By Mike Fitzpatrick
You know, we could write a book on the musical adventures that Tipperary native Noreen Ryan’s experienced during her time in New York and Ireland, but sure, she wouldn’t read it, she’d be too busy gigging, laughing, touring and watching Father Ted.
The multi-instrumentalist Noreen, a renowned whistle and bodhran player from the famous musical Ryan family of County Tipp, is one of those characters you’ll not forget in a hurry.
Seriously, we tried once. Having shared a stage with the likes of Black ’47 and Davy Spillane, during her time as a member of traditional Irish acts such as The Tain and the eclectic Avenging Disco Godfathers (with former ‘At The Mike Standees’ Dave Barckow and Sue Wendelken), and sitting in for countless sessions with Kenny Mannion, her brothers Donie and Pio Ryan, Tony de Marco, Bernie Fay, John Redmond, Dave Fahy and many others, Noreen left her beloved New York three years ago.
She’s now back in Tipperary, where she’s a founding member of Tradstone, a band which plays trad and Celtic rock, with some of their material relating to Ireland’s current troubled economic climate, and the ongoing plight of immigrants to and from the Emerald Isle.
When the documentary about traditional Irish music in America is eventually produced, be certain that Noreen Ryan will feature prominently.
Naturally, you’ll hear her infectious laugh, but also, her wonderful talents for haunting melodies, majestic trad anthems and raucous reels which would leave a centipede with itchy feet delirious on a dancefloor. Noreen, welcome to At The Mike Stand.
What would you like your own tribute act to be called?
‘The Noreen Ryan Experience!’
When’s the last time you laughed out loud?
Ah sure I’m always laughing I even wake myself up laughing. How bad is that?
What act would you like to have seen perform live?
The Man In Black himself, Johnny Cash.
What team(s) do you support?
The All-Ireland Champions Tipperary!
What period in history would you most like to have visited?
I’d like to have had a stint in most of them except the gory medieval times although the garb looked cool.
What song would you most like to have written?
‘I hope that I don’t fall in love with you’, by Tom Waits. So beautiful.
Who or what, would make you leave a room?
A politician and/or banker because they stink of greed and more greed.
What decade rules (and why)?
The ’60s for breaking away from the ’50s first of all, and for music, fashion, freedom to be who you want to be, and just all-round coolness.
What cover version do you most enjoy performing?
I’m a trad-head so it’s tunes most of the time.
What movie role would you like to have played/play?
Anything opposite Robert De Niro.
Have you ever been told you looked like somebody?
Yes, my mother.
What’s the first album you remember buying?
‘Black Rose’ by Thin Lizzy.
Who’s your favorite Beatle?
I’m not a fan, I know that’s not something I should admit to but they don’t turn me on, what can I say?
What’s your favorite Christmas song?
‘Fairytale of New York’.
Who’s the most rock and roll person who ever lived?
What artist/song/genre do you secretly enjoy listening to?
I love heavy rock and that stiff neck feeling the next morning!
Who would you most like to meet/have met?
Again, Johnny Cash, he rocked.
What book can you read again and again?
Pass ask me a sports question!
What’s the greatest album ever recorded?
There’s so many I’ll go with The Band by The Band though, goosebumps all the way.
What artists would you most like to have played with in the band of your dreams (supergroup)?
This is my Trad supergroup, Well I’d have to have Shane MacGowan anyways just for the craic alone, then John Joe Kelly on the bodhran, Andy Irvine on mandolin/bazouki and vocals, Declan Sinnott on guitar, Andy M. Stewart (vocals, banjo, whistle)… and Trevor Hutchinson (stand-up bass) wow I wonder could that happen?
What do few people know about you?
I sleep with my eyes open!!!
What sitcom character can you most identify with?
Mrs. Doyle (you know making tea and all that).
What movie can you watch over and over again?
‘Withnail & I’.
Who’s your favorite cartoon character?
Peter Griffin from ‘Family Guy’.
What’s the greatest place you’ve visited?
New York, I miss it big-time.
What’s mankind’s most wonderful invention?
Music of course.
What’s mankind’s most irritating invention?
Damn alarm clocks.
Who’s the funniest person who ever lived?
Who’s your favorite namesake?
Noreen Bawn is all I can think of not too many Noreens out there.
Who’s your favorite character from literature?
I haven’t done a whole pile of reading in my life but Huckleberry Finn hit a chord it was colorful and profound.