It was Luke Kelly who first brought me to hear Paddy Reilly sing. "He's the best is the business", said the red-haired Dubliner. Kelly wasn't just being kind. Nor was he adopting the 'folk singerr's folk singer' bit. After that first evening in Mick McCarthy's Embankment in Tallaght, I have become a Paddy Reilly fan.
One of the first songs I heard him sing was "The Ballad of Matt Hyland", a compelling love tune with a brilliant melody line. I very pleased to learn that this number is featured on this album. The rest of the tracks are carefully balanced and show case the great talent of the ex-factory worker, who has become established as one of the leading folk singers of our time.
There is comedy and pathos and love in the songs Paddy imparts on this album, they suit the make-up of the man, but he's more than just a balladeer. He's an entertainer in every sense of the word. Catch any of his 'live' shows around the country and you'll see what I mean. I think this long player will give you a understanding of his kind of music
I would say that the biggest tribute to Paddy Reilly was paid at his wedding recently when all the Dubliners, Jim McCann, Shay Healy, et al, climbed on stage to provide a musical backdrop to some of the songs he has here.
There is a story told, too, of the other musical side of Paddy Reilly. He was a 13 year old school boy and when a two week season of opera was staged in Dublin, he never missed a performance. It happened like this. At the cash box, the young boy with his five shillings clutched in the palm of his hand was told that cheap seats had been sold. An elderly gentlemen in evening wear saw the boy's plight, called him over and said: "Here's a special box ticket for every show. My wife loves opera, but I cannot stick that sort of singing".
Paddy Reilly spends a couple of months of the year in Boston, where his wife Dianne hails from. They like him over there just as much as we do here. But we have this album to keep us going, until, you might say, Paddy Reilly comes back.
Sunday Press Columnist