EXCLUSIVE BY SEÁN P. FEENY
WELL-known singer Mike Hanrahan said he is very much looking forward to returning to Letterkenny tonight (Friday) when he takes to the stage with Stockton’s Wing.
The renowned Irish band has reunited for a small Irish tour, by popular demand, to bring fans back to one of Stockton’s Wing’s seminal albums, The Light in the Western Sky.
Tommy Hayes, Maurice Lennon, Mike Hanrahan, Steve Cooney and Paul Roche are back together again and two dates into the tour, named after the album, Mike said the five friends are having an ‘amazing time’.
“We have such a huge catalogue of music to choose from and performing it in a theatre setting has been amazing, we are so grateful.
“We all have our own projects and are not in it anymore to get that back record deal, so the pressure is off and we are just enjoying being in each other’s company and playing.”
Over the last couple of years Stockton’s Wing have reunited for a number of special performances, including St Patrick’s Day in the National Concert Hall and the 2014 Temple Bar TradFest, which were unfortunately without Maurice Lennon due to commitments in the US.
Mike said: “When the offer for an Irish tour came, thankfully Maurice was able to make himself available and we decided to test the waters with a small Irish tour.
“We decided to go back to the album that changed all our lives, The Light in the Western Sky (1982) which was the time when Steve (Cooney) joined the band. There is no one better than Steve, so it is great to be playing with him again
“My brother Kieran hasn’t played with Stockton’s wing for years, as he is very busy with his own work, but we are delighted to have another Clare banjo player, Karl Lynch, who grew up on our music, playing with us,” said Mike.
While the band does have festival dates confirmed for the summer, including Doolin and the Fleadh Cheoil, Mike said there are no immediate plans to go further afield.
“We have had requested from festivals around Europe and the US, but trying to get us all together is quite hard, and to be honest, we don’t want to make a career out of it. We are delighted just to get back together now and then to enjoy each other’s company and play our music which is sounding so fresh to us,” said Mike.
Stockton’s Wing, of course, also had its ‘Rock’ period, by Mike said that is an era they are not really missing on this tour. “Playing mainly acoustic allows Paul, Maurice and Karl to let the music flow and we love that on stage as you don’t know where it will take us.”
Mike said it is a real pleasure for the band to be meeting so many young musicians on their current tour. “We played a gig in Cavan the other night and there must have been three generations sitting together in the first row.
“It’s a real honour for us when musicians come up and tell us how they grew up on our music and that it influenced them,” said Mike.
Stockton’s Wing came to the fore in a golden era for music, taken under the wing by their good friends The Dubliners, they became friends with many of the big Irish groups of those days, such as Paddy Reilly, Jim McCann, The Fureys and, Gaoth Dobhair’s Clannad.
“Over the years we often called in to Leo (Brennan) and we have remained close friends with all those bands. It was like a big family back then, we all looked out for each other.
The members of Stockton’s Wing are, of course, no strangers to the music scene, in particular Letterkenny where they played in the old ‘Golden Grill’ on many occasions.
“Letterkenny was always on the circuit and we got to know the place very well. Playing in places like this is like coming home and I’ve had quite a few calls from some old friends who are coming to the show on Friday night,” he said.
The legendary Stockton’s Wing play An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, tonight (Friday) at 8pm. Tickets are available from the An Grianán box office on Tel 04791 20777.