“People are starting to be more in tune with talking about Irish unity”


Of course Andrew Hendy, one of three Mary Wallopers vocalists, has opinions on the furor that engulfed the Irish women’s national football team after they sang ‘Ooh aah, up the Ra’ after they qualified for the cup. of the world next year. In particular, he takes aim at the Sky Sports News presenter who asked Chloe Mustaki ‘if education is needed’ around singing.

“It was very condescending. And also the audacity of a British media to say it was ridiculous for an Irishman,” Hendy begins. “It’s crazy that people are starting to talk about murder and stuff like moment when the slightest republican sentiment shows itself, but the British Empire has the blood of millions on its hands.”

Along with his brother Charles and their friend Seán McKenna, Hendy enjoyed a phenomenal rise with the Mary Wallopers, a trad band whose cult following exploded during the various Covid lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 due to the regular live streams that they have made it from a converted shed to their home in Dundalk. They have since sold out dates across the country and released their self-titled debut album on their own BC Records on October 28.

They also say they know hundreds of traditional and folk songs. So let’s get back to this song, ostensibly from the Celtic symphony of the Wolfe Tones. It’s a “soccer song at the end of the day,” Hendy says, “and a chorus that contains Republican sentiment, but it was so, so unfair to the team that it happened.

“But I think what’s positive is that it seems almost everyone in the country was like ‘they didn’t do anything wrong’. And I don’t know if it would have been the same there. 10 years ago. But there seems to be more of a thing in the country now where people say, ‘you know what? colonialism was awful.’ And it’s OK to say that and it’s OK to make fun of the Brits, because they deserve it. If all we can do is make fun of them, we have to.

Although he says this with a smirk on his face, Hendy is not kidding. “When we say about the British, we say about the British government and colonialism – and colonialism is wrong, whether it comes from France, Portugal, Britain or America. It’s all wrong. And for me of course I love Ireland but for me it’s not just Ireland v England it’s good versus bad so we never stop talking about it because it important to open up the conversation and get people thinking about what’s right and wrong.

He adds: “We never stop – it’s more important than the music, really. That’s what music is for, in a way, especially for us. The only reason we play music is because it’s a way to fight injustice.

Growing up in Dundalk, Hendy says talking about the political situation is extremely important. 2If I go to a friend’s house five minutes away, I get a text saying I’m in the UK. And I have done all my life. He is constantly there.

Hendy also says he wants to see the island of Ireland vote as one. “The change I would like to see is that there is no Church or border in the country.

“It’s getting better. The power of the church is diminishing. And also people are starting to be more in tune with talking about Irish unity and republicanism, and Irish pride. And I think that’s great I think that’s good Irish people have more faith in Ireland… it’s going to take a long time to heal but it’s a product of oppression that Irish people are so sorry for rebelling most of the time.

The Mary Wallopers are sitting on their first album for a long time, having originally recorded some of the tracks five years ago. The group has since grown to seven members for concerts.

“We really wanted to capture the live energy of our playing,” says Hendy, explaining that they turned down various record labels to release the album on their own. “They make money ripping off young creatives starting out, then they leave them on the sidelines and they keep going. If an offer is good, obviously accept it. But if not, stick to your guns.

So far, sticking to their guns has worked for the Mary Wallopers. As for the goals, it’s quite simple: “We just need to make money. I just want to be able to survive. I don’t really care about anything else. If I can just play music everyday and then have a house to live in. And food.

  • Selected dates for the Mary Wallopers extended Irish tour: Thursday 17 November – National Stadium, Dublin; December – Cyprus Avenue, Cork; Wed Dec 28 – Mike The Pies, Listowel; Sat 31 Dec – Dolans, Limerick

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