Elaine Donnelly

My name is Elaine Donnelly, the youngest of ten in my family, nine girls and one boy, I was born and reared in Springhill Avenue, West Belfast, I grew up playing music, my Daddy and his forefathers and mother were musicians, We played our instruments every day and did our Irish dancing. My dad has his own show band and accompanied Ruby Murray on her first hit album. He was Andy Donnelly, my daddy played the five row accordion which he passed onto me when he died, he also played guitar and saxophone, I started playing piano when I was three, by ear, when my sisters were finished I’d sit and play all the songs they played, I played the piano accordion and when I was old enough my daddy let me play his, in my teens, my daddy’s accordion was like gold dust to him, his pride and joy, he bought it in 1979 with his redundancy money and had to be ordered from Switzerland. I’ve never heard anyone in me life as good as him on it, he was one of a kind, he won the all Ireland in cork but I don’t know what year, it was the only time he went into competition, he played all over the place including London in top shows and events. So I started playing guitar when I was seven as good as everyone around me by ear as well, my daddy taught me how to read music and was very strict on timing but I had it naturally, so it was never an issue, I don’t read music but I can if I need to, too lazy. I played in an accordion band, Billy Reid from New lodge when I was 8 yrs. old and had to teach the other kids as well, People used to send for me to play for them in my area, I was in so many peoples houses. I played whatever they wanted me to, all they had to do was hum it, I couldn’t have been any more than 6, I hadn’t made my first communion yet at seven, I went on to play in the Eire Nua flute band in the early eighties, I always loved playing the flute, I always played the tin whistle from no age, you wouldn’t see me without an instrument, I continued on playing the piano in Des Wilson’s Springhill Community House when my daddy chopped our piano up, Des always had a special place for me, I fell in love with the Saxophone when I got my hands on one when I was in Des’s other house in Donegal and I played everything on it, fantastic instrument, unfortunately I couldn’t afford to buy one at age 15, I played the fiddle in my early twenties, but I only liked to play slow airs and the Corr’s, I didn’t really like it very much so I stopped playing it, I like to play the Bodhran every chance I get in between other instruments, or beat me guitar to songs and tunes, it has a nice effect. So today I live in Newry twenty odd years now when I got married and moved here, I play in the Railway Bar on a Thursday night and O’Hanlon’s Mullaghban on a Saturday night and The Bodhran Dundalk on a Sunday evening session, I just love playing along with people, I still play my daddy’s accordion, my whistles and flute and guitar, the only time you forget your troubles or the stresses of life is playing music, I’m blessed.