Folk Alley Music: Local Musicians have been performing online

By Aideen O'Flaherty

Ballyfermot’s rich and longstanding folk music scene, which has produced leading musicians like The Fureys and Liam Weldon, shows no signs of slowing down – even in the midst of a pandemic – as a collection of local musicians have been performing online in recent weeks.

Among them is Folk Alley, a trio made up of Amy Malone on vocals, bodhrán and whistles, Derek Copley as a tenor vocalist and banjo player, while Paddy Abbey sings and plays guitar in the band.

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Folk Alley performing on stage

Pre-pandemic, the band regularly performed at Downey’s Pub in Ballyfermot. Since then, they have performed online for the Ballyfermot Arts Festival and have been posting videos of their performances on their new YouTube channel.

Folk Alley have also been recording their debut album at various points over the past few months, as and when restrictions allow.

Paddy and Derek from the band took some time out to tell The Echo about how Folk Alley was formed, who their main influences are, and what plans are in the pipeline for the band in the near future.

How did you all meet each other, and why did you decide to form Folk Alley?

Paddy: Myself and Derek have known each other for years. Derek also played in another group with Amy for a few years before it broke up.

At one stage, Amy got in touch with me to play at a wedding with her as she needed a guitarist. It went well so we decided to give it a go; we then asked Derek to join us on banjo and started on the pub circuit.

Soon after we got going, we started what turned out to be a great little session in Downey’s Pub in Ballyfermot.

That session – among other regulars – was going strong since 2016, until you-know-what. We will be back in Downey’s, but obviously have to wait until we get the go-ahead.

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Amy, Derek and Paddy

Who are your main influences?

Derek: Well, sometimes this is the hardest question to answer, because you don’t want to leave anyone or any genre out. But, as a group, our repertoire would consist of a lot of Dubliners, Christy Moore, Sweeney’s Men and Mary Black songs, as well as a strong emphasis on traditional dance tunes.

What's the best gig you've played so far and why?

Derek: In 2019, there was a great push on the arts in Ballyer. I’m involved in the Ballyer Trad Hub, which promotes traditional music from the area, as well as encouraging people to get out and play music.

Through the Ballyer Trad Hub, we ran a number of successful Open Mic nights in the Civic Centre which allowed us to perform on the main stage to a full audience.

As well as this, we had the chance to perform on the big stage in Markiewicz Park as part of the Ballyfermot Festival, 2019. It was a scorcher of a day in July and the place was packed, with people young and old dancing around the football pitch as our group, along with loads of other groups, played that day. It was one of them days that everyone looks back on and smiles.

You've been recording your debut album over recent months, what has that experience been like?

Paddy: We have about five tracks that are halfway through production. We had made a great start before Christmas, but the way restrictions came back in made things a bit more awkward for us all to meet up. We’re just waiting to get back at it ASAP.

What plans are in the pipeline for Folk Alley?

Derek: The album will be the top priority…or maybe the session in Downey’s! I’d say, once we get the OK to resume that session, they’ll have to get armed guards to take us and the punters out of the bar!

A couple of videos to go along with promoting the album are being lined up too, as well as some enquiries from different venues.

Where can people find out more information about the band?

Paddy: We have a Facebook page called ‘Folk Alley Music’, and we have some videos on YouTube also, just search for ‘Folk Alley Ballyfermot’.

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