Odhran Murphy: Slieve Gullion is the perfect sanctuary when you need to clear your head

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Co Armagh singer-songwriter, Odhran Murphy

Odhran Murphy
Gail Bell

Up and at it – what is your new morning routine? How has it changed?

I wake up for work at around 7.30am, then have a quick shower, breakfast and straight to work. My day job is a classroom assistant in an Irish school in my home town of Crossmaglen. It's only a five-minute drive, so thankfully I don't have to leave the house too early.


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

Bowl of Corn Flakes.


Probably a Pot Noodle - something quick and handy.I know it's not the healthiest option, though.

Evening meal?

My evening meal varies - my girlfriend is a really good cook and loves trying out new recipes. I love her pasta recipes, especially anything with creamy sauces and loads of spices. And steak nights are a favourite too.


Have you been able to work from home – if so, how have you found it?

During the day I work in a school as a classroom assistant and when we were off during the lockdowns, we still had a lot of preparation work to get through. As I'm a musician too, I do all my writing from home. Obviously, during the lockdowns all my gigs were cancelled, so I did a lot of online gigs and made short videos to engage with my fans - and also for my own mental health. It was so strange not going out, performing live, and it was hard to get used to. My TikTok videos went viral, getting more than 100,000 views, though, so that was a bonus.


Best/easiest lockdown meal?

Pizza and chips. Anything you can just stick in the oven, basically. Handy and tasty.


Weekend treat?

I do love a Chinese takeaway. I've recently bought a Ken Hom cookery book as I really want to learn how to make a Chinese meal from scratch.


How have you kept physically and mentally fit during lockdown?

My brother is really into his sports, so he kept me going through lockdown. We enjoyed running and playing football together. I live near the stunning Slieve Gullion, so it's the perfect sanctuary when you need to clear your head and get a bit of peace and quiet. I get a lot of inspiration for writing songs when I'm out walking in the fresh air. I've recently joined a gym too, and at the minute I'm loving it and getting a real buzz from exercising. I try to go three times a week.


What has been your daily outdoor exercise?

I play football every Monday and Wednesday night so it keeps me fit while having good craic with my friends at the same time. I walk as much as possible too.


How do you relax?

Writing songs really relaxes me and also just playing music. I grew up in a musical household and all my family are musical, so even during the lockdowns there was still a lot of music and laughter at home. I like listening to a lot of music to help me relax. My favourite artists are Passenger, Damien Rice, Dermot Kennedy, Kodaline, Hudson Taylor, Gain James and Paolo Nutini.


Teetotal or tipple?

I do enjoy a few beers at the weekend, but now I'm back gigging and rehearsing loads at weekends, I rarely get to drink as I'm always driving.


What book are you currently reading?

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I've read it before, but it's a timeless classic and the inspiration behind the Lord of the Rings movie. It's brilliantly written and full of fantasy, adventure and intrigue.


Best Netflix?

Best Netflix has to be the American serial drama, Prison Break. I binged on this series during lockdown and watched all five seasons. The storyline has so many clever twists.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself?

I always stay true to myself. This is reflected in my honest, open songwriting too.


On a scale of one to 10, where have you been in relation to cabin fever and where are you now?

During lockdown I was a solid 10 - not being able to see friends and head out for a chat was difficult. The worst feeling was not being able to go out and perform. Thankfully, I'm currently at the low end of the scale, now that gigs are back on and we are returning to a 'new normal' with greater appreciation for friends and family.


What are the three things you missed most during the beginning of lockdown?

Friends, football and playing live music in venues with real audiences.


Where will you go and what will you do when restrictions are fully lifted?

I will try and play as much music as possible in different venues and hopefully get to indoor concerts and festivals soon.


Biggest gripe?

People who have bad manners.


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Family always comes first.


Any new skills or hobbies?

I love cooking with my girlfriend, even though I'm still not very good at it.


What would you like to see change for good when this is all over?

To be mask-free.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

Yes, I think it has. I am still very cautious of who I meet outside of my own friendship bubble.

Singer-songwriter Odhran Murphy (22) is making a name on the local music scene with his blend of pop and folk. You can hear his work through his social media and Spotify.

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