Damien Dempsey’s Christmas shows are among the musical highlights of the year nationwide.
Following up on two sold out shows in Dublin’s Iveagh Gardens in the Summer, Damien is playing a run of six shows in Vicar Street this month, December 16, 17, 19, 20, 22 and 23. In Dublin Damien owns Christmas and these nights have become a thing of legend .
Before all that Damien has to start somewhere and Limerick will be his opening night of this December Tour. And the singer is very much looking forward to getting to the Milk Market as he told Limerick Post this week.
“I get on great in Limerick. I just feel at home there with the people. They just come along and they sing their hearts out. It’s a very spiritual vibration, I think, when you have a thousand people singing as one, arm in arm. Communal singing is very good for all sorts of things, for dopamine, for serotonin, people are on a high for a few days after a good sing song.”
With the news of Shane McGowans passing, these gigs in December throughout Ireland will be especially poignant. Damien knew Shane, recorded the classic ‘A Rainy Night in Soho’ with The Dubliners for his 2008 album ‘The Rocky Road’ (2.5m streams) and he performed at Shane’s 60th Birthday in 2018.
“He is one of the greatest Irish poets that ever lived. And his way with melody was incredible as well. The Lullaby of London, A Pair of Brown Eyes and The Body of an American.
“They are timeless classics. He was one of the best songwriters that ever lived.”
Damien fronted The Pogues at the National Concert Hall for MacGowan’s 60th Birthday celebrations in 2018. He sang The Body of an American with them.
“They were on of the greatest bands ever. Being in front of them singing was like a dream come true, I was pinching myself.
“A lot of the music was down to them as well , the arrangements and there was so much experience there.
“The song went down a storm, I might do that just to honour him in Limerick on Friday.”
From The Dubliners through to The Pogues, to Dempsey and the new kids on the block, The Mary Wallopers, does Damien see the importance of sharing the old songs down through the generations and writing new songs that speak to Ireland today?
“Absolutely, we have a role to pass on the old stories and old songs on. Just to keep the tradition alive.
“It’s really important to keep the sing-song tradition going – because it’s fairly unique. I’ve gone around the world and anywhere I’ve got a sing-song going, they are amazed! And I tell them that this is what we do at home all the time.
“Just sit around and start singing. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Damien is working on a project with Galway Community College, to get the tradition of a sing song into schools where maybe the last half an hour on a Friday, children can gather and sing a song or tell a story.
“We just want to keep the tradition going.”
Damien shared a stage with The Mary Wallopers just last week at the Gig For Gaza for the charity ‘Medical Aid for Palestinians’.
“I had to follow them bucks, The Mary Wallopers last week. They had the 3Arena rockin’
“It was a nightmare following them, they were magical, brilliant.”
With six shows in Vicar Street this month, December 16, 17, 19, 20, 22 and 2. – and all set for a huge welcome from Limerick this Friday for the first show of the tour.
So after all that live work, how does Damien wind down and celebrate Christmas?
I’ll have an ol’ dip on Christmas Day and see all the family. We’ll have a sing song to keep the tradition alive. I’m looking forward to that.”
Damien has a new album on the way in 2024 and plays Live at the Big Top this Friday December 8.