Eleanor Shanley is from Leitrim but now lives in Ballinasloe, Co Galway. She sings with De Danann and also has a solo career that includes the recent release of an album, Forever Young. 

De Dannan play the Ballincollig Winter Music Festival tomorrow in The White Horse. www.whitehorse.ie

Best Recent Book: I’ve picked two: Hanging with The Elephant, Michael Harding; and What Matters, Mary Kennedy

Best Recent Film: I saw Amy on a flight recently. A beautifully crafted film of the life of a very tragic and talented woman (Amy Winehouse).

Recent show/exhibition/gig: Cathy Carman’s exhibition Diary currently on show in the Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar. A beautiful, honest exhibition of sculptures depicting her journey. A must-see.

What formats do you access music: I usually buy CDs in shops or at gigs — I like having the physical album to read sleeve notes etc.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately: I’m involved in a show called The Leitrim Equation (a history of Leitrim music dating back to the 1600s) with John McCartin, Padraig McGovern, Dave Sheridan, Donal Lunny, Vincent Woods and Edwina Guckian. I’ve included a Leitrim woman called Nan Fitzpatrick in the show — she was one of the first Irish women (if not the first) to record in the US in the 1930s. She has left a legacy of beautiful recordings and it’s been such a nice journey listening to them.

Pick one of the first ever pieces of music/art/film that moved you: My Uncle Thomas singing ‘The Cliffs of Duneen’ when I was a child. He had a wonderful voice and was a compulsive singer — I remember him singing and whistling his way through his daily chores!

The best show or gig you’ve ever seen: It’s so difficult to pick one but up there at the top is Leonard Cohen in Sligo and Kilmainham.

Tell us about your TV viewing: I could watch cookery programmes all day long!

Radio Listening: RTÉ 1, Lyric and Newstalk. When I’m driving around the country I always tune into local radio to get a feel for what’s happening in the locality I’m visiting.

Name three of your musical heroes: Delia Murphy (my mother introduced me to her singing many years ago); Edith Piaf (a woman who sung straight from the heart); and after that there are so many singers and songwriters I admire that it would be impossible to narrow it down — eg Richard Thompson, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, etc.

Your best celebrity encounter: On my first ever tour of America with De Danann we met Jack Nicholson. We were at a party in Los Angeles and ended up singing until five in the morning with Jack Nicholson, Harry Dean Stanton, Angelica Huston... great memories!

You are queen for a day — what is your first decree? I’d abolish ‘titles’ especially the title of ‘Queen’ — all should be equal. I would also consider abolishing all religions — what could we use as an excuse for war then, I wonder?


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