A brief history
Born in Belfast in 1968 to Denis and Olive McSherry, I grew up in Andersonstown (Andytown) in the west of the city with my siblings Tiona, John and Joanne, and spent my early years at St John the Baptist Primary School on Finaghy Road North, having started P1 in 1973 the year the school opened.
In 1980 I moved up to St Mary's CBGS on the Glen Road. It was while I was here that I first started to play music. I was 11 or 12 and my father took us to the McPeakes in Clonard Hall, just off the Falls Road, on a Saturday evening to learn the tin whistle. I did that for a couple of years realising it wasn't the instrument for me when I'd heard a recording of 'Moving Hearts' on the radio. That's when I decided I wanted to play a stringed instrument.
I got my first guitar when I was 14 and my father started taking us to sessions across town in Tom Kelly's bar in the Short Strand and this is where I'd say I got my grounding in Irish music.
A couple of years later we formed a band, 'The McSherry's', and started gigging up and down the Falls Road. In 1984 we played support to Christy Moore in the Old Conway Mill on the Falls Road and again in the Whiterock Leisure Centre the following year.
In 1985 we appeared on BBC's 'As I roved out' along with Frankie Kennedy and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh. Our first big festival gigs were the Ballyshannon Folk Festival and the Belfast Folk Festival in 1986.
We were invited to the Lorient Festival in Brittany in 1987 and this is where I met my wife to be, Kate O'Brien. She was playing with the group 'Déanta' who were making big waves in the Irish music scene.
In 1988 I went to Queen's University in Belfast to study Mechanical Engineering and graduated in 1992. During that time I became good friends with Davy Maguire and Gerry 'Milo' Crossan and together, with my sister Joanne, we formed the band 'Commonalty' and toured Brittany in the summer of '89.
A year previously I was at the Interceltic Festival in Lorient and met up with Siobhán Peoples and John Maloney who I became good friends with. Along with Kevin Crawford, PJ KIng, Pat Marsh and Niamh De Búrca we recorded the 'Grianán' album which was eventually released in 1993, some 2 years after completeion.
I'd have to say that in the late '80's and early '90's Belfast's music scene was thriving. It was at that time that I met Niamh Parsons, Dave Early, Dee Moore and Eddie Friel. In 1990/'91 we amalgamated and became known as 'Niamh Parsons and the Loose Connections' and in 1992 'Loosely Connected' was released.
more to follow....