A tour of the islands this summer has taken Marty Ryan aka Anna’s Anchor to eight islands off the coast of Ireland in eight weeks to play eight gigs and complete eight new songs. Along the way Marty has met many interesting characters, played some unforgettable gigs and written a set of new songs.
by Eric FitzGerald
LIMERICK musician/songwriter Marty Ryan is in the middle of a unique tour for his music project, Anna’s Anchor. Every weekend this June and July Marty has visited an island off the coast of Ireland, played a gig, written a song and then recorded and released that song the following week at www.annasanchor.com
Now with two weekends to go in the project that has taken him to eight islands off the coast of Mayo, Galway, Clare, Cork and Kerry in eight weeks to play eight gigs and complete eight new songs, Limerick Post checked in again to hear how the Islands’ Tour is progressing.
The main goal of the project was to have written, recorded and released eight genuine, honest songs of which Marty can be proud. He described the islands as the perfect environment to reach that goal.
“They can be the most beautiful places in the world or the most brutal all within a day. I wanted to do something different this summer that would challenge and inspire me.”
Limerick Post: Just over halfway point, how are you summing up the experience at this stage?
Marty Ryan: “It’s been an amazing experience so far. I’ve met so many interesting characters, played some unforgettable gigs and wrote songs that I’m really proud of. It’s been a lot of hard work between all the travelling and writing but the reaction it has been getting has made it completely worthwhile.”
LP: Are the songs are coming to you very easily?
Marty Ryan: “For the most part, they are. The third song came very quickly and it was finished in a blur but the fourth one took a lot more time and changes with both the writing and recording – but with each island being so different… Mike Gavin of Windings has been recording the songs in his studio. He has been so much help. None of it would be possible without him!”
LP: What has been the reaction at the gigs?
Marty Ryan: “Yeah, I booked it all myself so it was pot luck if I ended up playing in the right pub or not and there were a few people at the first one who were just thinking, who is this guy? None of these songs sound familiar but I had mentally prepared myself for a lot worse. Any worry that I might have had was cast away once we got to Inis Mór. PJ of Tí Joe Watty’s used to play in one of the only Irish speaking rock bands many moons ago and he toured the country so he went above and beyond to make it a fantastic gig and weekend. As a touring musician, I could not ask for more and it felt like such a triumph to go to a place way off the usual gigging circuit and have it pay off like that!”
LP: Any unusual incidents or close calls on the tour?
Marty Ryan: “There’s too many, some probably best kept to myself. There was one drunk guy that owned a yacht and bought €50 worth of T-shirts and CDs for himself out on Bere Island, a possible new target market.
Also, as soon as we pulled up to the pier on the way to Inishturk I knew we were in trouble. The waves were smashing off the pier. It felt like we were in an episode of deadliest catch where the ferry was nose diving so far into the waves that when you looked out the back of the boat, all you could see was sky. I really didn’t want to be the soft city kid that spent the journey with the head over the side of the boat but towards the end of the ferry, my stomach gave way and I had no choice. I will never complain of being squashed into a van with five other smelly guys ever again!”
LP: Has the national publicity had a positive effect on the tour?
Marty Ryan: “Yeah, it really has. That was a crazy few days. The journal.ie published an article while I was out on Inishturk and I had all these radio shows that you’d dream about onto me the next morning. Being DIY is something that’s really important to me, whether that’s making my own T-shirts to sell or doing press and to get that kind of exposure by myself made me feel proud. Since all of that, I have been meeting locals and tourists that have heard about the tour from radio/paper that’s made it seem like a bigger deal and have come out to the gigs because of it.”
Check out https://soundcloud.com/annas-anchor to hear ‘Lawerence’ written on Bere Island, ‘St Enda’ from Inis Mór, ‘Signal Tower’ from Inis Turk and ‘No Place for a Queen’ from Clare Island.
The tour continues this week playing Inishbofin, Co.Galway at Inishbofin House Hotel this Saturday July 18 and winds up on Valentia Island, Co. Kerry at The Ring Lyne on Saturday July 25. Marty’s label Never Meant Records will release a picture book CD featuring all the tracks written on the tour.
“We’ve also decided to do a one off gig where I’ll be playing each song from the project and talking about the mad adventures behind each one,” the singer announced.
The Islands’ Tour gig happens on Friday September 11 in The Stormy Teacup Café, Foxes Bow in Limerick.