This much I know: Finbar Wright, musician

Finbar Wright celebrates his 60th birthday and 27 years of success in the National Concert Hall on April 30.

This much I know: Finbar Wright, musician

Loneliness drove me out of the priesthood. I am a firm believer in fate and karma. What you send out comes back.

My first memory of performing is standing on stage in Ballinspittle, age seven, with my brother Denis singing ‘The Merry Ploughboy’. My mother instructed us to sing that song.

My advice is not to imitate others. You need to become aware of your own skills and talents, particularly if you work in the arts. You study the greats, of course, but at the end of the day you need to find what is yours.

When I left school, I went into the priesthood. I was a priest for seven years.

I come from a big family of eight, and a strong local community. My parents were very proud of my being a priest, and I didn’t want to hurt them, but there came a time when I didn’t believe in a lot of what I’d been taught.

I went through a difficult period in 1987 until eventually, having given it a lot of thought, I decided to leave the priesthood.

So much hinged on this curse of respectability back then but I believe you must have the courage to do what is right for you.

Like any process, I began on my new path by putting one foot forward at a time. That’s the trick — if you can identify the path!

It took me a while to develop my own musical style. I’d been influenced by so many different styles.

My father had a great voice. He sang while he was shaving.

My early influences were his great loves, such as Mario Lanza and Bridie Gallagher. Then, church and choral music became important to me too.

Nerves are a vital part of being a performer. You never deliver the kind of inner colour and rawness of humanity that are vital to a great performance unless you have a degree of nervousness.

An audience can tell when a performer has no passion. Without passion there is no interchange between musician and performer.

My biggest challenge was losing two of my brothers at an early age. It makes you question your own life and face the fact that we know nothing.

The more you think about god and the afterlife, the more you realise how little you know. I do believe in an afterlife although the details may not be as clear as religious authorities and academics would have us believe.

If I could change one thing in our society, I’d like there to be less envy and begrudgery. I believe you should try and find contentment in your life. It doesn’t mean abandoning ambition, but finding what’s right for you.

I met my wife Angela when we were both students at The Cork School of Music. She had the lesson after mine.

I became inspired each time this beautiful girl walked through the door. We re-connected after I left the priesthood. We have two children.

My idea of misery is shopping. I’d be the worst dresser in the world if it weren’t for Angela.

If I could be someone else for a day, I’d love to experience being a Zen Buddhist.

The trait I most admire in others is generosity, not of material things, but of time and spirit.

My biggest fault is impatience. I become impatient and then I overreach myself, preparing for an event that is maybe six months down the line.

I have to force myself to relax and gardening helps. I inherited this passion from my parents. Staying close to the source of our sustenance is good for the mind, body and spirit.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was from Pavarotti, who said the most important thing is ‘to be heard’, not to worry about how good or how prepared you are. I suppose that’s why buskers busk.

So far life has taught me that even the biggest problems resolve themselves.

It is simply a matter of patience, and of time.

  • Finbar Wright celebrates his 60th birthday and 27 years of success in the National Concert Hall on April 30.

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