“The soundtrack of my deepest fears.” Why now was the right time to release my new single. #NALLY

nally-mysilentnight-1450pxLet me introduce you to ‘My Silent Night’, a song I wrote a few years ago but was waiting on the right time to release it. The song was three quarters of the way through the production stage when I pressed pause on it. That was November 2013 and I was exhausted. I didn’t have the energy or interest to release the new songs I had begun writing and producing so I put everything on hold and trusted that I’d know when the time was right for me to release the song.

Fast forward three more years and with a renewed energy and a deeper sense of understanding of myself, I am happy and proud to share ‘My Silent Night’ with you. It’s an eerie little song, definitely a lot more moodier and ambient than my previous singles. It’s inspired by the traditional ‘Silent Night’ that we all know. I thought it would be cool to take the idea and structure of the original and create something alternative, something dark. The song begins with whispering. I actually recorded myself saying ‘You’re not good enough’ backwards, which was good fun even though it was tricky. The producer Martin Quinn then decided to reverse that phrase again to really mess things up. Recording this song was so much fun. I didn’t want to create something for radio, I just wanted to create something that was totally me and to my surprise it all came out a little off centre and a lot less mainstream. I have to say, I’m very happy with that. Creating easily digestible, popular music to get on the radio is fine in the case where someone asks you to write a catchy hook or phrase that stays with the listener for hours, days maybe. But I just wanted to make something that was interesting to me. Maybe it’s the music nerd in me. I’m happy to know the little secrets behind the various layers of the music. Even if no-one else gets it, I do and I’m more than happy to share the detail with anyone who asks. It may all seem a little selfish but I wanted to be able to stand over my new releases and say, yes as weird and wacky as it may be, they were my choices and my preferences.

My first few years releasing music taught me I could handle the mainstream stuff. I know how to put together a good pop song. But as an artist in my own right ie. NALLY, I didn’t want to do that anymore. Plus let’s not beat around the bush here, I’m a lot older now. When I made my first EP, I was 27 and then at 30 I left my job to focus on writing and releasing music. I’m now 37 and while I don’t see that as a bad thing, I am inevitably more aware of who I am as a songwriter and also as an artist. I deliberately separate the two now. In the beginning, it was all the one; an experiment in music.

Before signing off, I’d just like to explain what ‘My Silent Night’ means for me. I already explained that I pressed pause on releasing it in 2013 when it was well into the production stages. While I had gone through a tough few years up until then with short bouts of burnout and depression, the song never felt more attached to me as it did when I found out this year that my body wasn’t exactly working efficiently enough for me to have children without the help of specialists. It took months for the news to sink in and while I am still a long way from understanding how I feel about it, I know that my whole identity took a knock. The one role in life that we feel is a given, a certainty, a role we put off stepping into while we define ourselves in our careers.. All of a sudden, I hadn’t a clue who I was or what I was meant to do. And that is exactly what ‘My Silent Night’ stands for. It will mean something different for other people and that’s great. I love that about music. But for me personally it’s about my identity and the if’s and buts I now have in my life since I got that news. Some fears are temporary and some last much longer. I am a very positive person in life but I also learned over the years that we need to honour all our emotions, sit with them and accept that they are there so that we can find a way to feeling better in ourselves.

And here my friends is my musical take on what those fears and anxieties sound and feel like. Hope you enjoy… (this is a free link to listen to the track but if you would like to support it further, you can purchase it on iTunes for 99cent or any good digital stores. Stream it on Spotify, Apple Music etc) Links below..


PS. Have a close look at the artwork. Maybe now that you know the background, the contents of the image will make sense.










Trying out the Trad #NALLY

trad fiddleAround 10 years ago, I was playing a lot of Irish traditional music, in seisiúns and with friends etc in my local town of Dundalk. I decided to try and write some ‘tunes’ even though I didn’t know if there were any rules or do’s and dont’s when it came to writing in this style. So I just went for it. I decided on jigs in 3/4 time and I called them ‘July Jigs‘ (click to hear them)  I was very nervous playing them in front of the pro’s – the musicians who are out there every week playing polkas, slides, reels and jigs etc but they went down well and nobody refused to play them so I suppose that was a good sign 🙂

On Friday night next, I will be playing them again for the first time in many, many  years and I feel a little bit more confident this time round. I’ve lost some of that shyness and have decided to embrace that whatever I create should have a chance to be heard, liked or disliked!! I am busy rehearsing them this week and I am so looking forward to being joined by lots of musicians on the night, including a great flute player and piper Patrick Martin who will also play the uileann pipes on an air I wrote called ‘This Heart‘. I will also be performing a new ballad called ‘Stephenstown‘. It’s all in aid of Louth Hospice and the night is being hosted by The Crawley Family, who are a super talented group of musicians from Gyles Quay. Tickets are already sold out so it’s looking like a great night of music for a great cause!

