English folk icon Ralph McTell will be making a welcome return to Sligo next weekend to perform at the Sligo Live festival.
The return is welcome both by his fans in the North West and by the man himself, who has played here several times over a music career spanning half a century.
The 70-year-old even recalls a memorable St Patrick’s night spent in Sligo many moons ago.
“I’m trying to think what year. It was a long time ago. I had a very memorable St Patrick’s night there when I was booked to play in Strandhill. It was a wonderful occasion and I enjoyed it very much.
“I also played in Sligo in the Silver Swan and I’ve been there on other occasions, but to be truthful they’re kind of lost in the mist a bit.”
Although he lived all his life in England, settling in idyllic Cornwall, from where he spoke to the Sligo Weekender, Ralph always had a deep affinity for Ireland and the Irish.
“It goes back to when I was a little boy. I grew up with Irish people around me. I had lots of Irish friends when I was a kid.
“The influence of Ireland was all around me and I have written a song called ‘Mr Connaughton’ which is quite well-known about our Irish neighbour who lived upstairs. I grew up without a dad so he was an important figure in my life.”
He said that Irish audiences too have been among the most receptive, with many of his more melancholic songs moving some to tears.
For the full interview with Ralph McTell, pick up a copy of this week’s Sligo Weekender newspaper – in shops now!