Ahead of my upcoming live gig with DeBarra’s Clonakilty featuring all the songs from The Wells of the World, I’ve been contemplating on the creation of this album. This was my first solo album and was launched by Philip King in September 1997 in the Lobby Bar in Cork. That was a big night for me.
I was at that time trying to engineer a smooth transition from being a member of the band Nomos to being a solo artist. I was 36 years old and had played in bands since I was sixteen. The Wells of the World had morphed out of a previous attempt at an album called The Tree of Stars which was never released. It was recorded and produced by Declan Sinnott in his home studio in Mahon, Cork. I first visited the studio as a guest on Sinead Lohan’s album Who Do You Think I Am? It was a great education to work with Declan, one of the greatest Irish musicians of our time. He put his heart and soul into it and it was wonderful to see the songs evolve into beautifully arranged, dreamlike musical structures.
After the launch we ended up in the Spailpín Fánach, and then back in Noel Shine and Mary Greene’s house for tunes and craic. I was on a high. It just seemed to have taken so very long to get to this place in my life. The next morning I drove to Fountainstown and threw myself into the sea, rejoicing.
The artwork was based on a drawing called The Blue Princess by my daughter Leslie when she was four and I think it captured the fairytale element of my songwriting. The album title is from a line in the song It Wasn’t To Be – “It wasn’t to be, or we’d be drinking from the wells of the world, or living in each others shadow”.
The album was very well received and I’ll never forget the evening when I was driving my car on Evergreen Road in Cork and PJ Curtis came on the radio raving about the great talent and imagination we have in Ireland and this brilliant new album he had just received and at the end of his spiel it turned out it was my album! The Wells of The World! Wow!
I played a load of gigs in the Lobby in Cork and the Cobblestone in Dublin and Christy Moore started coming regularly and covered Johnny Don’t Go To Ballincollig on his album This Is The Day and again on Live In Vicar Street. This was a double wow! Then Sean Keane came out with a really beautiful version of The Land You Love The Best and the fabulous Pauline Scanlon and Sharon Shannon with a sublime version of All The Ways You Wander. Those three songs made it into the session scene and were sung at many the trad session at home and abroad. The first time I heard that All The Ways You Wander was sung at a funeral kind of shook me a bit. It was played on a harp as this lady from West Cork was lowered into the ground. It turns out that it has been played at many’s the funeral but also at many weddings. I am honoured that my songs have found their way into the people’s hearts in this way.
I gigged on with Nomos until March the following year and I got out of the van for the last time at some airport in the USA, shook hands with the lads and became my own man, at last. That was 22 years ago and I’ve enjoyed a wonderful journey since then, and now I have a brand new album called 100 Snow White Horses ready to come out next year 2021! The dream goes on. Thanks lads!
Do join us for our streamed ticketed gig where we will play the full album of The Wells of the World – Thursday 3rd of September. There will be two gigs – one for my Irish fans, and one timed for my friends across the seas in America.