Aoife's Parents Ann Mulligan (Reilly) Crott, Moyne and father Peter Mulligan, Bornacoola originally. Grandparents on Ann's side Eddie and Philomena Reilly, R.I.P., Crott, Moyne and on Peter’s side, Gerard 'Gerry' Mulligan (Bornacoola) and Bernadette (Grey), Leitrim Newtownforbes and I have four siblings, all brothers, Ciarán, Dónal, Pádraig and Tomás.
I first seen this young lady at a recent event held in Longford Town, the weekend of the Cruthu Arts event. Aoife performed a few songs at a song and poetry night, and well you know when you go to some events and you see or hear something that totally blows you away, well that's what I experienced with Aoife. She sang three of her own written music and lyrics. What I heard was like something you would hear at a top Indie kinda concert, was like I was listening to radio of some famous singer. The depth of the lyrics surprised me for somebody so young. I had to approach and ask her if she would do a story for me, before she became too big to bother with local Photographer Michael Croghan. Aoife's mannerly way could not have been much nicer and was honoured for the compliments I paid her. She seemed taken aback. I hope to have a link to video below, so you can see for yourself and you can judge.
Studywise started in a creche in Longford Town ran by Joan McKenna, and have very fond memories of it. Actually, it was there I met Tomás Skelly (Moss) and we are still good friends to this day. Then onto Glen National School, on the outskirts of Edgeworthstown. In Glen you could say that's where it all started with singing. I was part of the Schools Scor, an Irish Musical competition. I was part of an Instrumental band and a solo singer. I won the solo singing in Longford County School Scor competition in 5th or 6th class (can’t remember exactly). I was one student in fifty, within the whole school. Went to Ballymahon Vocational school. Very good school, I enjoyed it so much, we did a lot of performance with pantomime and music.
Studied dance also, and did all my RAD grades in ballet with Anica Louw, in Shawbrook. She is from South Africa living in Legan where she set up the very famous dance school, Shawbrook. She pushed all of us out of our comfort zones and taught us to be confident. Shawbrook was a huge part of my younger years, where we completed Internationally recognised examinations, performed on stage and competed in dance competitions. We toured all over Ireland and when I was 15, I was part of the Shawbrook Touring Company that represented Ireland in the Aberdeen International Youth Festival.
I was taught classical piano by Bernadette Walsh, Edgeworthstown, an amazing teacher who always pushes you to achieve your full potential. She encouraged me to sing from a young age also. Pauline Flood has also encouraged and helped me massively over the years. She has been a huge part of my life. She is the organiser of the Joe Callaghan CCE Saturday Music Club in Edgeworthstown and she asked me to teach classes in piano and traditional singing a couple of years ago, something I enjoy so much. I have a singing student qualified to compete in the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil this weekend, and a dance student competing in the All-Ireland Community Games competition.
All of my family are members of Joe Callaghan CCÉ, Edgeworthstown, and my 4 brothers all play music. We have all competed in the Fleadh Cheoil over the years (I won an All-Ireland medal in Traditional Singing a number of years ago). In fact, my brother Ciarán, is competing in U18 Fiddle in the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil this weekend.
Desmond 'Dessie' Rynn has helped and encouraged me the most in recent times helping me record a cover for my FB Music page. We are recording another song at the moment. That first cover on my Facebook page was a huge help to me. Dessie has encouraged and taken singers and musicians under his wing over the years and helped them with their music careers. He is such a kind and generous man.
In terms of college, the first year I did Applied Languages and Translation Studies including French and Spanish, but after a year, I left that. I was afraid to do music. I had this fear it would become a chore, if I studied it. But after a year of doing something I didn't particularly love, I started music the following year in St. Pat’s in Drumcondra. In my second year now. I will never see the first year as a waste, but it taught me a lesson, a real valuable lesson, stick with music, it’s all I ever wanted to do. I had the privilege of being taught by John Buckley my Composition Lecturer. Amazing amazing Lecturer. He was a great help and would go the extra mile to help myself and others. Retired last year. He has composed almost 100 works that have been performed and broadcast in more than 50 countries worldwide. I have been part of DCU Dance Society in College the past 2 years. I actually choreographed ballet pieces two years in a row for the All Ireland Dance Experiment in the Helix in Dublin.
I have been writing music a long time, but only recently played in front of crowds.
I don’t know how he heard of me, but Chef Martin O’Connor asked me to sing at a Wine & Dine event in Ardagh Heritage & Creativity Centre. I sang a few covers and for the first time in public, one of my own songs. After I had sung my own song, people at the Wine & Dine event encouraged me to sing more of my own music. That was a great moment for me, very affirming, gave me great confidence. I’ll never forget. I don't write songs often, just when a notion comes to me or something inspires me. I could write a song in an hour.
