Arts Q&A: Finbarr Clancy on The Beatles, Jim Carrey and Freddie Mercury

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, folk singer Finbarr Clancy

Finbarr Clancy

1. When did you think about a career in music and what were your first steps into it?

My father before me, Bobby Clancy, was a musician with The Clancy Brothers for 40 years. I of course took a keen interest in music and was in a rock band first. I was first in a rock band, but of course I was submerged in folk music all my life and got an appreciation of it more when I got an opportunity to tour with The Clancy Brothers in September of 1985, when my father had a quadruple bypass operation. The High Kings started officially in September 2007. It's our 12th year now and it just keeps building and building.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

I really enjoyed playing at the White House for St Patrick's Day 2010 when Barack Obama was US president. I'm a massive Beatles fan and went to see Paul MacCartney in concert a few years ago in the 3Arena in Dublin and that was a terrific night. And I will always remember Queen in Slane in 1986 with Freddie Mercury.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Jimmy Hendrix, Elvis, Ringo Starr, Bob Dillon, Neil Young, Johnny Cash and me as lead singer, of course.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island?

Probably The Beatles Greatest Hits.

5. And the book?

An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean, about the boy who accompanied Ernest Shackleton in the Antarctic at the turn of the last century.

6. Top three films?

Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET and the original 1977 Star Wars movie. I was seven years old, it was the first film I'd ever seen on the big screen and I was completely blown away by the special effects.

7. Worst film you've seen?

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. I walked out after seeing the opening credits of Jim Carrey kicking the box down the road. I thought it was stupid and wrote the film off. I have seen it since though and enjoyed it.

8. Favourite authors?

George Orwell and JRR Tolkien.

9. Sports you most enjoy and top team?

I'm a Tipperary man and I'm delighted we are the current All Ireland Hurling Champions.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Hawaii. I was performing on a cruise and we stopped off at the Hawaiian Islands. My wife and I rented a car and saw palm trees and colourful parrots flying around openly. It really was like the postcard pictures.

11. Pet hate?

Queues at Christmas.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Steak and chips.

Dessert? Crème brulee.

Drink? A glass of Argentinian Malbec.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

My first cousin, Colin Power. We started hanging around when we were about 12 years old and have been friends ever since.

14. Is there a God?

Yes, I like to think there is. There are many different types of gods. I believe that energy cannot be created or destroyed only changed from one form to another.

:: The High Kings are currently touring Ireland. See them in Armagh's Market Place on December 12, Belfast's Ulster Hall on December 13, Omagh's Strule Arts Centre on December 14 and Derry's Millennium Forum on January 29. Their new single, Christmas the Way I Remember is out now. Visit

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