Tag Archives: Neck

Podcast# 69, 999 Years of Irish History (part 2)

February 9, 2013

Track List:

Kilmaine Saints – Wearing of the Green
Auld Corn Brigade – Irish soldier laddie
The Brazen Heads – Wind That Shakes The Barley
Black 47 – Vinegar Hill
Barney Murray – Glory, Glory Oh
The Battering Ram – Henry Joy
The Town Pants – Kelly The Boy From Killanne
The Battering Ram – General Munro
Shane MacGowan and the Popes – Roddy McCorley
The Porters – The Rising of the Moon
Neck – Back Home In Derry

The Penal Laws:

No Pope Here
The Treat of Limerick – not worth the stone it was written on

So you thought the last 600 years of Irish history was crappy, well those were actually the good ‘oul days. With the Irish Catholic army in France and William light footed elsewhere the fully Protestant parliament in Dublin break every agreement in the treaty using the excuse that the Pope now was recognizing Jimmy Deuce as the rightfully King of Ireland and England, allowing them to consolidate their power and destroy any remaining Catholic power in the country. The laws they brought in were called The Penal Laws and were social engineering at its worst, designed to impoverish and disenfranchise the Catholic population. The modern equivalent would be the apartheid laws in South Africa – and like apartheid they were all about keeping the power and wealth within a select group rater then to force Catholics to convert (as much a apartheid was designed to change skin color) though the laws were structured that if a son of a wealthy landowner converted then he would inherit all the fathers property (sometimes this was encouraged within family’s when one converted and the rest prayed for his eternal soul) ,if there was no conversion then the land was subdivided between all sons. Education, voting and property rights were banned as was carrying of any weapons and the ownership of horses was restricted. Churches were closed and Popish priests would be exacted if caught in the country. Ironically, the Presbyterians in Ulster who supported Willie and held out against Jimbo in Derry were also subject to the Penal Laws – their faith was not recognized at all and while a Catholic priest would be boiled, burned and beheaded if caught in the country his sacraments were still recognized by the state as valid – marriages the Presbyterians minister performed were not though they didn’t have to fear the being anyone’s barbecue – thousands of these dissenters left for North America and within a couple of generations they had their revenge and made life very difficult for the British in the colonies before becoming the original Hillbillies and Red Necks of the American South. “I bet you can squeal like a pig. Yah Fenian bastard!”

 

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 Castletown House
A Mud Cabin

Through out the 1700’s thing in Ireland got worse and worse and the Catholic population ground into poverty or left the county for the armies of Europe or education in the Irish Colleges in Paris or Rome. Famine broke out twice in the 1700 yet the Landlord class built large palatial mansions and ruled over estates of tens of thousands of acres with thousand of tenant farmers living hand to mouth eating the only crop that could grow on their miserable few acres that would feed their brood of 25 red headed runts, the potato. If a tenant improved his land then the rent was raised, if another tenant offered more rent for another tenants land then that land went to the highest bidder and the original tenant was thrown off the land. Pretty suckie! If you every visit Ireland make sure you visit Castletown House outside Dublin (Celbridge) and take the tour. The house is the largest house in Ireland built by William Conelly, the speaker of the Dublin parliament who made a fortune through taking over the land of the disposed in the early 1700’s and as the tour guide in the plummy West-Brit accent tells you about the wonderful life of the inhabitants of the big house, stick yer paw up and ask about the Irish in their mud cabin out the back who were paying for the parasites life style – it’s great to watch ’em squirm.

The United Irishmen:

 The Capture of Lord Edward
Wolfe Tone
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I met with Napper Tandy and I shook him by the hand he said hold me up for chrissake for I can hardly stand

In the 1776 the world shifted on its axis and 13 British Colonies declared independence and Ireland and especially Ulster with its close ties to the Americas (family ties so close that family trees were often just trunks) got cowbell republican fever. Then in 1789 the other country that provided sanctuary to the Irish, France, fell to republicanism. Within 3 years of the fall of the Bastille in 1792 saw the formation of the Society of United Irishmen that combined liberal Protestants in Dublin and Belfast with the Catholic rump with the idea of revolution to bring in democracy to Ireland, leaders of the movement included Lord Edward Fitzgerald – the youngest son of the Duke of Leinster – who started his career as a Redcoat and was shot and left for dead at Yorktown being rescued from the battlefield by a slave, Wolfe Tone (not the group but the man, though they are old enough to have been around then) and Napper Tandy. From pamphlets they moved quickly to revolution and appeals to the new French dictator Napoleon to send troops to Invade Ireland. Ireland moved toward all out revolution. Wolfe Tone tries 3 times to bring the French to Ireland. In 1796, 43 French ships carrying 15,000 men got in sight of Bantry Bay but the “Protestant winds” stopped the landing, there was another attempt in 1797 but again the weather stopped the landing and a third attempt was undertake with 3,000 men but disaster struck and Tone and Tandy were captured at the Battle of Lough Swilly in October 1798 which ended the rebellion (and Tone’s life).

