28 Jun 2022

My Kilkenny Life: Clive Barnes

What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend out in Kilkenny?
If the weather is good a perfect day would start with me sitting in the garden playing guitar for an hour or so. Then a trip into town to visit Rollercoaster Records, which is not only the happiest little record shop in the world it’s also a fantastic meeting place for like minded music fans from Kilkenny. Followed by lunch in Cleere's.

Who has made the greatest contribution to Kilkenny in your lifetime - and why?
Personally it was Willie Meighan who had a major impact on my life in Kilkenny. When I moved here first he went out of his way to help me integrate into the local scene. And after that through his booking international acts Irish introduced me to musicians who eventually took me on tour with them. Willie vouched for me and pleaded a case that I should play guitar for these people, in such a strong manner they all gave. It was up to me then to not mess it up. Most of all I miss visiting Rollercoaster and seeing him behind the counter, what he created and contributed for Kilkenny is huge and lasting.

What's your first Kilkenny memory?
I moved here April Fools Day 2007, I have just stepped off a plane after a month long US tour. I dragged my belongings (which consisted of a few clothes and lots of music equipment) into the new house and walked to town. I really knew nobody. I ended up in Bollards for a pint and just started talking to a guy at the bar, who I can tell you is still a great friend to this day.

What's your favorite part of the county - and why?
I love Woodstock Gardens, in Inistioge. It's a great place not far from the city, and the monkey puzzle walk is a lesson in perspective visually and mentally..

What do you think gives Kilkenny it's unique identity?
As a blow in I think I can view Kilkenny for a slightly different perspective. There are many unique things about Kilkenny, one being, when I travel the country I've never hear anything but positive things being said about the place. People have great memories of visits and it's a place they want to come back to. I also think Kilkenny is unique because for it's size it has to be one of the most culturally vibrant cities in not only Ireland, but in Europe. The festivals, the gigs, the art - it’s year round. The cultural vibrancy in a town this size was the reason I moved here nearly 12 years ago.

Do you have a favorite local writer or author?
I'll turn that question slightly, I have a lot of favorite musicians from Kilkenny. In the early 90's I heard this unbelievable music blaring from my brothers bedroom. I went to investigate because it sounded so good I was surprised he'd got one up on me and for the latest hot new American Rock act. I walked in and asked him who it was he said Kerbdog. I asked where they were from. When he said Kilkenny I nearly fell off my chair. I still love that band and have become good friends with the lads, even started a short lived band Souls with Darragh and Billy a few years ago. The local music scene is fantastic and one thing that I really notice compared to other places I've lived and worked is the camaraderie among people.

What's the biggest challenge facing the county today?
I would say winning the All Ireland. Then again, what would I know, I'm originally from Wexford.

If you had the power to change one thing in Kilkenny what would that be?
Can we make the sun shine like it has lately, for maybe 8 months of the year. Its not too much to ask is it...?

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