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Friday People: Shaun Davey

We ask personalities about the special relationships in their lives

THE 65-year-old composer grew up in Craigavad and now lives in Dublin with wife Rita Connolly and children Ailsha (19) and Peadar (15). The Relief Of Derry, written by Shaun, will be the closing concert of the UK City Of Culture year.



Rita and I met in 1977 when she was a backing singer in a recording session for Stewart Parker's play Catchpenny Twist. We've been together now for 27 years and often work together. Rita is my favourite singer and when I'm composing songs her's is the voice I hear in my head.


Ailsha is learning theatrical make-up at the moment and she seems to be very gifted and content so maybe that's what she'll do as a career.

Both of them are musical, Peadar is learning the oboe. I was married before and have two beautiful but older daughters, Ali and Catherine. Catherine is quite a famous songwriter and Ali works for Historic Scotland in Edinburgh. Rita also has a daughter, Carla, who is a brilliant singer.

When Ailsha and Peadar were born I was present for the births, which was very special.

When the older girls were born it wasn't the fashion for the dad to be present but with the younger two I really wanted to be there.

It's an experience I would recommend.


My best friend at Rockport School was Tim McNeil and we went our separate ways afterwards. I still haven't got over the fact that he died a couple of years ago before I could meet up with him again.

At Trinity College Dublin I was best friends and wrote songs with James Morris. He went on to become the boss of Windmill Lane, a studio in Dublin where U2 recorded. He founded TV3 and we're still in touch. Another good friend is Brian Masterson, who was the best man at my wedding and who has recorded just about everyone's album in Ireland.

My final best friend is Noel Eccles from Belfast, a very famous percussionist.


My parents met in South Africa during WWII.

My father was an officer on a destroyer and my mother was the daughter of an admiral who was living there with her parents. My father came from Northern Ireland, but my mother was English. They have both passed away.

After the war they came back to Northern Ireland and my father returned to his job as a lowly bank clerk after having been captain of his own ship. It was just three of us but I was very close to my paternal grandmother, Ruby Davey who lived in Cultra. I was her first grandchild.

I loved her house in Cultra because it was next to a boat yard. All of my older relatives were keen sailors so there was a family interest in sailing, which I inherited.


Rita gives advice in all shapes and forms, colours and hues at any time of the day or night and, of course, I am very grateful. I cross Rita at my peril.


There was a tutor at the Courtauld Institute in London called John Sherman and he taught me that the heart is more important than intellect and I've carried that with me all my life. The other thing that I've learned is that failure is no disgrace and that it's often necessary to fail before finally succeeding.

I would also include Liam O'Flynn, the musician. He and I have collaborated many times over the years. He performs what I write and makes music out of it.

My secret crush is ... Kirsty Young

There have been many, people like Sophia Loren, Marianne Faithful, Jacqueline Bisset and Emmylou Harris. These days it's hard not to be aware of the very lustrous and alluring Kirsty Young of BBC's Desert Island Discs.


It's a tricky one but I would like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Verdi, but what an idiot I would be in their company.

I would just like to see the four of them together – they would be amazing to look at let alone talk with. To see the physical presence of these giants of world culture would be fantastic.


The Relief Of Derry will be performed on Friday, December 20 at The Venue, Londonderry. For tickets and information go to

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