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Relatively Speaking: Father and son, Aidan and Arun

By Karen Ireland

Published 01/07/2015

In tune: Aidan Murtagh and his son Arun
In tune: Aidan Murtagh and his son Arun

As a member of the reformed Belfast band Protex, hotel manager Aidan Murtagh has been one of the pioneers of the punk movement in the city. Also a keen music fan, his son Arun is a student at Queen's University.

Name: Aidan Murtagh

Age: 54

Occupation: General manager of Holiday Inn Express/guitarist with Protex

Relationship to Arun: Father

I am married to Angela and we have two boys, Arun (20) and Dylan (15). I have worked in the hotel industry since leaving university, with jobs at the Europa and the Stormont Hotel. My interest in the hospitality sector was nurtured by my grandfather who owned bars many years ago - I definitely caught the bug from him. I have worked for the Holiday Inn group on four separate occasions, returning to the company a couple of years ago to manage the Holiday Inn Express in University Street.

I love my job as it interesting and challenging.

When I am not working or with my family, I play in the band Protex, which has recently reformed.

Myself and my bandmates originally formed Protex when I was 17, and we had a three-year record contract with Polydor. We were quite successful, playing in Ireland, England and the US.

In the Seventies we played Cork University and our support act was a then little known band called U2. We even helped them get one of their first gigs in London before they had a record contract. We have also played with the Boomtown Rats.

When we broke up, our album - which was produced by high profile producer Chas Chandler, who worked with Jimmy Hendrix and Slade - went viral in 2010 and was released on vinyl. There was such interest in the album we decided to reform. Our music is a mix of pop and punk.

So far, we have played Japan, Texas, London and Germany, and will play Rome in October.

Arun and I are very close, though I am close to both of my sons and am very proud of them both.

Arun is a very calm and caring person. He has chosen to pursue a career in the medical profession which suits his character as he is hard-working and thoughtful of others.

We are very proud of how far he has come and know he will be very successful. He has a great sense of humour and is great fun to be around. Like a lot of young guys, though, he can be very untidy and doesn't make his bed!

Name: Arun Murtagh

Age: 20

Occupation: Medical student at Queen's University, Belfast

Relationship to Aidan: Son

Currently I'm studying medicine at Queen's University and about to go into third year. I love my course and, while it is a lot of work, I really enjoy it and wouldn't change a thing. This is what I always wanted to do and it's great to have this opportunity. Eventually I would like to become a general practitioner, but I have plenty of time to make up my mind about that.

I am just back from an Interrailing trip around Poland and Germany - it was fantastic.

We are a very close family and enjoy spending time together. While I live in student accommodation during the week, I always try to get home to Four Winds at weekends to see my family. Dad and I have a special bond. We have always been close and have a great father/son relationship. We are both into our music - it is a joint passion. He got me playing the guitar from a young age, and we talk about and listen to all kinds of music when we get the chance. Walking, whether with the dog or not, is also something we like to do together.

Dad is my inspiration and I really look up to him. He is passionate about his music, and I admire the fact he is giving it a go again, despite his age.

While he works hard at the hotel, he also makes the most of his weekends.

Some of my best memories are of family holidays and we all still enjoy weekends away together in Donegal or Connemara. I suspect I get my love of music and abilities from my dad, and enjoy playing the guitar and the violin. Nothing about dad really annoys me - apart from the odd bad joke.

Giving voice to a generation...

  • Formed in Belfast in 1978, Protex were soon signed to the famous Good Vibrations label, with their debut release receiving great reviews and enjoying widespread airplay on the UK's national Radio 1 station
  • They quickly came to the attention of Rough Trade Records, who released Don't Ring Me Up to wide acclaim, which led to the band signing for Polydor Records
  • An album was recorded with legendary producer Chas Chandler. However, the band weren't happy with the result and after a final release, A Place in Your Heart, the band and label parted ways. Protex split up soon after
  • In 2010, New York's Sing Sing Records located the Polydor recordings, releasing Strange Obsessions on vinyl, and reigniting interest in the band.
  • They will play the Hilden Beer Festival, from August 28-30

Belfast Telegraph

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