Clancy, the youngest of the musical Clancy brothers, moved back from
New Hampshire with his wife Kim to a solar-powered house and recording
studio designed by their friend Duncan Stewart at Ring, Co Waterford.
Kate McMorrow reports.
It's been an incredible journey for singer Liam Clancy, from the house
where he grew up in William Street, Carrick-on-Suir to his present
home - a palatial solar house by the sea at Ring, Co Waterford.
between is a story of a rise to fame and fortune that a Louis Walsh
boy band would envy. The Clancy brothers and Tommy Makem hit New York's
Greenwich Village at the start of the folk music revival in the late
1950s, bowling over audiences with their Tipperary charm and passionate
renditions of traditional ballads.
mixed with the cream of New York music society, befriending up-and-coming
stars like Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Barbra Streisand and actors
like Robert Redford.
the youngest of 11, was invited to America by music-loving heiress
Diane Guggenheim, who used the name Hamilton to disguise her wealthy
background. Here, he met his older brothers Paddy and Tom for the
first time - they had left home long before - and, after a brief acting
career, began recording under Guggenheim's Tradition Records label.
their years in America, Liam and his family spent summers in their
cottage in Ring, eventually migrating back for good.
had been living in a real old New Hampshire house in the woods with
a swimming-pool when I told my wife Kim I'd love to go back. 'I'm
not living in that cottage,' she said. 'Build me a house as good as
this and we will.'
I bought seven acres and built this solar house with a swimming-pool
and a recording studio. I put in over 3,000 trees - natural specimens
like Scots pine, oak, alder and ash. We even have a hazel grove with
a path through, just like W B Yeats."
youngest Clancy fell in love with Ring when he and his friends The
Dubliners "went off on a skite" to Helvick Head during a tour. Dubliner
Ciaran Burke had studied at Ring College and it was his suggestion,
arrived at the little pub just as it was closing and some teachers
invited us up to the Irish college for a pint of stout and a session.
I woke up in the morning next to Luke Kelly in one of those old converted
trains they used to put up excess students.
fell in love with this place then and bought a cottage on six acres
for £800. Every chance I'd get, I'd come back for an entire summer.
I bought a sailboat and learned to sail and scuba dive. We loved the
"I remember one day we went with the kids to the Cunnigar, a local
sandbar. The kids got hungry and I fed the lot on cockles we picked
on the sand. I thought that was paradise - where else could you feed
a hoard of kids for free, up to your knees in wonderful warm water?"
transition from New Hampshire to Ring was easier for their four children
because, when living in the US and Canada, every holiday had been
spent here. Eben, the eldest, is a video editor with the BBC in London.
who's marrying Cork musician John Hegarty in July, is having her reception
in the house.
Donal, also in the music business, sings with the New York group Solas.
Siobhán lives nearby with her husband, sean nós singer Cartagh McGrath,
and Ailidh, who is nearly two. "Ailidh is the light of my life," says
fond grandparent Liam. "She's 20 months going on 30."
and Liam met at the Abbey Tavern in Howth "when she lent us money
to buy drinks for the press. She has dedicated her life to bringing
up the family. "
many couples, Liam and Kim knew what kind of house they wanted, but
had no idea how to translate their dream into bricks and mortar. They
were thinking of something eco-friendly, with natural materials to
blend in with the spectacular surroundings.
friend, architect Duncan Stewart, came to their rescue. Nothing seemed
to happen for about a year because a massive rock store was being
prepared at the sunny end of the site, using hundreds of tons of crushed
from the solar panels is stored in the rock, then released back through
the house when needed.
was working with nature. All the oak planks made the house very much
like the underside of a ship. We used pegs instead of nails. I built
the recording studio a few paces away from the house, in the same
joined to the house by a glassed-in pathway, wide so we can grow vines.
Here, you feel like you're going to work, yet you're really at home."
recording studio has been used by many of the top names in folk music,
including the Chieftans and Charlie McGettigan. It has none of the
problems which plague city venues, such as keeping a totally dark
interior and sound-proofing, says Liam. "We're sound-proofed by our
seven acres - the only sounds you hear are the birds singing. Some
traditional musicians have included the birdsong on their recording.
write here too. On my 60th birthday, I bought a laptop with a typing
programme and started writing my memoirs.
suffered from panic attacks and stage fright. Writing the book cured
me of an intense anger about the Christian Brothers, because we were
severely beaten as children. And after telling the story of my sister
who died when I was six months old, the stage fright disappeared.
bogey men are gone, and now I've taken to writing I don't think I'll
ever stop." Memoirs of an Irish Troubadour is published by Virgin