Here’s a short video of me preparing the jigs for Friday night’s gig 🙂

Trying out the Trad

A Musical Canvas…


So last month, I decided it was time to inject some colour into my artist shots and I organised the first of two shoots that I plan on doing this year. Being independent always gives you great freedom in your decision making, although with that freedom comes a great big load of responsibility, which can be a little daunting….

The result is a selection of very colourful yet somewhat abstract photos and I thought a short blog post on how these shots came to be and the concept behind them might be of interest to some of you.

I began the photo-shoot process on Pinterest. Pinterest is AMAZING, there are no other words for it. I have used it for the last few years to compile all my visual ideas into one place. It is like an Aladdin’s Cave for ideas. I discovered very early on that two very strong styles of shoot were coming together so I made the decision to separate them rather than get completely conflicted about the shots I wanted. Shoot one, this one, consisted of all the visuals that were quite playful, fun and full of bright colours so I decided to work with that style of shoot first. I also wanted to build something quite abstract into the shoot, something people might ask questions about. I used the set as an opportunity to create that wonder. As you will see, there are seven white canvas’s displayed around me, each one with a block colour splashed on to it. They represent the seven single releases I have had to date. Each one has it’s own place in what I have done to date and by putting them all together, it brings me to where I am now. Hence, the reason why I represent the amalgamation of all the colours you see around me.

I have reservations about some of my decisions on this shoot but overall I am happy with the outcome. I went back to my friend and photographer Mark McGuire to take the shots for me as we have worked well together on other shoots and knew he would ‘get me’. 🙂 The set and styling itself cost me very little, (I had a miniscule budget)…in fact it was less than €50 to put it all together, using things I had already and some supplies from an art and crafts shop, some white piping and lots of items you would find in a primary school art cupboard!!

It was great fun and I am delighted that the shots capture a bit of my more playful side… Shoot two will happen at the end of the Summer and I look forward to bringing those shots to you then!! Thanks for reading xx


Do these briefs fit?

Do these briefs fit?

I was recently asked to pen a song for an Irish company, more about which will be revealed soon! However, I did want to share my thoughts on writing to a brief, something I have not generally done, certainly not at this level and with a lot of responsibility attached.

I genuinely wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. It actually scared me to be so deliberate in my writing processes. Not just in lyrical content – that had to match the company ethos and standards, even their name had to be included but also in musical direction, style, tempo etc whilst taking into account the target market and of course the company values and presentation.

Even as I was presenting the first draft of the song to the client, I was unattached, not convinced I had done a good enough job. Looking at it now, it’s clear that it was down to the fact that it was so far removed from where I am as an artist and how I’m used to writing and producing that I couldn’t find an attachment with it. I also more importantly realise now that I didn’t need to. I didn’t need to love it or feel a special bond, it just needed to fit the brief and whilst work on the song is still ongoing, I’m feeling much more confident about it’s ability to fit in with the company.

I also learned one more very valuable thing throughout this project… The fact that the song is not stylistically or lyrically representative of ‘me’ is a wonderful thing. The freedom in that is amazing. In the studio, I put my corporate hat on and looked at it from the outside in and not the inside out if that makes sense. Listening back to it now as it’s in the final stages, I am incredibly proud of producing something totally not me at all! It’s really great fun and whatever comes to be of this song, I will have very fond and enjoyable memories of putting it together. In fact, I can’t stop listening to it. It’s a songwriting aspect of me that I didn’t discover before, possibly didn’t even believe it was there and that’s a buzz if ever there was one!

Now to see if it fits the brief… Watch this space 🙂


‘Just For Today’ Lego Animation Music Video

Last year I met a lovely young family from my town. Their Dad had only just passed away and wanted me to know that my music had been a great source of enjoyment and comfort for them. It was such a bittersweet introduction. I met them at the grounds of the church for the first time, just as the funeral was leaving the church to go to the graveyard. I promised them there and then that I would visit them and perhaps play some music with them. We met a few months later and spent an evening together having great fun and even jammed together. They showed me their Lego animations and I was really amazed at the standard and the work that went into their productions.

