This much I know: Singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke

From the moment I picked up the guitar, that was it.

As a child, I had initially wanted to be an artist. My maternal grandfather was a gifted painter but when I was 13 music entered my life.

I don’t believe in fate. I think we all have free will.

The turning point came when we were living in Australia. My father is a carpenter and we moved there for his work when I was 10 until I was 14. We were visiting a family friend who was a priest in a place called Kyabram and a younger priest in the parochial house had a couple of guitars lying around the place.

I snuck away to play with one of them and as we were leaving he handed it to me and said “I think this belongs to you”. Then he taught me two chords It was literally a life-changing moment. I named my debut album Since Kyabram.

When we moved back to Ireland I started joining bands.

One of the biggest challenges I've had to face was dealing with panic attacks. I took acid a couple of times in my 20s and had a bad trip which led to me having flashbacks and then panic attacks for no reason.

One minute I’d be listening to a favourite song and then suddenly all this adrenalin would grip my body.

I didn’t deal with it well. I didn’t talk to anyone about what was happening.

Eventually, they went away. But they returned 10 years later. Luckily they never interfered with my performance. and then I discovered a book called Essential Health for Nerves by Clare Weakes which helped me understand what was happening to my body.

On stage is the place I feel most zen-like. It’s like medicine to me and totally calms me down. If I could take my attitude when I’m on stage and apply it to the rest of my life, everything would be fine.

I have this rule that whatever happens up there becomes part of the show. I don’t try and script anything, I never try to repeat anything. I simply allow things to happen.

I met my wife Eimear when she was playing cello in a band I was in. We didn’t socialise at all together until we both ended up at a friend’s wedding. She’d been asked to play and I’d been invited as a guest but hadn’t brought a plus one.

After her performance, I said, “There’s an empty seat beside me, why not stay for dinner?”

My idea of misery is having to listen to the radio all day long.

My idea of bliss is being at home in Kinvara Co Galway. with our nine-month-old baby boy.

I don’t believe in an afterlife. It helps me live each day to the fullest. Walking around the garden with our son in the evenings, I get these moments when I realise that heaven is here on earth, if you allow it to be.

If you want to be a professional anything, you have to have ambition. There are incredibly talented people out there who get nowhere and lots of ambitious people with little talent who go far.

There is nobody else that I’d like to be, not even for a day.

My biggest fault is that I am too independent. I want to do everything myself. In the past, this manifested itself in a desire to control everything artistically.

I knew what I wanted but was not very good at communicating it. I learned the hard way that it’s not enough to doggedly say ‘this is the way I want it’, like a tyrant. You need to develop better leadership qualities.

The thing that most irritates me about other people is selfishness and an inability to see the big picture. The trait I most admire in other people is the ability to make others laugh.

Declan O’Rourke has rereleased his 2004 album Since Kyabram. It’s available via the Warners store, and usual outlets. It’s also available on vinyl for the first time with new retrospective liner notes.

See www.kyabramisback.com He has also rereleased his song‘Galileo’ as a single.


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