Anthony McCartan

Our dear friend and colleague Anthony McCartan, founder of the group, died of cancer on the 4th of September 2004. We will never forget him. His songs will always remain in our repertoire. His musicality and originality continue to inspire and influence us.


Anthony Mc Cartan

Although I was exposed to Irish traditional music from an early age it wasn't until I was thirteen that I bought my first folk record. I don't know where I got the money from. It was £2.00 from Smithfield market in Belfast. Children were not allowed in pubs, where the sessions were free and lively. People sang in the house. There was always the radio and singles, like " Carrickfergus " by the Johnstons and the Dubliners were popular with hits like " Seven Nights Drunk " (which I didn't really understand until much later).
My mother took us to see the McPeaks. I went to Irish dancing lessons and I loved the Ceilidh music but decided to quit when I considered what my mates would do to me if they saw me in a kilt. Men don't wear skirts. My sisters did and they continued. Girls were envied by their mates because the costumes are really pretty and short skirts were in and the nuns couldn't beat them because it was traditional.
The record was " Sweeny's Men " (Topic), a milestone in folk recordings : Andy Irvine later Planxty, Terry Woods later Woods Band, Steeleye Span and Johnny Monaghan who inspired me to steal a recorder from school so I could play along to his whistle tunes.
My sister was going out with a professional player, Gogy McCullogh, and when he saw this he gave me a real tin whistle and took me to Pat's Bar for the session. I was still under age but the police never went there. I took my whistle and hitch-hiked to Italy playing on the street. I went round Ireland playing for pennies in remote pubs. Then I went to England and learned the guitar and mandolin and joined a group (along with two of my dancing sisters) that had gigs in Germany and France where the group folded and me and the banjo player, Jeff Coombs, started the Churchfitters.



Film "In and Out Belfast"

a documentary 73 minutes long by Gilles Jouault and Franck Galbrun - 2003

Résume :

After thirty years of exile, Anthony McCartan from Belfast decides to return for the first time to his native town. A voyage both personal and symbolic made at a time when Northern Ireland is trying to find a solution for lasting peace.
Anthony McCartan is a songwriter and musician. By tracing his past in the Belfast of his adolescence, through his songs and his encounters with the Irish people he meets and members of his family living in exile in Great Britain, we witness the emotions of a man rediscovering the country from which he fled because of the civil war he didn't understand... A film both poetic and political which gives us an impartial look at the future without denying the past.

A co-production by Candela and TV Rennes with the participation of the Churchfitters and the support of the Conseil Régional de Bretagne and the Centre National de la Cinématographie.

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