Kieran O’Mahony talks to legendary accordionist Sharon Shannon ahead of her concert in Allihies
THE village of Allihies will once again ring to the foot-tapping beat of Sharon Shannon and Alan Connor when the duo play Allihies Hall on Saturday, February 6th. The concert is a fundraiser for Cahermore National School with some local children getting to perform as a warm up before S haron and Alan take to the stage.
‘We had a lovely time the last time when we were down so we’re looking forward to it and it’s such a gorgeous place and we’ve played the hall there too,’ said Sharon Shannon told The Southern Star.
‘I just love West Cork and especially the West Cork people We will be playing all the old favourites from down through the years as well as a few new sets of tunes that we throw in for good measure. We usually like to keep everyone happy.’
Sharon and Alan Connor have been playing together for nearly four years now when they play smaller gigs, but he also plays as part of the bigger band too: ‘Alan’s main instrument is the piano but he also plays the electric guitar and he does a lot of electronic stuff too, so it’s a very big sound, it almost sounds like a big band playing as he uses loops for that big sound.’
2016 is already proving to be a busy year for Sharon and she will be busy touring all over the world having already played several Irish dates.
‘We’re going to Canada and also to New Mexico, which is new territory for us. We actually met the guy who is organising the gig for us in New Mexico when we played in De Barra’s in Clonakilty. He’s really determined to make it work and he’s been working hard and he’s got in contact with local musicians there too and we’re going to be doing some collaborations with them too, which should be interesting,’ added Sharon.
As a committed vegan Sharon has also been dabbling in cooking and her stint on the television show ‘The Restaurant’ went down really well where she was the first guest chef to do an all vegan menu on the show.
‘I was absolutely thrilled to be part of it. My initial reaction when I was asked to do it was absolutely no way, as I would have hated to do it. I had watched the show before and liked it, but I didn’t want to be on it,’ added Sharon.
But a little persuasion from her manager convinced her otherwise: ‘My manager asked me to think about it and how significant it would be for me having spent years promoting vegan food. I don’t consider myself to be a good cook or anything like that but it was a huge big challenge for me, I did it for the animals and not for myself.
‘The reaction by the judges was amazing and I was really surprised at how positive they were.’
Continuing on the vegan theme, Sharon and Alan will perform a full live show for a pop-up vegan event at Nick Munier’s Avenue restaurant on Valentine’s Day. Not only is she playing there, but Sharon has also devised the full vegan dinner menu.
‘When I was asked if I would be interested in taking part in this vegan experience, I was absolutely thrilled so I did a good bit of research and found some nice recipes and did a good bit of experimenting here at home and liaising with Nick and the chefs at the restaurant.’
Such is her passion for vegan food that it has already been suggested to her that she should produce a vegan recipes book in the future.
‘I have come up with a good few things already so I’m keeping a note of everything. I’ll keep it in mind but I wouldn’t have that many recipes but I suppose I could be working on it.’
• Tickets for the fundraising concert with Sharon Shannon and Alan Connor in Allihies Hall on Saturday February 6th at 8pm are available from O’Sullivan’s Shop and the Post Office in Allihies, Spar in Castletownbere and from www.sharonshannon.com. Tickets are €25. A free bus service will operate on the night for the concert and the two main pick up points will be from The Wild Atlantic Bar in Adrigole and at the Square in Castletownbere. To book a seat on the bus contact 087-7943221.