One of Ireland’s most famous and successful singers Mary Black looks to the New Year full of hope and excitement as she talks to Kay Doyle about her family and career
As we look ahead to 2016, Mary Black is relishing the idea of spending more time with her family, improving her golf, doing some charity work and continuing to do what she does best – sing.
The first lady of Irish folk music is in great form as we meet for a coffee in a busy Kildare cafe. But this chart-topping, multi-award winning singer also has to keep an eye on the time, as she has promised to babysit her two granddaughters for the afternoon and just can’t wait to see them. She hopes the New Year will bring her more time with them, and more time for herself.
“Little Bonnie is three now and Fiadh is one and a half,” she gushes. “Becoming a grandmother was incredible. You love them the same as your own kids but you just don’t have all the hard work part of it. I have a great relationship with the two of them which is exactly what I want – to be a hands-on Granny.
“They only live around the corner. Nearly every evening my son Conor will call over with them, to give Jade, their mam, a break. I have them for an hour or two and we snuggle up and play. Fiadh loves singing, the minute she sees me she breaks into Twinkle Twinkle because I always sing to her. I want to nurture their singing side and just be Granny.”
The Last Call Tour announced last year was a decision of Mary’s to wind up touring abroad, not, as some suggested, to finish touring and singing altogether.
“I’m 60 now,” she tells me. “I’ve worked hard all my life and felt I’d like a bit more ‘me’ time and time for other things, so The Last Call Tour is about winding down gigging abroad. I don’t want to give up singing because I’d miss it too much.”
It will be a loss for thousands of Mary Black fans across the globe, but a well-earned and timely break for the popular folk singer. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a time when Mary Black wasn’t a dominant presence on the Irish music scene.
Songs like No Frontiers, Past The Point of Rescue, Katie and Bright Blue Rose have been sung as party-pieces in thousands of Irish homes over the years and it feels like these quintessential Mary Black songs have been around forever.