CARDINAL HUME and the black sheep of Ireland, folksinger Christy Moore were competing for the eyes and ears of the population of Hayes, Middlesex last week.
Cardinal Hume was saying Mass at the local Catholic club and certainly got the better of the contest. "I can't ever remember an Irish concert here which wasn't a sell-out", complained the manager of the half-empty Beck theatre.
Along with a couple of nuns and several hundred others, I must confess that I went to see Christy Moore. Aware of the local competition, he dedicated the first song to Cardinal Hume "in case he should drop in".
The Irish singer then proceeded to charm his audience of enthusiastic exiles with a stream of wit and warmth, which was as sweet as the first pint of Guinness on the boat From Holyhead.
Built like a thinly thatched sledgehammer, Christy Moore is not a wailing ballad singer, droning on about a past which never existed. His songs often sharply focused on the here and now, with plenty or variety in the subject matter.
He lampooned Ireland's prodigal son, Ronald Reagan and poked fun at the greatest miracle he had ever seen; the building of the international airport at the shrine to Our Lady at Knock, in the west of Ireland.
Nor were the Irish in England forgotten as he comically pointed out the tragic discrimination against them in the job market. "We want to go to heaven but we're always digging holes", he declared mischievously.
On a more serious theme the
"troubles" in Northern Ireland didn't go without a Republican comment. Christy Moore's first hit, the mellow Cliffs of Dooneen brought the show to an end on a more peaceful reflective note, but the audience yelled for "Moore".
He has been in the music business for twenty years now and has capped his success with the group, Planxty with greater fame as a solo artist. Now in his forties, it seems that Christy Moore still gets a kick out of applause. "If I get an encore, when 1 get home 1 feel like a king", he sang before he left the stage for the final time.
Christy Moore's three week British tour comes to a close tomorrow when he plays at Luton town hall. It should be well worth the effort to hear this thought-provoking satirist.