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Frankie Gavin

Founding member of the legendary folk group Dé Danann

Frankie Gavin

Frankie Gavin

Born and reared in Corrandulla, Co Galway, I now live in Oughterard, right on the doorstep of Connemara North.

I got a tin whistle for my fourth birthday so my path was set without my parents ever really realising it. My life just lit up when I got that whistle, and I tend to remember things that happened after that day and nothing before. This is all because music just took me over and my path was set from that day onward. Today, I would describe myself as being an ok musician who loves playing, occasionally composing, and more importantly making people happy through my music.

I could not get away from school fast enough because music was my only interest as a child, and into my teenage years.

Anyway, it was torture in those days as we all dreaded the bamboo rod. It was a terrifying experience moving to Galway City and into the national school in the city compared to a small little classroom in Corrandulla. I went right into the mayhem with around forty other pupils in one classroom, and all living in fear. Ironically, rods were for sale right inside the front door of Powell’s Music Store located on Shop St., in Galway. If I had to be someone other than a musician, I would choose to be a lawyer as I despise injustice and have been on the receiving end of it just about half of my life. Examples range from raw deals in the music business, to being picked-on by the Principal of ‘the Bish’ in Galway. That man made little of me from the first day that I walked in the front gate and often blamed me for things that I never did.

You can't just 'be' a musician, you either are one or your not.

You can't 'become' one either. You can learn to play music, and if you are lucky enough, you might get ‘the call’ as the late John Kelly, the fiddler, used to say. The same goes for writing music. Music is a pleasure when it comes to you. It is nothing that you can induce but the joy that you feel when something goes right and when you get the vote of approval from your peers, makes it all worthwhile. This is especially true when they do you the honour of playing your tunes. That's truly gratifying I have to say.

The original Dé Danann was formed around 1974.

I founded the band after taking numerous afternoons off school, to try and convince fellow musician, Alec Finn, to start a band. He, Terry Smith and Mickey Finn, had a three-piece band called ‘Dicklerfitz’ who played afternoon sessions and night gigs in the cellar bar in Galway back in the day. After numerous Sunday morning sessions in Hughes’s pub in Spiddal, Alec agreed to the idea and Charlie Piggott and Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh were more than game. It was a special time in our lives as the scent of popularity was hitting us, and the excitement was powerful. We were lucky to be in that place, at that particular time, as Irish Traditional Music was being 'discovered' by the people of Ireland, as much as it was by ourselves. I once asked Keith Richards, while I was staying in his home in the States: “Keith, how did it all happen for ye" and he replied, "Frankie, we were just lucky.” I will never compare us to the ‘Stones’ but we have that much in common. We were very lucky to be there at that particular time.

Our success came about almost by accident rather than by design.

Phil Callery from the Voice Squad was there in ‘Tigh’ Hughes one Sunday, and asked us to come and play in his club in Island Bridge, in Dublin. The rest as they say is history and off we went. We were all style in those days with Ringo sporting a pair of ‘Wellies’ and a colourless shirt. Anyway, after the first gig someone said wouldn't it be nice if we had the odd song here and there to break-up the music. Luckily, I knew the ideal client for that position and asked my childhood friend, Dolores Keane, to come on-board.

Currently, we are working on a new album so that is exciting.

There is no title as of yet but that usually appears out of nowhere when the album is done. There are some lovely lively selections of tunes plus a few of my own compositions and I am very happy with how they are developing. There are, also, some old and new songs with a few surprises along the way. I love being in the studio as it is second nature to me. Working with Barry Brady, Colm O’Caoimh, Dan Bodwell, and Bernadine Casserly, is a real pleasure. Finally, to record in Garry O’Brian’s Studio by the lake, makes it all the more pleasurable. Many modern tunes are put together merely to fill in the spaces but start nowhere, go nowhere and end nowhere. I hope to God that I am never guilty of that.

We are looking forward to playing Friars’ Gate Theatre in Kilmallock this August.

The audience there is fantastic, and always show-up in great numbers. Indeed, all of the team at Friars’ Gate are lovely, both in front of house and behind the scenes. So it's something to look forward to. We will try our best to send people home feeling much happier than they came in, with a few laughs thrown in for good measure. Roll on Friars’ Gate!

Frankie Gavin & Dé Danann will perform at Friars’ Gate Theatre in Kilmallock on Saturday, August 13 at 8pm. For information please see: 063-98727 or visit the website: and

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