Fast forward nearly 12 months later and I have this absolutely gorgeous Lego animation video for a song they chose off my EP ‘Just For Today’. I am so proud to have my music part of this. We released it on the 20th January and all proceeds from the sale of the song go to an Irish charity for depression called ‘Aware’. I hope you enjoy it and please take time to read their story in the video description! Thanks, Sinead

‘The Ballad of the Tiger’

I wrote this poem earlier this year and then wrote music for it. I am in the process of recording it and filming a video so that I can share it online with you all.  I hope the poem and the song will help people grieve for the many difficult changes and losses in their lives over the past 5 years and perhaps help us all to move on and have hope for the future..

‘The Ballad of the Tiger’ by Sinéad McNally

We’ve all been a little bit downWe’ve taken a beating but we never made a sound

All the bruises and marks on our skin are sinking in

Building dreams by digging holes

Concrete fields and show homes

Forgotten dreams now it’s all gone to waste

On the ghost estates


They spent, they lied, we lost we cried together

They spent, they lied but we’ll work and we’ll rise together


Lining up instead of clocking in

Moving out instead of moving in

All we own for sale on the cheap just to make ends meet

We carry on as our loved ones disappear

For a better life in a place overseas

Two clocks ticking on the wall telling times abroad


They spent, they lied, we lost, we cried together

They spent, they lied but we’ll work and we’ll rise together


Savings schemes, government bonds

They kept on giving until it was gone

No convictions for the debt that they caused, we took it all

A nation’s loss is another one’s gold

They sit round tables and tell us what we owe

It’s you and me and the people next door who feel it more


They spent, they lied, we lost and we cried together

They spent, they lied but we’ll work and we’ll rise together

They spent, they lied but we’ll work and we’ll rise together


‘All we hear is radio gaga’

Queen’s 1984 hit ‘Radio GaGa’  is a song about radio’s loss of importance in people’s lives following the development of video and stations like MTV. They tell the story of how radio “made ’em laugh, made ’em cry, you made us feel like we could fly” and in many ways, mourn the loss of it’s role in everyday life “so don’t become some background noise”.

It’s quite ironic that nearly 30 years later, I am writing a blog post on just how significant radio is in my life and in the lives of original artists, bands and songwriters. In fact I am going to go so far as to say that it is more significant to me right now than any other form of music revenue; gigs, merchandise, music sales. Gigs cost a lot of money to run, travel is expensive and venue hire is costly. Unless you are a well known and established act, money from merchandise will really only serve as pocket money in the early days especially when you have to make back all the money you spent on it. And as for music sales….

For the past 3 years, I have supplemented a proportion of my previous income through cover gigs, piano teaching and performing at weddings, corporate events etc. Outside those income sources and hours worked, I have also worked an additional 30 hours per week without any pay in order to set myself up and dedicate as much time as possible to myself as an artist and songwriter. I knew it was always going to be made up of very long hours, hard graft and a lifetime supply of patience and finger crossing in the early days!

However, I have actually been very lucky in the early years of my career as a songwriter in that every few months or so, a lodgement is made into my account from IMRO (Irish Music Rights Organisation) with my earnings from radio play and somehow those 30 unpaid hours every week start to feel somewhat worth it. Whilst the amounts are small in proportion to the hours worked, it is a huge reward of spirit, energy and self-esteem. It opens up the possibility and hope that it will amount to a reasonable annual salary one day.

My point of this blog is that the relevance of radio in the life of a songwriter or original act is enormous both financially and emotionally. It is also extremely relevant to the regrowth of the Irish economy, perhaps an income source that the government have overlooked for a long time. If I make a living in this country through the broadcast of my music, I will stay in this country and put that money back into the revenue stream. It’s common sense. Millions of euro leave this country in royalties to overseas artists and their representatives every year. Millions…

(I was delighted to read today that TD’s had met with a delegation of Irish music industry representatives to discuss the possibility of increasing the percentage of Irish music played on Irish radio to 30%)

Whilst I know it may not be as black and white as I make it, I do know that if the government, the BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) and the radio stations witnessed the look of sheer delight that appears on my face every few months when my work is financially rewarded, they wouldn’t think twice about making positive changes as soon as possible to make it happen over and over again all over the country! It seems like a very simple move forward??? Irish people would get the opportunity to hear more music from their own artists, radio stations could capitalise on new business opportunities working with new independent music businesses and labels and more of our songwriters and artists could actually make a living out of their unique trade.

“You had your time, you had the power, you’ve yet to have your finest hour”. For some reason, this quote from Radio GaGa feels very appropriate and true at this very moment in time…
 Radio GaGa, written by Roger Taylor,Queen