She has travelled the world as lead singer in an Irish music family sensation, and now Andrea Corr is back living in Ireland, preparing to have the family around for Christmas dinner. She shares memories from her life and career, and shines a light into her new autobiography Barefoot Pilgrimage with Shea Tomkins.
When it comes to family get-togethers, Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year.
For a few days we get to step off the treadmill of everyday obligations, relishing the opportunity to munch mince pies, sip mulled wine and watch endless re-runs of Indiana Jones with those we love most. And few families have represented Ireland on the global stage with such talent, grace and prestige as Dundalk natives, ‘The Corrs’.
With record sales in excess of 40 million albums worldwide, the Louth artists rode the crest of the popular music wave through the nineties and noughties, before naturally settling into the next chapters in their lives – raising the next generation of ‘Corrs’!
Meeting up with Ireland’s Own for a chat and a cuppa before the Christmas rush sweeps her away, the youngest of the tribe, and the band’s lead singer, Andrea – who recently presented us with an autobiographical masterpiece in Barefoot Pilgrimage – is excited about having the whole family over to hers for Christmas dinner.
“I have two kids of my own now – Jeanie, who is seven, and Brett, who will be six in January, and they are really looking forward to Christmas,” she says. “We have just moved home to Ireland and it’s like they knew they were little Irish people all along. I’m doing ‘the family Christmas’ this year, and all the family and their kids are coming to my house…I’m looking after the cooking too, which I love.
“Our own house smelled so good at Christmastime. I still remember the smell of Mammy’s kitchen at Christmas, the Dundee cake, her roast potatoes… As we got older we helped of course – I was in charge of making the red cabbage! Everyone loves their mum’s cooking, even my own daughter recognises that and when she goes somewhere might say… ‘that doesn’t taste like my mother’s!’”
Andrea’s memoir is an emotional rollercoaster ride through her life to date, lifting off in the cosiness and contentment of a loving Irish childhood, and rocketing its way through her singing and acting careers, in a most entertaining way.
“I have one particular Christmas memory from when I was only about seven or eight,” she recalls. “Dad’s relations used to come to our house after the Christmas dinner and they would announce ‘we’ll have the children sing now’.
“We would all sing and Mum would be serving the mince pies, and she’d be singing too. Daddy played the piano and my song to sing was always O Holy Night. He was also the church organist and he said to me, ‘Why don’t you sing with me on Christmas Day?’ So I said yeah, I would, and we got excited about it, and practised it.
“Then Christmas morning arrived and I was just so overwhelmed with fear and the images I had of myself, exposed up there, with the echoing quiet in the church, and the coughs, and all those people listening…I just had a flash of ‘I’m not going to be able to do this’. I was upset. Mammy consoled me. She comforted me, and told Daddy I wouldn’t be doing it.
“I still remember him starting the song, and the note coming and my heart beating and knowing where I was supposed to come in, and then the moment passed. Nobody else knew though, and he played it instrumentally. I regretted it afterwards, it would have been beautiful to sing with him on Christmas Day.”