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The 1798 Rising:

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The Battle of New Ross
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Vinegar Hill

Skipping back a few months to March 1798 and after a particularly riotous Paddy’s day martial law was imposed (well more due to informers actually) forcing the United Irishmen into action before the French could try to show up again – a small rebellion breaks out in Cahir, County Tipperary that is quickly crushed, then the United Irishmen planed to take Dublin but again the government had a hot line to the plans through Informers. Never the less rebellion breaks out in surrounding counties of Kildare (Barney Murray – Glory, Glory Oh), Carlow and Wicklow (Holt’s Way) and are all crushed quickly and brutally. The rebellion spreads to Ulster and Antrim (Roddy McCorley) and Down and after initial success the rebels are………you guessed it……..crushed. To the south in Wexford the biggest rebellion of all breaks out and under the leadership of the Catholic priest, Fr. John Murphy – who was initially a government loyalist but who turned after witnessing government brutality to his parishioners. The rebels quickly took over the county but defeats at the Battle of New RossBattle of Arklow, and the Battle of Bunclody halted the spread of the rebellion outside of the county. The government poured in 20,000 troops and the Irish and the Red Coats with support from German mercenaries met at Vinegar Hill. Despite the splendid leader ship of Fr. Murphy the rebels were poorly armed and trained and up against battle hardened regulars they are encircled and completely routed. Much butchery of the surrendering rebels and their civilian followers followed – Fr Murphy was stripped, flogged, hanged, decapitated, his corpse burnt in a barrel of tar and his head impaled on a spike (not quite water-boarding but almost as bad).

 The Republic of Connaught:

The British Army

Meanwhile across the country in Mayo, a small advance party of French Solders under the command of General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert land and they are met by the local muckers and the local branch of the United Irishmen. They quickly defeat the yeomanry and march on the 6,000 red coats hanging out in Castlebar. Faced with 1,000 Frenchmen and 1,000 bogmen with pikes (big stick with points on one end) in front of them the Redcoats turn and run and the battle becomes know in local legend as the Castlebar Races – the Redcoats, not pursued a mile or two beyond Castlebar they did not stop running until reaching Tuam, with some units fleeing as far as Athlone in the panic. After Castlebar the French/Irish army tries to march across the country and meet up with rebels in the midlands with the plan of taking Dublin. They made it to the midlands but like all good Irish battle they out on the losing end at the Battle of Ballinamuck. The French troops who surrender got off easily and were exchanged for British prisoners held by the French – the Irish, well those who weren’t killed in battle were  executed by Lord Cornwallis orders (he who lost America for the crown). The novel The Year of The French by Thomas Flanagan based on the French landing is highly recommended.

Robert Emmet:

The rebellion was essentially over by October 1798 though some rebels held out in the hill and the bogs and with a small rebellion breaking out (more a street fight) led by Robert Emmet 1803. Emmet was the brother of Thomas a leader of the United Irishmen who managed to escape to New York. Emmet nearly escaped but the old romantic went to see his mott and was caught. He was tried for treason in front of hanging judge, Lord Norbury with his defense lawyer bribed by the crown. After he is sentenced to death the judge makes the mistake of asking Emmet “What have you, therefore, now to say why judgment of death and execution shall not be awarded against you according to law?”.

Emmet didn’t hold back and delivered one of the greatest speeches of history – ask Old Abe Lincoln – but it didn’t do him much good for the mortal world and he was hung, drawn and quartered (hung till your nearly dead, dragged behind horses  and then cut in 4 pieces after he head is lobbed off by an axe).

“What have I to say why sentence of death should not be pronounced on me, according to law?

I have nothing to say which can alter your predetermination, not that it would become me to say with any view to the mitigation of that Sentence which you are here to pronounce, and by which I must abide. But I have that to say which interests me more than life, and which you have laboured, as was necessarily your office in the present circumstances of this oppressed country to destroy. I have much to say why my reputation should be rescued from the load of false accusation and calumny which has been heaped upon it. I do not imagine that, seated where you are, your minds can be so free from impurity as to receive the least impression from what I am about to utter. I have no hope that I can anchor my character in the breast of a court constituted and trammelled as this is. I only wish, and it is the utmost I expect. that your lordships may suffer it to float down your memories untainted by the foul breath of prejudice, until it finds some more hospitable harbour to shelter it from the rude storm by which it is at present buffeted.

Were I only to suffer death, after being adjudged guilty by your tribunal, I should bow in silence, meet the fate that awaits me without a murmur; but the sentence of the law which delivers my body to the executioner, will, through the ministry of the law, labour in its own vindication to consign my character to obloquy, for there must be guilt somewhere—whether in the sentence of the court, or in the catastrophes posterity must determine. A man in my situation, my lords, has not only to encounter the difficulties of fortune, and the force of power over minds which it has corrupted or subjugated, but the difficulties of established prejudice. The man dies, but his memory lives. That mine may not perish, that it may live in the respect of my countrymen, I seize upon this opportunity to vindicate myself from some of the charges alleged against me. When my spirit shall be wafted to a more friendly port—when my shade shall have joined the bands of those martyred heroes, who have shed their blood on the scaffold and in the field in defence of their country and of virtue, this is my hope—I wish that my memory and name may animate those who survive me, while I look down with complacency on the destruction of that perfidious government which upholds its domination by blasphemy of the Most High—which displays its power over man is over the beasts of the forest—which set man upon his brother, and lifts his hand, in the name of God, against the throat of his fellow who believes or doubts a little more or a little less than the government standard—a government which is steeled to barbarity by the cries of the orphans and the tears of the widows which it has made.

Lord Norbury— “The weak and wicked enthusiasts who feel as you feel are unequal to the accomplishment of their wild designs”.

