Jun 26

“SAY A SONG: The words and music of Philip Chevron”

“The Radiators kicked doors open…and we all walked through”

“SAY A SONG: The words & music of Philip Chevron” was an enjoyable, emotional and very relevant celebration of the genius of Philip Chevron.

Say A Song

The Sarah Lundberg Summer School 2023 at the Sean O’Casey Theatre featured an amazing line up of speakers, performers and video contributions which paid tribute to Philip and examined his influence and legacy. This included some well articulated calls for his work to be included on the English Literature secondary school curriculum, and anyone paying attention yesterday could not have failed to see the value of this inclusion.

Video contributions included Cait O’Riordan, Joseph O’Connor, Phil Odgers and Aidan Gillen.

Phil Mullen (musicologist and friend of Philip) contrasted the conservatism in the vision of Ireland he was born into with that of Philips, and also explored his artistic, political and literary influences.

Phil Mullen

Catherine Ann Cullen explored Philips song writing and lyrics in the context of the Irish emigrant song tradition and within the literary world. She firmly identified the significance of his work and articulated perfectly why it, along with other song-writers she highlighted, deserves a place within the school curriculum.

Catherine Ann Cullen

In a powerful and regretfully still relevant contribution, Eoin Freeney described his experiences of growing up as a gay man in 1970’s Ireland. These were dark days, and Eoin addressed this in necessary and unflinching detail. He described the liberating power of punk rock, which led to his involvement in bands, theatre and activism. While we embrace the changed Ireland, there are still reminders that some of the old attitudes are not too far behind us.

Eoin Freeney

Eoin’s contribution was perfect for an event yesterday, and his final slide showed the ‘Pride Bus’ parked under Clerys clock. As this image remained on-screen, Pete Holidai stepped on stage and performed a beautiful version of the song. Perfect moment.

Pete Holidai Under Clerys Clock

It was noted that Philip would have found amusement in the fact that a number of participants were late arriving after being held up in traffic due to the size of the Pride parade.

These contributions were chaired by Mary Muldowney.

Mary Muldowney chairing proceedings

Mary Muldowney chairing proceedings

The panel: Declan Lynch, Stephen Averill, Michael Murphy, Roger Armstrong and Pete Holidai
The panel: Declan Lynch, Stephen Averill, Michael Murphy, Roger Armstrong and Pete Holidai

The afternoon session featured a round-table discussion chaired by Michael Murphy, in which Stephen Averill, Pete Holidai, Roger Armstrong (Chiswick Records) and Declan Lynch (journalist and playwright) discussed their experiences of working with Philip down through the years. Some great stories, and some amazing insights into the creative genius that he was.

Panel in action

In addition to the on-screen and recorded pieces , live performances throughout the afternoon included Catherine Ann Cullen with a traditional emigrant song, Tony Black with a version of ‘Faithful Departed’ and East Wall actor Anto Seery delivered a powerful spoken word rendition of Philips anti-racist song ‘Heugenot’. All the performances demonstrated the versatility of Philip Chevrons lyrics , and how they can be interpreted and presented in so many different styles.

Tony Black "Ballad of the Faithful Departed"

Tony Black “Ballad of the Faithful Departed”

Anto Seery "Heugenot"

Anto Seery “Heugenot”

The reception area of the Sean O’Casey Community Centre displayed an exhibition of posters designed by Stephen Averill, featuring a selection of images of Philip and his lyrics. Inside the Theatre there was a selection of memorabilia loaned by Pete Holidai, including an original t-shirt, badges and promotional material. A selection of Philip’s scrapbooks, chronicling the bands early days were amazing to see.

Stephen Averill and Conor Horgan
Stephen Averill and Conor Horgan

Deborah Blacoe

The event was opened and closed by Deborah Blacoe, who shared with the audience the story of her brothers childhood and youth, where his love of theatre originated and her own relationship with Philip and his art. She recalled that as children he bribed her with coloured pencils and comic books to join him in his youthful stage productions, until she got old enough to get him to accept that the stage wasnt for her. She noted the irony of once again standing on stage due to her brother – “the coloured pencils are still working”.

On behalf of the East Wall History Group, Hugo McGuinness presented Deborah with a pristine quality edition of her fathers book “The lost Theatres of Dublin”.

Hugo and Deborah

Deborah generously shared her memories and stories of Philip and helped bring him to life for the audience, offering great insight into someone most of those present knew through his writing and performances. She finished the day off with a quote from Sean O’Casey, which she felt, given the building we were in, perfectly concluded a day celebrating Philip :

“I have found life an enjoyable, enchanting, active, and sometime terrifying experience, and I’ve enjoyed it completely. A lament in one ear, maybe, but always a song in the other”

SAY A SONG stage


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: