This Much I Know: Daoirí Farrell

This Much I Know: Daoirí Farrell

I am completely surprised by my success. Constantly.

Music was always my passion but I worked as an electrician for twelve years first.

I’m not from a musical family and when I was in school you’d be more likely to find me fly fishing down by the Dodder in Dublin, than at my books. I was a very quiet child.

I picked up my first instrument when I was a young lad in first year of secondary school - the guitar and then the bodhrán. My dad was always listening to Planxty and Christy Moore and Paul Brady so I suppose I had a love of folk music without even knowing it. They became my heroes.

During my years as an electrician they called me George Formby because I used to bring my banjo on site and play it in the container or in my car during my breaks.

My biggest challenge was going back to college to study traditional music and performance. In 2008 I went to Ballyfermot College of Further Education and later to the University of Limerick. I’d never experienced the type of music we were exposed to, or that type of learning environment.

My mum and dad and sister Ciara were very supportive about my decision to give up the day job. I began gigging to make ends meet although I only knew five or six songs.Then I started winning competitions, first the All Ireland Champion Singer award and then the Danny Kyle Award at Celtic Connections in Glasgow - that’s when things really took off. In 2017 I won the BBC Folk Awards and performed with a six piece line-up at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

I was incredibly nervous at first as I was such a shy person - standing up in the Albert Hall nearly killed me - but I’ve learnt to practice so much that I’m confident going on stage - and once I get out there now, it’s a massive buzz.

The song sings the singer. The trick is to be in the music. When I’m singing the Creggan White Hare, for example, I’m out there in the fields.

The best advice I ever got is to keep chipping away at things. You’re not going to get it all done in one day. The main thing is never to panic. About anything.

My biggest fault is that I’m not as organised as I’d like to be.

If I could be reborn as someone else for a day I’d be Elvis. That’s my nickname. To experience those fans while you’re on stage….

My biggest extravagance is bouzoukis. I currently have four.

The personality trait I look for in friends is people who don’t take themselves too seriously.

Nothing in particular irritates me about other people. I’m not easily irritated.

I motivate myself by setting goals.

In times of stress, I pick up the fishing rod. That, and the music, is what’s kept me sane during lockdown. I recorded two new singles from home. And I’ve passed the rest of the time fishing on the canal down by Dublin’s Bluebell, where I live with my partner Caitriona.

Ambition is more important than talent. It’s good to have the worried feeling sometimes - it makes you get out there and get stuff done.

I believe that there has to be an after life. When I’m out fishing I look up at the sky and think it can’t be just us.

I have faith in something. I’m not overly religious but if I am passing a church - especially if I’m away on tour - I will always go in. It soothes me.

The lesson so far is that it is best to be relaxed and ready for the next thing as life is so full of surprises.

BBC 2 Folk Award-winning singer Daoirí Farrell recorded two new singles from home during lockdown: 'The Parting Glass' and 'When the Breakers go Back on Full Time'

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