I appeal to the immaculate God—I swear by the Throne of Heaven, before which I must shortly appear—by the blood of the murdered patriots who have gone before me—that my conduct has been, through all this peril, and through all my purposes, governed only by the convictions which I have uttered, and by no other view than that of the emancipation of my country from the superinhuman oppression under which she has so long and too patiently travailed; and I confidently and assuredly hope that, wild and chimerical as it may appear, there is still union and strength in Ireland to accomplish this noblest enterprise. Of this I speak with the confidence of intimate knowledge, and with the consolation that appertains to that confidence, think not, my lords, that I say this for the petty gratification of giving you a transitory uneasiness. A man who never yet raised his voice to assert a lie will not hazard his character with posterity by asserting a falsehood on a subject so important to his country, and on an occasion like this. Yes, my lords, a man who does not wish to have his epitaph written until his country is liberated will not leave a weapon in the power of envy, nor a pretence to impeach the probity which he means to preserve, even in the grave to which tyranny consigns him.

Lord Norbury — “You proceed to unwarrantable lengths, in order to exasperate or delude the unwary, and circulate opinions of the most dangerous tendency, for purposes of mischief”.

Again I say that what I have spoken was not intended for your lordship, whose situation I commiserate rather than envy—my expressions were for my countrymen. If there is a true Irishman present, let my last words cheer him in the hour of his affliction—

Lord Norbury— ”What you have hitherto said confirms and justifies the verdict of the jury”.

I have always understood it to be the duty of a judge, when a prisoner has been convicted, to pronounce the sentence of the law. I have also understood that judges sometimes think it their duty to hear with patience, and to speak with humanity; to exhort the victim of the laws, and to offer, with tender benignity, their opinions of the motives by which he was actuated in the crime of which he was adjudged guilty. That a judge has thought it his duty so to have done, I have no doubt; but where is that boasted freedom of your institutions—where is the vaunted impartiality, clemency, and mildness of your courts of justice, if an unfortunate prisoner, whom your policy, and not your justice, is about to deliver into the hands of the executioner, is not suffered to explain his motives sincerely and truly, and to vindicate the principles by which he was actuated?

My lords, it may be a part of the system of angry justice to bow a man’s mind by humiliation to the purposed ignominy of the scaffold; but worse to me than the purposed shame or the scaffold’s terrors would be the shame of such foul and unfounded imputations as have been laid against me in this court. You, my lord, are a judge; I am the supposed culprit. I am a man; you are a man also. By a revolution of power we might change places, though we could never change characters. If I stand at the bar of this court and dare not vindicate my character, what a farce is your justice? If I stand at this bar and dare not vindicate my character, how dare you calumniate it? Does the sentence of death, which your unhallowed policy inflicts upon my body, also condemn my tongue to silence and my reputation to reproach? Your executioner may abridge the period of my existence, but, while I exist, I shall not forbear to vindicate my character and motives from your aspersions; as a man to whom fame is dearer than life, I will make the last use of that life in doing justice to that reputation which is to live after me, and which is the only legacy I can leave to those I honour and love, and for whom I am proud to perish.

As men, my lord, we must appear on the great day at one common tribunal, and it will then remain for the Searcher of all hearts to show a collective universe who was engaged in the most virtuous actions or actuated by the purest motives—my country’s oppressor, or—

Lord Norbury— ”Stop, sir! Listen to the sentence of the law”.

My lord, shall a dying man be denied the legal privilege of exculpating himself in the eyes of the community from an undeserved reproach thrown upon him during his trial, by charging him with ambition, and attempting to cast away for a paltry consideration the liberties of his country? Why did your lordship insult me? Or rather, why insult justice in demanding of me why sentence of death should not be pronounced? I know, my lord, that form prescribes that you should ask the question. The form also presumes the right of answering. This, no doubt, may be dispensed with, and so might the whole ceremony of the trial, since sentence was already pronounced at the Castle before your jury were empanelled. Your lordships are but the priests of the oracle. I submit to the sacrifice; but I insist on the whole of the forms.

Lord Norbury— “You may proceed, sir”.

I am charged with being an emissary of France. An emissary of France! And for what end? It is alleged that I wish to sell the independence of my country; and for what end? Was this the object of my ambition? And is this the mode by which a tribunal of justice reconciles contradictions? No; I am no emissary.

My ambition was to hold a place among the deliverers of my country—not in power, not in profit, but in the glory of the achievement. Sell my country’s independence to France! And for what? A change of masters? No; but for my ambition. Oh, my country! Was it personal ambition that influenced me? Had it been the soul of my actions, could I not, by my education and fortune, by the rank and consideration of my family, have placed myself amongst the proudest of your oppressors? My country was my idol. To it I sacrificed every selfish, every endearing sentiment; and for it I now offer myself, O God! No, my lords; I acted a an Irishman, determined on delivering my country from the yoke of a foreign and unrelenting tyranny, and from the more galling yoke of a domestic faction, its joint partner and perpetrator in the patricide, whose reward is the ignominy of existing with an exterior of splendour and a consciousness of depravity. It was the wish of my heart to extricate my country from this doubly-riveted despotism—I wish to place her independence beyond the reach of any power on earth. I wish to exalt her to that proud station in the world which Providence had destined her to fill. Connection with France was, indeed, intended, but only so far as mutual interest would sanction or require.

Were the French to assume any authority inconsistent with the purest independence, it would be the signal for their destruction. We sought their aid— and we sought it as we had assurances we should obtain it—as auxiliaries in war, and allies in peace. Were the French to come as invaders or enemies, uninvited by the wishes of the people, I should oppose them to the utmost of my strength. Yes! My countrymen, I should advise you to meet them on the beach with a sword in one hand and a torch in the other. I would meet them with all the destructive fury of war, and I would animate my countrymen to immolate them in their boats before they had contaminated the soil of my country. If they succeeded in landing, and if forced to retire before superior discipline, I would dispute every inch of ground, raze every house, burn every blade of grass; the last spot on which the hope of freedom should desert me, there would I hold, and the last of liberty should be my grave.

