Colm Gray

A local singer and songwriter is to showcase his talents at United Arts Club in Dublin this Saturday.

A local singer and songwriter is to showcase his talents at United Arts Club in Dublin this Saturday.

A fan of his has the details: “Ever since he walked into the Hole in the Wall in February and sang Ewan McCaul’s mining song School Days Over, Colm Gray has not looked back. On hearing the beautiful rendition of the song in the singer/songwriter’s unique Scottish/Kilkenny accent, Dr Conway had one of those visionary moments. Sitting in the recesses of his memory was the story of the Castlecomer mine. Within no time the books and tape secreted in his office were being studied and a series of visits to ‘Comer instigated.

After meeting Seamus Walsh at the Mining Museum and directly exploring the rail line of the 49er Steam Train, the active mines in Glenmullen Wood, the story of Nixie Boran as explored through his daughter Anne and the story of Jack o’ the Castle Butler – who was a habitué of the Hole in the Wall in the 1790s, Gray composed eight new songs. These brilliantly describe such stories and also what it was like going ‘down mine’ aged 14, working on the landing, the multiply nicknamed Brennans, the strikes, pit closure, emigration etc. Video footage was recorded by Dr Conway during the visits to the plateau and a show was mounted with Seamus Walsh as narrator/poet and the young Cuffesgrange man singing. The unique piece of theatre – combining four separate modes – grabbed the rapturous attention of all who saw it.

Indeed, it turned out to be so descriptive that the director of the Watergate, Ger Cody, reported being markedly moved. The four performances to date have been notably supported by the Castlecomer community. And now, ‘In the Shadows of the Mine’ is set to be the first in a series of Hole in the Wall productions to be staged at the United Arts Club, Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin on Saturday.

It could be but a stepping stone not only for the Kilkenny work, but also in the career of one of the county’s most prolific and engaging new singers.

‘In the Shadows of the Mine’ will also feature in Hole in the Wall’s winter Sinterfest Festival in December.