This much I know: John Spillane, Singer Songwriter

I never dreamed that I could be anything as fabulous as a performer. It was beyond my wildest dreams.

This much I know: John Spillane, Singer Songwriter

I had choices of course. Sometimes I would choose the yellow Snack and sometimes I would choose the pink Snack.

I’m not from a musical background but I have always loved singing and music and listening to records and I especially enjoy playing the guitar.

I was a shy child.

My earliest memory of music is from when I was a small baby crawling around on the rug. I looked up into the sky and saw a giant towering over me playing a piano accordion. He was a lodger we had in our house called Michael O’Brien.

My work is not separate from my life. I live away and I work away and so I do not worry the slightest about having to achieve any kind of work and life balance.

I’m not very disciplined. I am just tippin’ away like a mini-digger, chippin’ away at the old block, draggin’ the divil by the tail.

The best advice I ever received was that with patience and perseverance you could bring a donkey from Kinsale to Jerusalem.

The trait I most admire in other people is loyalty.

My idea of happiness is gratitude. Composition. Family. Laughter. Fun. Love. Forgiveness. Inspiration.

My idea of misery is resentment. Anger. Jealousy.

If money was not an issue, I would go to the Istanbul on Oliver Plunkett Street and have a grilled lamb kebab.

I don’t have any greatest achievement of which I am aware. I did win a medal for hurling one time however. It was an under-eight medal for hurling for Wilton in the street leagues, around 1969.

If I could change one thing in Irish society, it would be the dissolution of the religious divide between Catholic and Protestant, north and south, man and woman.

I am a big admirer of John Hume. He tried his best to bring Catholic and Protestant together under the one roof, and to forge peace between opposing factions.

Many hundreds of thousands of Catholics and Protestants have died in the religious wars that have ravaged Europe since the Reformation, and that still continues on our island, and all in the name of religion.

One thing that I didn’t learn in school, which would have been useful for me, was how to read and write music.

My greatest fear is fear.

Every now and again, once in a blue moon, a Fry’s Chocolate Cream is my greatest extravagance.

I would most like to live in the place where I live, in Passage West, County Cork, and the big old River Lee flowing past my front door, heading for the great sea.

She has come a long way from Guagán Barra Lake now and is just around the corner from her total absorption into the mighty ocean.

My most treasured possession is my Spanish guitar, a Cabballero by Rodruigez, Guitarra de Artisania, Almansa, Espana.

My favorite fictional character is The Little Prince who was invented by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

The trait I most deplore in others is superiority.

My current state of mind is pretty good. I’ve just done a massive amount of work, so the work satisfaction rate is good.

I’ve done a full week workshopping my opera Fíoruisce - The Legend of the Lough, with singers and musicians and have been up late composing scenes and melodies.

I’ve just had a great visit to the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival, and am preparing to head off to County Laois for a few days to teach some Irish songs in schools.

I have a new series running on TG4 called Na Bailéid of which I’m proud, and my first book is being launched on October 14, called Will We Be Brilliant Or What? - Songs and Stories, so it’s a busy, busy time.

The biggest challenge in life so far has been remaining calm.

So far life taught me to remain calm.

Don’t panic. Don’t worry. Be happy.

  • Will We Be Brilliant or What? Songs and Stories by John Spillane, foreword by Christy Moore, is published in hardback by The Collins Press, price €16.99. 

More in this section

Send a special message, and a
festive Irish Examiner eCard, to the people you love this Christmas. 

Send Here

In the Kitchen with

ieFoodLogo   Video Series

Join Darina Allen for Stir It Up Sunday and cook along with her as she makes her mother’s plum pudding recipe. She also makes Mrs Hanrahan’s sauce - a recipe that is so delicious that Darina says people ask for more plum pudding just so they can have more sauce!

Join Darina Allen as she makes her mother's plum pudding with Mrs Hanrahan's sauce.

Watch Here
Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.


The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up