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Lisa O’Neill – All Of This Is Chance


A couple of years ago Lisa O’Neill fulfilled a lifetime ambition by headlining at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. However, because of Covid restrictions she had to perform in an empty theatre. Or almost empty. Conscious of all the ghosts lingering around the stately Victorian auditorium, she called out to some friendly spirits to become her audience: Hilda Moriarty, who had been a medical student in the 1940s, back when the hall was still part of University College Dublin. Patrick Kavanagh, the infatuated poet twice her age, whom she mocked for only writing about turnips, and who in response wrote “Dark Haired Miriam Ran Away”. And The Dubliners, who set the verse to an ancient folk tune, and recorded it in 1971 as “On Raglan Road” – which Lisa performed in haunting a cappella, feet up on the seats into the dark of theatre.

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But she conjured other spirits too, performing songs by Tom Waits, Ivor Cutler, Nina Simone and, in memory of a beloved relation, “My Pony, My Rifle And Me”, as sung by Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo. “I think I saw Ivor Cutler with Hilda and Paddy earlier,” she muttered, drifting into a…

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