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IMRO Interview with Irish Music Legend Finbar Furey

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Finbar's father, Ted, began him on the pipes while he was very young - he doesn't ever remember not playing pipes. He loved the instrument and spent all his spare time practising and soaking up knowledge from other pipers who would come to the house for sessions with Ted. It was normal for the likes of Leo Rowsome, Seamus Ennis, John Keenan, Felix Doran, Willie Clancy and Tommy Moore to be around to see Ted at their home in Ballyfermot in Dublin. By his teens he had won 3 All Ireland Medals, the Oireachtas and many Feisanna - in fact he was the only piper ever to win the All Ireland, the Oireachtas medal and the 4 province titles in the same year. Finbar popularised the pipes worldwide while on tour with his brother Eddie in the 60's. Many bands followed in their wake, but the duo were awarded Single of the Year by John Peel in 1972 entirely because of the unique sound the uilleann pipes and whistle made, in the context of what was, at the time, a modern pop sound. They received many other accolades because they were the spearhead of contemporary music of that time. While there was an inevitable progression in Irish music, Finbar and Eddie brought a new Irish hipness to a worldwide audience which would have had no ear for Irish music otherwise. Before Finbar and Eddie, Irish music was for the converted ear. After Finbar and Eddie, it was blended into every other kind of "world" and popular music. It became once again, the music of youth and revolution, as folk had been generations before and also, a means of dealing with political and social problems which the world faced in that, it was a way for 'common folk', to stand together against real world injustices, such as pollution and abuses of government power. The illumination they brought to a generation cannot be overstated. Subsequently of course the format was used everywhere from Planxty to Riverdance, Braveheart to Hailey Westenra. Another innovation, discovered through necessity when his bamboo 'Lonesome Boatman' flute got broken, he invented the Overton flute with his friend Bernard Overton - now played worldwide and known as the 'Low Whistle'. The pipes are now enjoying an explosion in popularity and Finbar has always pushed to enable pipes to be made more accessible to budding musicians; to get the means to have them made at a more reasonable cost, and without long, long waiting lists. This is now happening. From 1976 Finbar was the lead singer, songwriter and front man of The Fureys and with that format they achieved international success with songs such as 'The Green Fields of France,' The Lonesome Boatman' and 'When You Were Sweet Sixteen'. In 1997 Finbar decided the time was right to follow his own path as a singer/songwriter. A man of many talents he has added 'actor' to his list of credits, with his roles in 'Gangs of New York', the Scottish short film 'Paris/Sexy', the boxing film, 'Strength and Honour' but most recently in the highly acclaimed RTÉ series, 'Love/Hate'. And over the last few months Finbar deservedly gained the Number 1 spot in the Irish Charts in September with the beautifully written 'The Last Great Love Song' by Gerry Fleming. And to finish off the year nicely, his album 'Colours, The Last Great Love Song' was in the Number 1 spot in the Irish Indie charts in December. Visit: www.imro.ie