Maxi remembers a special night in Ennis when she and Danny Doyle sang ‘Daisy A Day’, which led to an encounter with a surprise guest in the audience…
What’s the attraction of show business? Some say it’s living the life of a troubadour, others, the wish to spread joy, and some say it’s a love of all things unpredictable.
For me it was all three and one more. The element that greatly attracted me was my interest in Ireland and its people. Everywhere there are stories and storytellers and the sweetness of encountering those, stays in the memory long after other gifts have been discarded.
My reflections often take me to the touring days, the backstage banter, the discussions on the drive to and from the venue, and the constant companionship of talented people.
As a shy lady not long out of a convent school, it was exciting to be part of the world of vision-makers.
Every ballroom owner dreamed of being an entrepreneur, every backing vocalist of basking in the spotlight, every musician of releasing an album of their own compositions.
Let me take you to Ennis, County Clare, on the River Fergus north of where it enters the Shannon estuary.
There are many famous sons and daughters of this great place, not least my colleague, Kieran Hanrahan, the radio presenter and tenor banjo player who won an All-Ireland banjo championship at fourteen years of age.
Mike Hanrahan, the singer, guitarist, writer, producer and chef, and Abe Grady, the great grandfather of Mohammad Ali the boxer and sporting icon hailed from Ennis, as did sweet-voiced Grammy nominee Maura O Connell, the television presenter Des Lynam, and of course its most famous son Daniel O’Connell who brought Catholic emancipation to Ireland.
One night I was singing in a band with the honey-voiced Danny Doyle, in a unit called Music Box. Danny was Number One in the charts with a sweet waltz called Daisy a Day, and I had just represented my country in the Eurovision song contest in Luxembourg earlier that year. Business was booming.
Danny was into his second encore for Daisy and it seemed he couldn’t satisfy his legion of fans. We both smiled. As Danny began the song which would always be synonymous with him I waited by the microphone to harmonise with him on the chorus.
“I’ll give you a daisy a day dear
I’ll give you a daisy a day
I’ll love you until the rivers run still
And the four winds we know blow away”
He was starting the middle verse when I noticed that one of the men dancing had stopped in front of the stage and was looking straight at me. He signalled for me to lean down so he could speak to me, and when I did he introduced himself. “I’m Jud Strunk,” he said in the softest American accent I had ever heard. “I wrote that song”.