachna Ó Mongáin.

First ever piece of music that really moved you:

This is very hard to pinpoint but has to be my dad Breanndán playing around the house growing up. Beyond dad, as a teenager I was really influenced by track 5 of Mary MacNamara’s solo album Traditional Music from East Clare, where she is joined by Martin Hayes playing John Naughton’s Reel and the Reel of Birl.

The best gig you’ve ever seen (if you had to pick one!):

Aidan Connolly (fiddle) and Liam McGonigle (accordion) playing together at St Nicholas’ Church, Galway, is up there.

Tell us about your TV viewing:

I rarely watch TV anymore but when I did I used enjoy watching Father Ted, D’Unbelievables, Don’t Feed the Gondolas and any of the wind-up hidden camera series.

Radio listening and/or podcasts:

Podcasts are Éamon Dunphy’s (The Stand), Inside Politics and some of the ones by Bill Burr, Tim Ferris, and Joe Rogan. Radio programmes are Clare FM’s West Wind shows; Radió Na Gaeltachta traditional music programmes; The Rolling Wave on RTÉ Radio 1; and Donal Dineen’s programmes.

Your best celebrity encounter:

Playing a tune with Tommy ‘an Lord’ Ó Conchubhair [west Kerry accordion player].

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event — where, when, and why?

I’d love to be transported to Howlin’ Wolf’s best live performance. Why? Because he was soulful, fearless, force of nature.

You are curating your dream festival — which three artists are on the bill (living or dead)?

Paddy Canny, Joe Cooley, Nina Simone

Do you have any interesting ancestors or family?

My great grand uncle, Thomas Ó Donnell, represented West Kerry in the House of Commons, Westminster. On the 19th of February 1901 he spoke Irish for the first time in the House of Commons and subsequently became a prominent figure for the Gaelic Revival.

Unsung hero — individual or group you think don’t get the praise they deserve:

Tommy ‘an Lord’ Ó Conchubhair on accordion.

You are king for a day — what’s your first decree?

I have three:

1. Everyone has to plant three trees (i.e., native woodland trees)

2. Publishers of all types (journalists, commentators, etc) have to support each of their claims with accessible evidence, citations and references

3. Ban clapping along to Irish music!

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