Andy Irvine celebrates the International Brigade

Andy Irvine celebrates the International Brigade  
MUSICIAN/ singer/ songwriter Andy Irvine will play in Limerick this weekend as part of the City of Culture festival. He will bring his exciting new fusion of Irish and World Music and an impressive repertoire of Irish traditional songs to a performance that is the centrepiece of this weekend’s festival, ‘Even the Olives were Bleeding’
Andy Irvine 3891 Brian Hartigan
 ‘Even the Olives were Bleeding’ celebrates the six Limerick men who travelled to Spain as part of the international Brigade to fight for the Second Spanish Republic.
The organisers explain that, “These International Brigades were military units made up of volunteers from different countries who fought in the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939.”
Ireland was one of many countries who came to the aid of the Republicans in Spain. Limerick will now be on the list of international cities that has a memorial erected in memory of this sacrifice. The evocative title ‘Even the Olives were Bleeding’ is taken from the famous last words of Irish poet Charlie Donnelly as he was dying under an olive tree at Jarama in February 1937.
“This festival will be a celebration focusing on the olive branch as the international symbol of peace,” say organisers. The festival hopes to shine a light on the cultural and political climate in Ireland in 1936-1939 and the reasons that lead to six Limerick men’s impetuous journey to war torn Spain.
This weekend expect film screenings, historical walking tours, cultural and poetry workshops, seminars, traditional music sessions and of course Andy Irvine in concert.
Irvine in over 40 years in music has travelled the world with bands such as Sweeney’s Men, Patrick Street, Planxty and more recently, Mozaik
He began touring as a musician in 1965 with Sweeney’s Men leaving the band to travel through Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia, studying their music traditions and styles. It was from here that Andy adopted the bouzouki into his performance and forged his own style of Gaelic/ Balkan influenced sounds.
He formed Irish music legends Planxty with fellow musicians Christy Moore, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn. Planxty were at the forefront of igniting the popularity traditional music again in the 1970s. His work with Paul Brady produced the seminal ‘Andy Irvine and Paul Brady’ album in 1976.
He is a patron of the festival and insists that organiser Ger (Geri McCloskey – PRO) is the one who should get all the praise for getting ‘Even The Olives Are Bleeding’ organised in Limerick when Limerick Post contacted the musician this week.
Andy was just at the end of a very rare two weeks off. We wondered if a musician can ever really separate himself from music for that long. He laughs, “I’m just looking around this room at all the instruments that are hot from my fingers at the moment. I’m afraid that there is no peace from that at all. I’m always practising, every morning I do three hours. Like an athlete, if you give up running for a few weeks you are not going to be very good at it when you get back on the track.”
At the young age of 72, Andy is still an elite athlete in music and continues to tour the world with his new band Mozaik as well as Patrick Street.
‘Even the Olives were Bleeding’ runs at various venues at the Strand Hotel, the Mechanics Institute and City Hall from Friday September 12 to Sunday 14.
Andy Irvine with support from Peter O’Malley performs at 69 O’Connell Street on Saturday September 13. Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny’s Mozaik play Dolan’s on Friday October 10.
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