Christy Moore has been one of the leading lights of Irish folk music for more than 40 years.
He is not only a celebrated solo artist, but also a founder member of one Ireland’s most successful groups, Planxty.
He is known for the power and passion he brings to his music, which often has a marked social and political edge.
He has produced numerous successful albums and has helped to make Irish folk music popular across the world.
Moore was part of the second wave of musicians who followed in the wake of the 1960s folk revival, inspired by performers such as The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, The Chieftains and The Dubliners.
Moore was born in 1945 in Newbridge, Co Kildare. As a youngster he worked in his father’s grocery shop. Moore was 11 when his father died and he only has faint recollections of him. One thing he remembers is that he enjoyed music and was always whistling and singing.
His mother also enjoyed singing and playing the piano.
Banking on a career as a singer
Moore worked in a bank after leaving school. When he was 21 there was a bank strike that lasted for six months. The strike gave him time to focus on his true calling: traditional music. He spent the entire time practising and by the end of the strike he decided not to go back to the bank but to follow his passion instead.
While still developing his identity as a musician, Moore was heavily influenced by the Irish singer and storyteller John Riley. Riley, who was a traveller, taught him many Irish ballads, including As I Roved Out, which was later to become a standard number in Christy Moore sets.
Moore’s relationship with Riley helped him to understand the difficulties faced by travelling people and he often championed their cause throughout his career.
Moore honed his skills in folk clubs in England
In 1966, Moore moved to England and served a long musical apprenticeship playing in small folk clubs.
The English folk scene was vibrant at that time with lots of venues for young singers to gain some stagecraft.
Moore began to rub shoulders with the leading performers of the day such as Ralph McTell, The Fureys, Martin Carthy and the legendary folk music champion Hamish Imlach, who helped him with advice and encouragement.
Ewan MacColl and emerging political awareness
Then in 1969, Moore met Ewan MacColl, a man who was to have a profound influence on his musical style. Moore was already a politically aware performer but had not begun to include social issues in his songs. That changed when he came across MacColl.
Moore later told the Living Tradition folk site: “In 1969 I sat on a stage in London with Ewan MacColl and the penny dropped. Here was a man singing in the traditional style, but his songs were socially relevant and about today.”
Moore then began to introduce social and political issues into his own songs.