What I could not do myself in my fall, I should leave as a last charge to my countrymen to accomplish; because I should feel conscious that life, any more than death, is dishonourable when a foreign nation holds my country in subjection. But it was not as an enemy that the succours of France were to land. I looked, indeed, for the assistance of France; I wished to prove to France and to the world that Irishmen deserved to be assisted—that they were indignant at slavery, and ready to assert the independence and liberty of their country; I wished to procure for my country the guarantee which Washington procured for America—to procure an aid which, by its example, would be as important as its valour; disciplined, gallant, pregnant with science and experience; that of allies who would perceive the good, and polish the rough points of our character. They would come to us as strangers, and leave us as friends, after sharing in our perils, and elevating our destiny. These were my objects; not to receive new taskmasters, but to expel old tyrants. And it was for these ends I sought aid from France; because France, even as an enemy, could not be more implacable than the enemy already in the bosom of my country.

Lord Norbury— ”You are making an avowal of dreadful treasons, and of a determined purpose to have persevered in them, which I do believe, has astonished your audience”.

I have been charged with that importance in the efforts to emancipate my country, as to be considered the keystone of the combination of Irishmen, or, as your lordship expressed it, “the life and blood of the conspiracy”. You do me honour overmuch; you have given to a subaltern all the credit of a superior. There are men engaged in this conspiracy who are not only superior to me; but even to your own conception of yourself, my lord; men before the splendour of whose genius and virtues I should bow with respectful deference, and who would think themselves disgraced by shaking your bloodstained hand—

Lord Norbury— “You have endeavoured to establish a wicked and bloody provisional government”.

What, my lord! shall you tell me, on the passage to the scaffold, which that tyranny, of which you are only the intermediary executioner, has erected for my murder, that I am accountable for all the blood that has been and will be shed in this struggle of the oppressed against the oppressor? Shall you tell me this, and must I be so very as slave as not to repel it?

Lord Norbury— “A different conduct would have better become one who had endeavoured to overthrow the laws and liberties of his country”.

I who fear not to approach the Omnipotent Judge to answer for the conduct of my whole life, am I to be appalled and falsified by a mere remnant of mortality here? By you, too, who if it were possible to collect all the innocent blood that you have shed in your unhallowed ministry in one great reservoir, your lordship might swim in it.

Lord Norbury—“I exhort you not to depart this life with such sentiments of rooted hostility to your country as those which you have expressed’.

Let no man dare, when I am dead, to charge me with dishonour; let no man attaint my memory by believing that I could have engaged in any cause but that of my country’s liberty and independence; or that I could have become the pliant minion of power in the oppression and misery of my countrymen. The proclamation of the Provisional Government speaks for my views; no inference can be tortured from it to countenance barbarity or debasement at home, or subjection, humiliation, or treachery from abroad. I would not have submitted to a foreign oppressor, for the same reason that I would resist the domestic tyrant. In the dignity of freedom, I would have fought upon the threshold of my country, and its enemy should only enter by passing over my lifeless corpse. And am I, who lived but for my country, who have subjected myself to the dangers of the jealous and watchful oppressor, and now to the bondage of the grave, only to give my countrymen their rights, and my country her independence—am I to be loaded with calumny and not suffered to resent it? No, God forbid!

Here Lord Norbury told Emmet that his sentiments and language disgraced his family and his education, but more particularly his father, Dr. Emmet, who was a man, if alive, that would not countenance such opinions. To which Emmet replied:—

If the spirits of the illustrious dead participate in the concerns and cares of those who were dear to them in this transitory life, O! ever dear and venerated shade of my departed father, look down with scrutiny upon the conduct of your suffering son, and see if I have, even for a moment, deviated from those principles of morality and patriotism which it was your care to instil into my youthful mind, and for which I am now about to offer up my life. My lords, you seem impatient for the sacrifice. The blood for which you thirst is not congealed by the artificial terrors which surround your victim [the soldiery filled and surrounded the Sessions House]—it circulates warmly and unruffled through the channels which God created for noble purposes, but which you are now bent to destroy, for purposes so grievous that they cry to heaven. Be yet patient! I have but a few words more to say. I am going to my cold and silent grave; my lamp of life is nearly extinguished; my race is run; the grave opens to receive me, and I sink into its bosom.

I have but one request to ask at my departure from this world; it is—THE CHARITY OF ITS SILENCE. Let no man write my epitaph; for as no man who knows my motives dare now vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them and me rest in obscurity and peace, and my name remain uninscribed, until other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written. I have done.

The Act of Union:

The government in London finally had enough of the mismanagement of Ireland by the Protestant ascendancy in Dublin – they could do a much better job of the mismanagement of Ireland.  In 1800 the two parliaments were joined in London and the Dublin parliament dissolved (and any member of the Dublin parliament who disagreed was bought off….cheap)

Neck

June 2001

Led by song-smith Leeson O’Keeffe (formerly of Shane MacGowan’s Popes), NECK are a 6-piece London – Irish band playing PSYCHO-CEILÍDH: Their songs reflect emigrant and 2nd-generation Irish life; combining the rip-roaring spiritual abandon of Irish songs and tunes with the vibrant electric guitar driven energy of Punk Rock; evident in the line-up of whistle, fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass, drums and vocals – the overall effect is one of total release!

