Originality and how falling out with my own music made me appreciate it more!

So what do Groucho Marx, a difficult drumming score and CRAZY eye-lashes have in common? Well, somehow or another their paths crossed in a small, two bedroomed house on the east coast of Ireland in 2011, when I set out to create something original! 🤔


Music ‘originality’ is highly questionable. After all, there are only 8 notes in an octave and 12 keys to choose from. On top of that there are fundamental rules about how we move around those keys and notes. So inevitably, music is repeated and copied and repeated and copied and repeated and copied…. Most music we listen to reminds us of another song or piece of music we listened to, so being TRULY original is very, very difficult.

I released ‘Moody Blues‘ in February 2011 and I was super proud of it. It did very well for me and received lots of praise and radio play, becoming a very popular choice on morning radio for its’ energy and message. However, less than 3 years later, I actually didn’t want to perform it anymore. I was a little embarrassed by it. The cynic that had begun developing in me was not, excuse the pun ‘in the mood’ for it anymore. It was a little too cheesy for my liking and it hadn’t opened any ‘serious’ doors for me. Embarrassed as I am to say it, I didn’t care for it anymore and I left it out of many if not most performances.


Fast forward 7 years and naturally life has changed me. It changes everyone year by year, experience after experience. My focus on ‘serious’ doors opening for me and being levitated into music industry fame pissed off about 2 years ago thank God, when real life came along and bit me in the butt a few times. Life softened me, despite facing some of my hardest moments and eventually I remembered to look at the whole, sweet, glorious picture.

I had become a musician who forgot the importance of being a creator. I had become a musician who depended on likes and shares and being ‘cool’. As much as I tried not to be musically driven by what people liked and what 2FM or Today FM were playing, I tried to be part of that gang. I burned out trying to fit in. Last night funnily enough, I had a dream about meeting a group of girls who I went to secondary school with. And guess what, they were the same bunch of assholes in the dream as they were in secondary school. Only, this time I was SO relieved not to be part of their gang.

Somehow or another, Groucho Marx, a crazy set of eyelashes and a nifty little drumming score were put together because I had ideas. Musical ones, lyrical ones, visual ones. And with a determination to see that vision through, ‘Moody Blues‘ came to life. Of course someone has already sung some of the lyrics and there are lots of chord progressions and melodies that have been played a million times before but the way in which those elements are presented and arranged because of the vision behind it are what make it original. Anyone can reproduce something that’s already done by changing it up a bit but originality lies in the commitment to a new way of presenting and arranging the musical content.

<I’m very proud of the song despite there being things about it that aren’t all that ‘cool’ anymore or ever maybe 😮 Because art is really just a moment in time, original because of the creator not because of the tools. Credit to Martin Quinn in Jam Studios for his incredible ability to produce and understand my mad ideas in studio and the very generous team behind the video production who survived on tea and crisp sandwiches. Finally to the beautiful venue that is Darver Castle in Co.Louth for letting us use their home and venue for our fun and games.

Thank you, chat soon x


Nally in Wonderland


NALLY Illustration

Nally in Wonderland – Photo and Design by Paul Connolly Digital Artist

So here’s what happens when a songwriter with some crazy ideas meets a digital artist with the talent to make those ideas come to life! I wanted my 2017 images to be really imaginative and full of colour. I came across Paul’s work early last year and really loved how he could take a regular image and transform into into a magical, wondrous version of itself. So I knew he was the right person to work with on the new imagery and couldn’t be happier with the outcome..


The image captures so many elements of what I do and what I’m about and it gives me the chance to showcase ‘NALLY’, in the quirky, fun and creative way that I would like to be perceived.

Big shout out to everyone involved in this project. Paul and his lovely partner Alma and the beautiful Aoife Rogers Makeup Artist. Go check out their work.

Hope you like the new look… XX

“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.









Photo Fantasies #NALLY

So today, I had my first meeting with the photographer I am going to be working with for my re-branding images. Paul is a digital artist who I discovered on Instagram. I was immediately drawn to his work because I love the way he can take a shot of a regular image and transform it into something more fantastical and surreal.


