A question of taste - Mike Hanrahan

Ennis-born songwriter and guitarist Mike Hanrahan has played with many of Ireland’s leading artists, but is best known for his work with Stockton’s Wing. Formed in 1977, the band will be headlining the Sunday of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown Racecourse on Feb 4.

By Des O’Driscoll

Ennis-born songwriter and guitarist Mike Hanrahan has played with many of Ireland’s leading artists, but is best known for his work with Stockton’s Wing. Formed in 1977, the band will be headlining the Sunday of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown Racecourse on Feb 4.

Hanrahan is also a Ballymaloe-trained cook. “I have worked in lots of kitchens most notably with my great pal Pat Shortt at his pub in Castlemartyr, Co Cork,” he says.

The best recent book you’ve read:

I usually have about four open at all different locations. Just finished Honey from a Weed, by Patience Gray for the third time. I’m nearly finished The Irish War of Independence by Michael Hopkinson.

Best recent film:

I watched Spotlight on Netflix recently. Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo.

Best recent show/gig you’ve seen:

I went to see Aslan at the Olympia. One of my favourite bands. Great guys who still entertain.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old): Declan O’Rourke’s Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine is in my opinion one of the greatest and most beautiful collections of songs I have ever heard. He writes with such graceful dedication and empathy for the lives of ordinary Irish people during a very dark period of Irish history.

First ever piece of music or art that really moved you:

‘Sisters of Mercy’ from the first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen. I have all the rest since.

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen (if you had to pick one!): Antony and the Johnsons at Vicar Street a few years ago. Incredible band who played and sang inspirational music.

Tell us about your TV viewing:

Netflix, documentaries, sport. TG4 history, current affairs and I’m missing Vincent Browne.

Radio listening and/or podcasts:

Bobby Kerr, Futureproof and Off The Ball on Newstalk; John Creedon, Lilian Smith and news on RTÉ Radio 1.

You’re curating your dream festival — which three artists are on the bill, living or dead?

The original Dubliners, The Eels and Antony and the Johnsons.

Your best celebrity encounter:

Sammy Davis Junior. Stockton’s Wing played at a private party for Sammy, Lisa Minnelli and Frank Sinatra. Sammy invited us to join him for both shows at Landsdowne Road. He was such a wonderful gentleman. It was quite a special few days.

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

I like Irish history so I think the 1890s were special times for Ireland. The movement to rediscover our national identity through our music, language, sport, writing, theatre and politics has fascinated me in recent years. There were so many powerful, brave, creative men and women working to develop that identity.

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

Our wonderful nurses and carers.

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

Put a spell on all bank officials from top to bottom who at one time or another harassed vulnerable and frightened customers with threatening phone calls and large legalese letters. I would make them visit all of those houses, apologise and promise to treat all future customers with the respect and dignity they deserve. I would then urge the next king to the same and so on and so on until the bankers eventually got the message. It will take a few goes.

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