An extensive live schedule has taken their adrenaline-fuelled show all over Britain, Ireland, Europe and the U.S.A.. Each year they play at numerous festivals, including Britains’ biggest – Glastonbury 2000. Plus, gigs with the likes of The Frames, Kila, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, The Popes & ,in 2000, Black 47, The Levellers on their Isle of Wight weekender and playing at Londons’ Mean Fiddler final night party with Shane MacGowan and The Popes, The Men T. C. H., Edwyn Collins and Eddie Reader have helped expand the NECK following. On the day that really matters-St. Patrick’s Day – they kicked off their busy 1999 itinerary by playing live on top GB DJ Chris Evan’s breakfast show on Virgin Radio and Sky TV (both National), topping that in 2000 at London’s Millennium Dome.

NECK have played numerous live sessions on radio stations in London (i.e.GLR), Dublin and New York, as well as on Dutch T.V. and have appeared performing 2 songs in the Belfast-set motion picture “With or Without You” (Film Four, 2000) starring Christopher Ecclestone (Shallow Grave) and Dervla Kirwan (Ballykissangel).

Added to all this, NECK have a very high profile in the Irish press in Britain, with the U.S. folk music and Irish press following suit: New York’s Irish Voice listed them joint 6th in their Top Ten Irish releases of 2000-which included the likes of U2 and Sinead O’Connor! Following two tours in 2000, college and Irish radio in the U.S. are picking up on the band as well, with airplay and live sessions.

2001 has begun with a vengeance:-with a Southern U.S. tour(including Nashville, Savannah and The Carolinas) ;a hectic St.Patrick’s weekend highlighted by going-on after Ed Byrne at Londons’ 1,500 capacity Hackney Empire ; and a tour of Ireland (with gigs in Belfast, Derry, Donegal and Dublin)with a live session on Irish-language Dublin station Raidio na Life, already undertaken. Individually too, NECK’s musicians are gaining recognition, with whistle-player Marie McCormack in demand for solo recitals, while Leeson and fiddler Marion Gray guested with The Alabama 3 at The Camden Underworld. That’s with all three maintaining a well-known presence on the London traditional Irish session circuit!

So in summing-up:this infectious, exhilarating marriage of music and mayhem means that, at least in this case, excess is definitely more!

Neck come out swinging – Interview with Leeson O’Keeffe

November 24, 2009

(S’n’O) First of all, congrats on finally getting “Come out fighting” released in the UK. Why the delay and when can we expect a proper US release?

(Leeson/Neck) Thanks John – it’s a massive relief! Well, it was set to go a year ago, but there were some last minute glitches that, due to tour commitments, we weren’t around to fix. So it got postponed – which gave us & the label time to reflect & it was decided, as Wispy was back off ‘the Subs bench’ to let him overdub some bass parts, re-master it (at the right level), completely overhaul the artwork & get proper PR campaigns working behind the album – which meant putting it back to now to enable all that.

(S’n’O) The title – “Come out fighting” and the fists up on the CD sleeve. I’m guessing there is a statement there?

(Leeson/Neck) Yep – but it’s more about having a ‘pugnacious’ state-of-mind rather than going down the boozer ready for a ruck. It’s down to the title track, which is about those times in life when the shite really hits the fan & you, literally, feel like you’ve gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson & you’re on the ropes, emotionally, with the guy ready to throw in the towel. So you really have to dig deep, & figuratively speaking, get off the ropes, catch your breath, get your balance – put your guard up, set your brow & be downright bloody-minded & take the fecker on! If ye know what I mean…

(S’n’O) I heard a few complaints from long time Neck fans that while the production on “Come out fighting” is 1st class there’s a lot of older Neck tracks re-recorded. Any particular reason why?

(Leeson/Neck) Of course: rather than selling people short, we’re just trying to give them the best we can – we thought that, as this is our first world-wide release, & particularly with legendary producer Pat Collier’s alchemy at our disposal, we had the opportunity to re-visit & improve upon songs that we love & are live favourites, but the previous recordings are either really old or were recorded either so cheaply, in a rush or mixed at silly o’clock with one eye on the clock, that we find them hard to listen to now. We knew Pat could help us do a better job of them. Which we have, and which, it appears, everyone does actually agree with!

(S’n’O) We’ve been following Neck here in Shite’n’Onions for about 8 years and while a lot of bands that started out around the same time as Neck have had a lot of success stateside Neck are still a unknown quantity – do you feel disadvantaged being based in the UK? Any plans to raise your US profile.

(Leeson/Neck) Well, none of our stuff’s been widely available in the US up ’til now (apart from a Heroic effort via your very own ‘Shite ‘n’ Onions’ – named after on of our very own tunes! – with ‘Here’s mud in yer eye!’); Also, the costs of touring & promotion without big label backing make things virtually unfeasible for us. But, despite that, because of the immense support for us over there from you guys – we’ve tried to hang-in there. We know we’re a good band & things are progressing: our two U.S. trips last year were proof of that. It’s just finding a way to make sure people know about us, & now that we’ve got a U.S. label – Abstract Recordings –  who are going to get behind the album, hopefully we’ll get our arses back over there & put together a tour around the album release in the new year.

(S’n’O) Finally, with “Come out Fighting!” finally out. What are Necks next plans – tours, next CD?

(Leeson/Neck) Well we’ve started the rolling UK tour & then, with the album being released in the USA the week before St. Patrick’s Day, it makes sense that, if it’s at all possible, we need to be in the U.S. for that – so we need to get onto things like ShamrockFest in DC, etc. to ensure that. Then we’ll be touring the album in Europe in April, with more dates & festivals all over the place to follow throughout the summer into The Fall / Autumn – so 2010 may be our busiest year ever! Release-wise, we’re starting to work on the next Neck album, & we promise it will defo be all new material.

