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At Hotel Kilmore

At The Hotel Kilmore

He was born in a small town called Banagher in the midlands of Ireland on the banks of the River Shannon. It was there he spent many a happy day playing in the meadows and bog lands. Watching my uncles cut turf, jumping bog holes with his cousins and in the evening listening to the call of the Corncrake and the Curlew.

When he was six my family and I moved from the quiet town of Banagher to the hustle and bustle of Dublin City. They were a small close knit family but strangely enough there was no music in the house however his mother could dance a fine “Hornpipe.” His first introduction to the beauty of folk music came on cold winter evenings listening to Radio Luxemburg after homework was done. The station used to present a folk programme that featured well established names such as The Weavers, Rambling Jack Elliot and Hank Williams to name but a few. Folk music now became his first love, meaning the good ole Rock n Roll would have to take a back seat.

When he reached his teens he formed a folk duo with a fellow art student by the name of Michael Crotty. They called themselves the “Ramblers Two” While together they toured various folk clubs in both Ireland and England during the mid sixties. However they eventually went their separate ways, Michael to join a folk group, and Johnny took to the road less travelled and went solo…..This was to make all the difference.

His big break came in late 1966 when I recorded a song called “Mursheen Durkin” an old ballad from the west of Ireland. It topped the charts at Number 1 for three consecutive weeks and represented my first steps on the road to success. “Mursheen Durkin” was followed up by “The Boston Burglar” which also reached Number 1 in the charts. In 1966 in Dublin City he had played support to an up and coming band “The Rolling Stones” and for the very first time witnessed the mobbing and screaming of the fans, the band running for the back door and the all important getaway car….. Now this was happening to Johnny!!!