St. Peters Tin Church at Laragh by Paul Connolly

We took a look at my Pinterest boards where I keep hundreds of images I love and discussed how we could use them to create something unique to me. The images below are two of the images that I have really been inspired by. (Image caption credits photographers, external links at bottom of article)

As I explained to Paul, I want to create something quite fantasy like, like a character version of myself. Having worked for 6 years in the music industry, I know how intense and overwhelming it can become. I just want to have fun and enjoy the visual aspects of the music projects as much as the aural. It’s so important to have a real sense of adventure and to just go with that. I don’t want to be afraid or worried about what people think. Everything about the next few releases represents freedom and empowerment to be whoever you want to be.

The next stage is to discuss the shoot ideas with the make-up artist, work out costs and finalise a date and I will post regular updates on how each part of the process is coming along! Finally, during the process of sifting through Pinterest for images that stand out to me, I was delighted to discover the work of a lady called ‘Mary Katrantzou‘. She is a Greek designer with absolutely stunning creations. I’m off now to have a proper browse through her work! Chat soon folks and thanks for being part of the adventures!!

Photographer Links:

Paul Connolly Digital Artist

Huainan Li Behance

Garjan Atwood

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

Getting lost in the music of Colm Mac Con Iomaire…

Every so often I find something magical in the world of music and it’s important to me to share it on my blog. This time, it’s an absolutely stunning piece of music by Colm Mac Con Iomaire called ‘Emer’s Dream’ – I discovered it when I received a list of music for a wedding I am playing at in two weeks time. It literally stopped me in my tracks and as I said in previous posts like this, that only happens occasionally. When it does, I know I’ve found something incredible. Colm is the violinist from the hugely successful Irish band The Frames but his musical heritage goes so much deeper, with roots in traditional Irish tunes, classical music and he has a innate respect for stillness and awareness of self, which really translates in his music. Of course after listening in awe to ‘Emer’s Dream’, I delved deeper into the music of Colm Mac Con Iomaire and found so much more of it to be equally mesmerising.

Time for me to stop typing and for you to go and explore. Find a space to switch off and get lost in the magic.

Colm’s Music Links


Starting from Silence

imageI’ve set myself a challenge to write a song that fits in with the type of songs you might hear being sung in the wee hours of the morning in a little cosy Irish pub. Last Friday I joined in on one of those such sing-songs and sang a couple of my own particular favourites such as ‘Grace’ and ‘Caledonia’ – songs that fit in perfectly with the crowd no matter their age. Songs that usually tell stories of places or events and never age.

Just two weeks ago, I had the joy and honour of spending a few hours with Irish composer Julie Feeney. She is a beautiful, bubbly person who spoke so openly to everyone at The Songwriter Club, giving up her time to tell people her stories about composing and her experiences in the music industry. One thing that stood out to me was her belief in writing from silence, something I’d never really challenged myself to do. So while I was out walking my dog Ollie last Sunday I gave it a try. And the result is a song called ‘Stephenstown’, which is named after the town land I was walking in. The tune and the lyrics came to me pretty much in unison although I had focused on getting the air first. Sometimes they come together and it’s half the battle when it does 🙂 I realised as I was walking in the sun that the various sounds around formed a beautiful soundtrack of their own even without visuals. I could hear sounds from the hurling match in the community sports field, people out in their gardens chatting and it genuinely felt like music to my ears.

“The clash of the ash as the home team attack……a man shouting words to inspire”

I decided on the key of A major and once I get back to the house I recorded my ideas on to my iPhone and took it from there. I have two verses and a chorus written and would like to write two more verses to complete it. I’ve concentrated a lot on painting pictures with the lyrics and less on chord sequences and hooks etc. I hope this is a song I can bring to those intimate sing-songs and have it fit right in with all the other beautiful songs that belong there!

Here’s a short clip of the song which I recorded on my iPhone at home earlier today. Hope you enjoy 🙂 https://soundcloud.com/nallymusic/nally-blog-post-21st072016-starting-from-silence