(S’n’O) There’s also a rumour of a CD of covers already recorded, any truth in that?

(Leeson/Neck) Yes indeed: we’d already recorded a covers album (with Pat) before ‘Come out Fighting!’, but it was ultimately felt that it was better to put out an originals album as a first release. It was inspired by Johnny Rogan’s writings &, is, subsequently, ‘Necked-up’ versions of songs by other 2nd & 3rd-generation Irish artists – from Johnny Cash to The Libertines. It’s a testament to our contribution to popular music & how far we’ve punched above our weight! The front cover & title’s actually our best-selling T-shirt ‘Plastic ‘n’ Proud’ (‘Plastic Paddies’ is a derogatory term – so we’re turning the insult on it’s head, like black folk do with the ‘N’ word). The version of The Sex Pistols ‘Anarchy in the UK’ is already reaching cult status! (there’s a clip on YouTube of 5,000 people singing along to it at Glastonbury festival)!.

Neck: Leeson O’Keeffe talks some PSYCHO-CEILÍDH-BABBLE

September 2001

Led by songsmith Leeson O’Keeffe (formerly of Shane MacGowan’s Popes), NECK is a 6-piece London-Irish band playing PSYCHO-CEILÍDH. Their songs reflect the emigrant and second-generation Irish life experience: combining the vibrant spiritual abandon of Irish songs and tunes with the rip-roaring electric guitar driven energy of Punk Rock. This heady mixture is evident in the line-up of whistle, fiddle, banjo, punky guitar(s), bass, drums and vocals – the overall effect is one of total release! Individually too, NECK are recognised musicians in their own right: with whistle-player Marie McCormack in demand for solo recitals; while Leeson (occasionally with fiddler Marion Gray) has been guesting regularly with The A3 (Alabama 3), from TVs’ “The Sopranos”. -That’s with all three NECK players maintaining a well-known presence on the London traditional Irish session circuit! (From Neck’s Bio)

The following interview was carried out over a serious of emails with Leeson O’Keeffe and Marie McCormack.

(S’n’O) Celtic Punk is exploding in the US have you checked out The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly yet ?

(Leeson O’Keeffe) “We’ve shared column inches with Flogging Molly from day one since we’ve been coming here (the US that is), but we didn’t hear them until we were given a tape of Swagger by a guy who was coming to our gigs in October last year & I think they’re brilliant (we actually do a cover of “The Worst Day since Yesterday”! – it’s one of the best songs that Shane never wrote! – it’s a corker!).”
“We’ve seen The Dropkick Murphys twice in London and again, we think they’re brilliant – I’ve never heard “The Rocky Road to Dublin” done like that before in my life! – but it’s brilliant! and it’s great that they all sing at the same time on the choruses in those massive Boston ‘Irish’ accents, and that the crowds are so typically punk’n’daft! Wicked stuff! – you just stand there (Down the front me?-I should co-co!-I’ll leave that to Marie – she went down the front at The Underworld show in Camden – her boyfriend got biffed, but some unkind souls found that highly amusing….I wonder who that might be then? MOI?-perish the thought!) with a beer in yer paw, tapping your foot with a dirty great grin on yer face! -It’s fuckin’ brilliant to think that there are people thousands of miles away, who grew up completely different to you, but are doing something that is on completely the same wave-length! The feature in Broadside fanzine was brilliant!”

“I’m chuffed -to-fuck about the whole thing. I just hope that the U.S. bands like what we do as much as we like them – I would love to do a gig with both bands – but particularly Flogging Molly, because we are so similar-for my money, they’re the best punky Irish band since The Pogues and that includes everyone! Dave Kings’ a very good song-writer, although his voice is an acquired taste when he goes for the high notes-when he stays down ,it’s great-particularly on ‘Worst Day’, the start of “The likes of you again” & “the whole of grace of God go I” deadly! and he’s from Dublin!(can’t be bad-we’ll have none of yer culchie bollocks around here now!) Anyway-y’know what I mean?”

(S’n’O) How have you gone down in Ireland?

(Leeson O’Keeffe) “It’s been a dream come true – I was very apprehensive at first (coals to Newcastle & all that, and I know that The Pogues had a nightmare when they first went over) but probably thanks to the Pogues, it’s all different now. I mean Dublin now is predominantly a dance town, like London, Manchester or Kansas City (?!) but there is still a thriving live music scene and outside of Dublin (we’ve been to Derry, Belfast, Waterford, Letterkenny, Draperstown & Dublin) live music appears to be doing o.k. altho’ Belfast again, has a huge dance thing going-on; even in staunch Nationalist areas like Ballymurphy in West Belfast they’re all into Tall Paul, as well as people like The Wolfe Tones, of course. But then the best gig we had in Belfast was there!”

(S’n’O) So what have Neck been up to recently?

(Leeson O’Keeffe) “We’re just back from a “craicing” tour of Ireland, taking-in gigs in Derry & Dublin (including one with The Alabama 3), a live radio session, three Festivals: The Waterford Spraoi, The West Belfast Feile an phobail & The Derry Gas Yard Wall Feile (the last two were with the incandescent Undertones! -we got paid to watch The Undertones!!!!!)-jumpin? Jaysus! AND—–then there was the POITIN!!!!!”

“Also the regular trad. sessions are still occurring every Thursday in The Twelve Pins, Finsbury Park & every Sunday in The Queen, Brixton (both 9 p.m./no cover) London”

(S’n’O) Explain the “Plastic and Proud” logo and what is a “Plastic Paddy”?

