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The Whistle Blower – Album [2018] & Tour [2019-2020]

by admin on October 11th, 2018

My new album ‘The Whistle-Blower’ was released in late 2018, and is available for sale during my 2019 tour. A digital release of the album is available via Bandcamp at: and at CD-Baby at

CD release of the album will follow.

Tour Dates made possible with Arts Council funding
* Sat 5th Jan – The Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray, Co. Wicklow
* Sat 12th Jan – Glór Theatre Ennis (studio room) Co. Clare
* Sat 19th Jan – Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin
* Sat 2nd Feb – The Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre, Armagh, Northern Ireland
* Sat 16th Feb – Siamsa Tíre, Tralee, Co. Kerry
* Thurs 21st Feb – Linen Hall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
* Sat 9th Mar – Dunamaise Arts Centre + Theatre, Portlaoise, Co. Laois
* Fri 22nd Mar – The Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, Co. Kildare


    Sat., 11th Jan at the Glens, Manorhamilton, Co. Laois

    This Album is the culmination of a series of Arts Council Awards (2014, 2015 and 2017) that allowed me to explore and express musically how a single traumatic event affected me from the age of 13 into my adulthood.

    My brother Osgur was wrongfully arrested and tortured while in garda custody and forced to incriminate himself for a crime he did not commit. The event in question was known as ‘The Sallins Mail Train Robbery’ or ‘the Sallins Frame-Up Case’, which later gained further notoriety as ‘The Nicky Kelly Case.’ I will refer to it in these notes as ‘the Case’.

    Osgur was one of three men (members of the IRSP) who were wrongly convicted of robbing the Cork to Dublin Mail Train in March 1976. Up to a quarter of a million pounds (nearly €2M in today’s money) was stolen. The men always claimed that they were innocent of the charges and that they were forced by a number of Gardaí infamously known as ‘the Heavy Gang’ to sign false incriminating statements related to the robbery. Under oath, up to 50 gardai denied any knowledge of how the men received their injuries in garda custody. Following the longest running Criminal Trial in the history of the State, in 1978 the non-jury three-judge Special Criminal Court (SCC) accepted the gardai’s evidence and ruled that the men’s injuries were either “self-inflicted, or inflicted by collaboration with persons other than members of the Gardaí”. The Court also accepted the men’s signed alleged confessions as the only evidence to convict them. Osgur Breatnach, Brian McNally and Nicky Kelly received combined sentences of 33 years.

    No money was ever recovered.

    The IRA later admitted to carrying out the Robbery, prior to the Appeal.

    Many Gardaí and Judges involved in the case were promoted to higher office.

    The men were eventually released following public campaigns and court appeals (Breatnach and McNally were acquitted, having both sentence and convictions quashed in 1980), and hunger strikes (Kelly was released in 1984). After a Presidential Pardon (Kelly in 1992), the men received substantial compensation in 1993. It was expected that an independent, public-sworn Inquiry would take place, but this never happened. The fact that no Inquiry was ever carried out continues to have repercussions for our society.

    The Album
    In 2017, I was awarded the DEIS Recording & Publication Award by the Arts Council to compose and publish music in response to my personal experience of this case. Six new musical works followed, some of which were inspired from my collaborative workshops in 2015 with musicians Trevor Knight, Brian Fleming, and Susan McKeown. In order to allow the works to breathe I collaborated with musicians Daire Bracken + Martin Tourish. I am indebted to them for their patience and enthusiasm and for giving these works oxygen.

    The works are performed on whistles, fiddle, and accordion and include spoken words, singing and keening. Other instrumentally-created sound effects symbolise the measurement of time and my internal train journey.

    Each of these works has a direct connection to my narrative, and exposes my personal response to events experienced in my teenage and young adult life.

    The Whistle Blower ‘Out of Time’ Tour 2019
    Following the Touring & Dissemination of Work Scheme Award in 2018, I received additional funding from The Arts Council to publically perform these works with Daire and Martin. A screening of my short film (2015 – 2017) directed by Trish McAdam will be part of the performance. Also, six separate videos by Luis Povedo will accompany the works.

    My intention is to weave three distinct strands: film, dialogue and live music to allow the audience to experience a four-year artistic response. I hope to inspire others to tell their own stories. I believe that my artistic response to this true-life story will resonate with and contextualize trauma imposed by injustice on a personal, communal, national and international level. Human rights are based on the principle of respect for the individual. Bearing witness is our responsibility. This is my story – part of my story.

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