It’s a fresh September morning as I sit in the garden area of a well-frequented Greystones cafe. The man sitting opposite me seems to know all the staff, and why wouldn’t he? He pops in here every morning on his walking route. This morning, Johnny McEvoy, now in his seventieth year, is staying a little longer than usual as we chat about how it all began for the man from Banagher.
John McEvoy was born to Galway parents, Jack and Emily McEvoy, in the midlands town of Banagher, Co. Offaly, in April, 1945. One of four children, Johnny moved with his family to Dublin in 1951 when he was just six years old. His father Jack took up a post with CIE as a driver, and the family settled in their new home in Clonskeagh.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t a musical house apart from the occasions when Johnny’s older brother Tom would organise a house party.
“Tom loved the craic, he was a good singer at home and played the accordion. He’d organise an old-style Irish house party with his friends, where they’d all have a sing song or recite a monologue,” he recalls.
However, it was to be a while before a young Johnny would join in.