(Leeson O’Keeffe) “Obviously, I’m paraphrasing the “say it loud: I’m black and I’m proud” slogan, just in the same way the T-shirt paraphrases the Sex Pistols. (Whose singer-John Lydon, whose parents are from Galway & Cork – grew up down the bottom of my road and did have bricks thrown at him as a kid ‘cos he was Irish. Incidentally, round the corner from him is a pub called ‘The Favorite’, where Tom McAnimal from The Popes grew up. It was one of the main traditional session pubs in London in the 60’s and 70’s, and as such, played a hugely important part in the social-life of the Irish-Emigrant community (particularly for those living in digs) – as all those pubs did, and still do. No wonder this area’s known as Co. Holloway!) We – the second-generation Irish in Britain- get called Plastic Paddies (I believe in the U.S. our equivalent are called ‘narrow-backs’) as a derogatory term by the first-generation Irish-because we’re not “the full ticket”. I personally don’t give a toss, it’s just a daft name, but there are contemporaries of mine who find it ignorant and offensive. -So the idea is to turn it on its head & reclaim it: if you call yourselves it, it takes the sting out of the intended ‘dig’, if y’knowwotahmeen…. and,of course, I am proud to be second-generation Irish – so if that means proud to be a “Plastic Paddy”, then that I am: I had no control over the place of my birth, but I choose to hold an Irish passport – I feel I’d be a hypocrite not to, doing what I do. -phew”.

(S’n’O) Would you ever let Ronan Keatin cover a Neck song?

(Leeson O’Keeffe) “Boyzone did a version of “She moved thru’ the fair” (my niece has the album-honest!) and James McNally (Afro-Celt Sound System-brilliant band!!!!) plays in his band as a session player I dunno, if he paid us loads of wonga and he had to do it in a NECK stylee, then maybe. Actually I think doing something with Shane Lynch might be a bit cool, he stuck -up for his missis with all that carryon when Puff Daddy (Puffy Daddy got beating up by Lynch) was in Dublin. EXCLUSIVE NEWS: we are working on some new T-shirts, which will please the Plastic Paddy callers, they’re just gonna say “DUFF PADDY” -geddit? I know, we’re being naughty little ironic tinkers. We could do some tuff jams & break-beats and then diddly-aye all over it!”

(Marie McCormack) “As to Ronan Keating: we’re happy to write songs for anyone but can his leather trousers cope with the crazy mad rocking that performing a Neck song would entail and could he cope singing songs about Irishness, when he is a bit of a m.o.d. croooner – watch the lawyers on this one! But we do not wish to blacken the name of Ronan and take it in vain when he very likely will end up the President of Ireland at some time down the years!”

(S’n’O) What was it like growing up Irish in London?

(Marie McCormack) “I didn’t know any different , it was just as things were. Nevertheless, this is how I recall growing-up: My upbringing was a little unconventional anyway-having the excitement of a pub to grow-up in: unlimited access to coke and crisps (potato chips) until my dad said who do you think has to pay for those when the auditor comes round, etc. etc.

I did Irish dancing instead of modern and tap unforced by my parents, whistle lessons rather than piano lessons, a complete uninvolvement with music competitions but mucho Irish dancing and medals galore for that. Always asked to do impromptu performances: ‘Ah, will you play a few tunes on the accordion/ whistle for…’, ‘The Sally Gardens’ reel being a popular one and ‘Boolavogue’ (watch the spelling for the weepy eye section). Donning harp medals on St. Patrick’s day -never enough shamrock from granny!

First Sunday in July- a proper Irish festival in Roundwood park in ‘County’ Kilburn in London (huge Irish area): stalls from every County; Irish soda bread ; step dancing; Irish dancing and a big parade.

My sister and I carting our dancing shoes to Donegal every summer and the ‘little English girls’ ‘entertaining the natives’ to a display of dancing in Egans on a Saturday night drew a big crowd: handed over the crown in later years to two more ‘little English girls’.

I only remember being asked once if I was Irish or English by Mrs Dunphy in Navan and actually had to think about that one: came down on the side of second- generation Irish( a sgi !).

Val Doonican on the telly on a Saturday night -oh yes! Must have claddagh rings (the secret sign!) until Argos stores started selling them 4 or 5 years ago!

No obvious signs of racism in school cos the majority were second generation everything – during the 70’s tension in air re: bombings and relatives questioned by the Metropolitan Police C.I.D. when they got off the boat train in early hours of the morning on their way to a wedding. A ban on ‘The Sun’ newspaper when it advised the public not to buy Kerry Gold butter, as an anti-Irish reaction. Others not so fortunate in securing their Irish identity, but that is their story and I cannot speak for them.

(S’n’O) Long term ambitions for Neck?

(Marie McCormack) International travel; the band that made a contribution to the world of music -make people happy; for some members, obviously, (whodatden?) to get laid around the world – watch this for future prospective brides. Memorable songs that enter the psyches of the world; and to have a bloody good laugh along the way!

We don’t live in the future but we have an eye to it, the journey thus far has been incredible and long may it continue -oh: and to play the London and New York Fleadhs 2002!

Fuck the messers and begrudgers !

http://www.neck.ie

Neck w/The Swaggering Growlers/The Beantown Boozehounds/The Gobshites – The Beachcomber, QUINCY MA (September 18, 2008)

The Beachcomber is really my kind of bar, having a mix of all the right ingredients for a perfect dive; including a multi-decade history of Irish and Celtic-inspired entertainment, a cheap and crappy pizza that was the best food on earth at a blurry 11:30 PM, and a decent stage area that can hold a larger band of six or seven.

