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Coronavirus: Stars inspired by serenading Italians to lift fans' spirits with intimate performances

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Gary Lightbody

Gary Lightbody

Gary and Bono on stage together

Gary and Bono on stage together

Bono

Bono

Italian musicians perform on their balcony during lockdown

Italian musicians perform on their balcony during lockdown

Gary Lightbody

Inspired by locked-down, balcony-singing Italians, Ireland's two biggest rock stars - and several local ones ­- have been doing their bit by using music to lighten the mood.

Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody has promised that he will be singing a live gig of requested songs on Thursday night on Instagram.

Using the same medium, U2's Bono has written a new ballad called Let Your Love Be Known, posting it on his Instagram account with the caption: "For the Italians who inspired it..."

Popular Bangor man Lightbody, like Dubliner Bono, is more used to singing to tens of thousands of fans in packed stadiums but this is a more intimate gesture at a time of great need.

He posted on Twitter: "Hi everyone. I'm doing an acoustic gig live on the Snow Patrol Instagram tomorrow (Thursday 19) at 7pm.

"Hopefully see you there. Please post requests here and I'll do the most requested songs on this show and then do more shows to play the rest. Loads of love to you all." Meanwhile, the Bono video, which shows the musician sitting at his piano in his home in the Republic, depicts the U2 frontman announcing: "A little postcard from Dublin.

"On this St Patrick's Day, a little tune made up here about an hour ago."

He goes on to say "I think it's called 'Let Your Love Be Known'", before breaking into song.

Rosie Fagan

Elsewhere, Rosie Fagan (58), who plays with Belfast Ukulele Jam, has told the Belfast Telegraph how she serenaded her quarantined neighbours in south Belfast with her version of The Undertones classic Teenage Kicks.

"It was just a bit of fun," she said. "I was inspired by the Italians to be honest. That made me do it for them.

"They were so happy with it they videoed and put it on Facebook. At least it brought a smile to their faces in these trying times."

Professional musician Rosie, who is medically retired, said she is happy to take requests from others too. "I'll do the same for anyone who wants me to go round to their house to sing," she said. "I'll do it for the love of it. I might even get some of my ukulele friends to come along too but obviously we'll have to stand a couple of metres apart."

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Malachi O’Doherty

Malachi O’Doherty

Malachi O’Doherty

Author Malachi O'Doherty ­- who admits he cannot sing ­- said it is something he will be doing more of after his debut performance on Twitter on St Patrick's Day.

The veteran journalist gave an inspirational rendition of Hail Glorious St Patrick - a hymn he was taught at school - to lift people's spirits. "I wanted to celebrate St Patrick's Day," he said. "Everybody who knows me knows I can't sing. Every time I open my mouth to sing people give me dirty looks. But I often sing to myself when I'm on my own.

"My music teacher at school told me I couldn't sing and he made me stand aside because of what he determined was my 'croak'.

"Given the conditions in which we're now living and the horror we're facing, I thought to myself 'Let's laugh - because if you don't you'll cry."

We might even see more tunes from Malachi, who added: "We're going through frightening and anxiety-making times - a little bit of giddy silliness is the perfect antidote!" Photographer Rick Hewitt (69) from Lurgan revealed how he recently recorded himself playing three songs on Facebook, including the Christy Moore song Nancy Spain, Rathlin Island and one he has written himself.

"We're not venturing out too much because we're worried about the virus," he said.

"I was trying to cheer myself up ... I recently bought a new guitar and I was fed up watching television so I decided to practice some songs. I had a great response to them. It passed the time well and I think I might put up a few more in the future."

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