This much I know: Sharon Shannon, musician

Sharon Shannon was gigging seven nights a week in Doolin when she was still only a teenager.

This much I know: Sharon Shannon, musician

Despite this, I didn’t have a clue that I would end up playing music for a living.

I come from a musical family but my parents believed that education and getting a secure pensionable job were the most important things.

The thought that you could or should make a living from doing something that was considered a hobby was out of the question.

I have my good friend Eoin O Neill to thank for encouraging me to keep on playing and not to give into the pressure to get a ‘real job’.

My earliest snippets of memory are of learning to walk. I can see my older siblings Garry and Majella and my mother with their arms outstretched encouraging me to walk towards them.

Growing up on a farm we had great freedom but I was very shy in company as a kid. And I remember my younger sister Mary and I used to hide under the table when visitors came to the house. I have a dog that does that these days!

I was always confident about playing music on stage. I started with the accordian and the fiddle. The only piece I found challenging was having to talk and turn it into ‘a show’.

With experience, I know that preparation helps. Although I still get nervous before some types of gigs and before television interviews.

The traits I most admire in others are loyalty and a sense of humour.

I don’t set time aside to create, tunes often come to me when I’m out and about, especially when I’m walking the dogs. If I come up with anything good I just sing it into the phone then and there. I used to ring my landline and record it into the answering machine!

People often say ‘you’re so lucky to be talented’ but no matter how gifted you are at something it takes thousands of hours of work if you want to succeed. If you don’t put in the hours you won’t be able to play, simple as that.

The best advice I got was from my friend Michelle Lally who advised me to always focus attention on the positive things and people around us as whatever you put your energy into, you always attract more of the same back tenfold. The same principal applies to negativity unfortunately.

My main fault is forgetfulness and scattiness and trying to do too many things all at once. I take multi tasking to a whole other level.

My idea of misery is being a butcher... or worse again having to work in a slaughter house.

When I’m not on the road, I’m a real home bird. I live in Galway and have a lot of rescue animals.

I’m passionate about creating awareness about the environmental crisis and the vegan diet.

If I could be reborn I’d love to be a bird flying freely in the sky with all my friends on a beautiful day. I dream about it even though I’m a bit scared of heights.

If money was not an issue I’d introduce everyone in the world to delicious vegan food and give money to the ‘go vegan world’ campaign. I’d abolish animal agriculture worldwide including the dog meat trade in Asia. Ban the exotic bird trade. Help the starving people of the world.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the amount of grain feed to livestock in the US alone every year could feed about 840m people, roughly 11 times the number of people who annually die of starvation worldwide.

I really like the idea of the spirit or soul being eternal. I find the notion of it very comforting and reassuring when thinking about loved ones who have passed away. I find it absolutely fascinating even though I don’t even know whether to believe it or not.

There’s so much out there in the vast universe that is a total mystery to us, so I think it would be extremely narrow-minded of us to think there’s nothing else out there besides ourselves.

So far life has taught me that hard work and dedication always pay off, but strangely, very often not always in the way that you expect.

  • Sharon Shannon’s new album ‘Sacred Earth’ is out now

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