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Getting To Know The Mary Wallopers, Part 1 – The Interview

A photograph of The Mary Wallopers.
Photo credit: Andrew McGahon, courtesy of Pomona PR

Staff writer Tahmid Morshed talks to Irish folk outfit The Mary Wallopers about their latest projects.

Dundalk’s greatest Irish folk band just dropped their first album, which is filled with stories and tales galore. From messages of anti-authority to ruminations of daily life, the band performs these folk classics with great zeal, even including a popular cover of Hamish Imlach’s song “Cod Liver Oil and Orange Juice”. It was clear that the band have a lot to say — so I decided to interview them. Here’s what happened.

R: Where did you guys start off? How did that influence your music?

MW: So, it started out just three of us. Me and my brother Charles and our friend Seán all shared a house together. We had no money at all, and we were on the dole. We used to go around pubs in Dundalk (where we come from) and ask them to give us free pints for gigs. Yet it got to a point where it was cheaper for them to actually just give us the gig and then we became a band.

R: So, who is Mary and why are they being walloped exactly?

MW: We were named after a boat; the harbormaster at the dock had a little rowing boat and he wrote on the side, the “Mary Walloper”. “Walloper” actually means “a mad person”. When Seán was a child, his father [would say] “There’s the Mary Walloper!” [as] a joke. It was a tiny row boat and those don’t ever have names on them. But this fella wrote a massive name for Mary Walloper on his boat. We only found out later on that there was actually a sex worker who used to work around the docks called Mary Walloper. She used to drink cider and like starting riots and having craic. So, he named the boat after her. We’re also named after her.

R: What kind of message do you guys want to spread with your music?

MW: The DIY message. So, if you feel like you can do something, or if you feel like you want to do something, [then] you should just do it. And there’s ways to just start to. I suppose we aren’t huge fans of authority. So, a lot of the songs are anti-authority music. Kind of about governments and stuff like that. There’s just so many topics that you cover in it. It’d be anti-church, anti-politics. You know anti-class, party, stuff like that.

R: What are the best folk songs you’ve come across so far?

MW: We spent years collecting songs. We probably know over a hundred [folk] songs each and the other lads even know the instrumental tunes. I suppose the ones we’re playing are the ones we felt represented ourselves well enough, you know? Also, l don’t know if I can tell you the best songs, because they all have different uses and different emotions for different situations. That’s why [the genre is] so great. There’s a song for every occasion.

R: What do you guys get up to outside of touring?

MW: So, we sometimes play PlayStation and we like going to the pub. But a lot of the time, we’re [still] playing music.

R: And where do you think the band’s going next?

MW:  We’re already working on our second album. We’re going to be touring America. We’ll be touring England more. We’ll be touring Europe more. We’re going to be doing loads of gigs and we’re going to be recording music. And we’re also adding a lot of original songs to the next album. So, we’re writing our own songs too.

And that’s it for now. Stay tuned for our review of their latest album in part 2.

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