And it was that stage was the whole point of the evening. A four-band bill with Neck headlining could’ve been held anywhere and turn out awesome. It just so happens that it was here, and it did.

The show opened with The Swaggering Growlers who set the pace for the evening with some good energy despite the fact that the audience was still arriving. Their set was comprised of some material from forthcoming recordings, some covers, and a decent-sized handful off of their (highly recommended, by the way,) CD, “THE BOTTLE AND THE BOW,” including two of my favorites off of that release, “Greetings (from the Unemployment Line,)” and “Dover Tenement.”

The following act was The Beantown Boozehounds, who I was unfamiliar with prior to the evening. Their sound was a far more straight-ahead punk sound with dalliances into the Celtic influence only on a few songs and due almost solely to the inclusion of the mandolin by one of the band’s two guitarists. Each song the band played came off tight, solid and rockin’ and as the crowd had grown considerably by this set, (to include a number of obvious fans of the Boozehounds, regurgitative and rowdy,) they upped the ante of the evening further.

The third act of the evening was The Gobshites, who, (after a bit of mopping up of the sprayed beverages from a particularly demonstrative Boozehounds fan,) took the stage as if they owned the place. Their noise was huge and wide with a full-boat of trad. instruments and a big bag of variety about their songs. I knew that the band toured furiously, but I hadn’t seen a full set from these guys before. I was fully impressed.

By the time Neck came on, it had already been a great night. Mr. O’Keeffe and co. sounded the balls as they tore through some stuff from their awesome SOD ‘EM & BEGORRAH, (“I Turn My Face to the Four Winds,” and “Every Day’s St. Patrick’s Day,”) as well as material from some earlier recordings, (like “Topless Mary Poppins” and “Hello Jakey!,”) some songs from a forthcoming release, (“Come Out Fighting” and “Ourselves Alone,”) and some impossible-not-to-include songs, (like “Star of the County Down” and “Everybody’s Welcome to the Hooley.”) The band even threw out a bit of the ol’ céilí music for a professional step dancer in the audience, (the sister of yours truly,) if only for a moment or so. Had a survey been taken at the end of the night, everyone in attendance would have agreed the evening was one metric shitload of fun all around.

As one of the biggest, and most highly regarded and respected bands in the genre, a Neck show is not one to be missed. This show was no exception. All the supporting acts were in excellent sound and Neck kicked some serious arse. Everybody was great, approachable, and ego-free, and I had a fantastic night with a few pints of black, meeting some new friends and hearing some of the best music made.

Review by Christopher P. Toler, THE Blathering Gommel

Neck -The Burren, Somerville MA (September 19, 2001)

Neck were back in the USA, “Loud’n’Proud’n”Bold” for their forth US tour in just over a year with a completely new backing band (are Neck the Whitesnake of Celtic Punk and if so then is Leeson, Dave Coverdale and Marie then Tawnie Kitten?), an older, more mature and tighter group then the previous line up.

The Burren is arguably the finest venue for traditional Irish music in the North East if not the entire country. In the front bar there is a trad. session 7 nights a week and the back room usually plays host to national and international folk and roots rock bands.

The back room was almost full when Neck took the stage at about 10.30, Leeson cracking a joke that most of the audience would clear out within 30 seconds of them starting, almost a true statement as within the first three songs most of the casuals, after work crowd and those with more mellow taste cleared out to the sanctuary of the front bar, and by the end of the night it was just those who had come for Neck and a drunk Texan red neck screaming for a guitar solo. Neck have really turned up the guitars way past eleven since the Psycho-Ceile EP taking cue from the Dropkick Murphys and especially Flogging Molly (right down to a cover of “The Worst Day Since Yesterday” with some C&W guitar), though I do think they have lost a little of the punkieness of before, now hidden somewhere behind the guitars. Leeson’s, on stage banter was as entertaining as ever (if you can get beyond the accent) and Marie McCormick is definitely one of the best trad. musicians on any scene. The set was a mix of originals from PC, Necked and the upcoming CD, Irish standards punked up (A man you don’t.., Foggy Dew, Sean South, Star of the County Down, Fields of Athenry, Back Home in Derry) and an impromptu version of Fairytale of New York tacked on to the end of the set. Biggest complaints was the sound gremlins causing much fiddling around between songs by the band and the fifteen minuets interval mid set that to me seemed to cause the band to loose a lot of momentum and take away from what could be a very powerful live set.

In summary I really think Neck will be the next big band to break thru to (almost) the big time like FM and DKM, with some luck, hard work and a label willing to put some dollars into getting them there.

Neck: Come Out Fighting

January 4, 2010

Anyone who’s been a long time reader of S’n’O will know that we here at Shite’n’Onions towers have been long time fans of the London based underdogs. In fact we nicked our bloody name from a Neck instrumental. So it’s with confidence we can say that not only is “Come Out Fighting” Neck’s best to date but it’s also one of the best Celtic-punk releases ever! In fact I could argue that both the band Neck and release “Come Out Fighting” defines what Celtic-punk is. Neck are rooted with one foot in Celtic music and one foot in punk unlike any other group. The attitude is punk, the guitars are strung with razor wire and so feckin incredibly loud!!!!!!!!! the band is steeped at the same time in traditional music – this isn’t a case of a band looking up the Clancy Brother on iTunes for material – this stuff is in their blood. If you’ve never heard Celtic Punk before and wonder what the fuss is about then there isn’t a better introduction then  “Come Out Fighting” (and oh yeah Pat Collier did an amazing job on the production)