Another personal confidence boost was when I was asked to sing at several 1916 events last year, including one in Pearse Park, the opening of the Memorial garden here in Longford Town (opposite County Council offices), a memorial event in Ballinalee, and Longford Library. I even sang for an international delegation meeting at Kiernan Milling in Granard!
Music and dance are a huge part of my life. It would be nice to teach music at primary level but also at secondary level as I think I would get more out of it.
Ever since I was a little girl I always wanted to be a singer, my advice to any and everybody would be to Go with what you love, and everything else will all fall into place. Just keep pushing yourself.
Aoife certainly has super talent and will go far, because of that and her drive and focus, and hard work studying. to describe her music, certainly has depth and background in traditional. but I think of katie melua, hints of jazzy bluesy, more bluesy. Talent nobody can deny. I think we will all be hearing more of this young lady in the future.
I asked her of any experience , and advice to others she said ‘’Go with what you love and all will fall inot place, just keep working hard’’
Longford Town, at the moment, moving to reside in China in a week or two.
Schooled in St Josephs, St Michael's and the Tech 'Templemichael secondary School'.
Parents Eithne 'Heavey' Courtney and father Patrick 'Paddy' Courtney.
Grandparent's On my mothers side was Mary Feehily from Edgeworthstown County Longford. and Grandfather was Patrick Haevey from Ardagh County Longford.
On my Fathers side Rosetta 'McKenna' Courtney Drumlish County Longford. My grandfather was Patrick Courtney from Drumlish.
Lucky number seven in siblings. Five brothers and two sisters. Aaron, Conor,Brian,Ciaran, Gerard, and Collette and Jenifer.
After i had finished my leaving in Templemichael secondary school. I stayed on in Templemichael and did a PLC course their. Was in Business and finance.
Worked in Magna Donnellys for a few months as a temp, before being let go. Tesco's for 6 months, before moving to Carrick- On - Shannon. where i worked in MBNA, for just over seven years, and funny enough, it will be ten years today, when I started there.
Carrick was a nice place to work, would grow on you, but i traveled most weekends back home to Longford Town. Now so much to do in abundance in Carrick , compared to Longford Town now.
A lot of people from Longford, i would say a majority were from Longford that worked their in MBNA.
I got promoted after a year, became kinda mundane after that for a few years, then being let go we got redundancy monies. Some people i remember from thiere were Jo Purkis, John Gibbin's, Thomas Flood and Katie Smyth, all nice people, had great time with them all, and a great time for Jo Purkis, and my sister Collette worked there too.
On the back of being layed off. some of us were recruited to work for LAYA Health Care.
Only a few of us took the opportunity up. there was a move involved all the way to County Cork, in Middleton. couple of people i met and got on with were Sha Plumer and Clare Flynn.
Don't mind telling you the business itself never minded, some of the managers were tough to work for.
But aside from them, the new experience and all was paid for, house i stayed in was all paid for. I did travel back to Longford a lot of weekends, it was a fair auld trip to make.
Went through a work dry patch, that was tough going. Don't mind telling you went off the rails a bit partying. but had a great opportunity just pop up, with a new tech company. Amazing.com.
yes and it was amazing best job i ever had. was a start up company that trained people online distance learning with top course for elite learning. your talking 20 grand for all the combined course's. I am lucky I can do the courses freely.
The company was an american company that opened a Dublin branch myself and a couple few others worked there.
We got to travel to Texas, where the company is based.For training, all paid for flights accommodation everything paid for.
At the start was tough, accommodation in Dublin was tough, i worked from home for awhile, also stayed in Hostels and hotels at different times, before eventually finding suitable accommodation in Ballyfermot.
Total surprise to me, about city life, I thought I would hate it, but I loved it. was a pub next door to it almost , called Ruby's, great crack was always had there, one night coming out of Ruby's, found on the street a artificial leg, I also had spent time Inchicore.
After restructuring, we the Irish part of the company were let go off three of us, and a lot of Americans too. I have heard recently that they have pulled out of Dublin altogether
I had a decision to make, what to do, stay in Dublin go back to Longford, go abroad.
I had money saved, and i applied for TEFL, to teach English abroad.
I had no ties, nothing holding me back. I had a few months to kill, i worked temporary for the company that took over MBNA in Carrick-On-Shannon, called AvantCard. Also did volunteering work. And i joined Slimming World, where i lost over a time, up to 2 and a half three stones.
The course, can be studied from a very basic level to a high advance level. I decided on China. I started my internship with over seventy others, from all over the world. And to tell you how small the world is , My brother Connors's wife's brother, was also one OF the seventy interns there.
I was sent to Chengdu, and he was sent to another Provence, i don't need to tell you how huge China is.
Half hour from Guanghan, a bigger city where I would go, for night life.
The school i was in was Sichaum, aerospace polytechnic, University, my students consisted of two sperate groups, one were covering Logistics 29 students and engineering 20 students.
China itself as everybody knows is a communist country, there is limitations on social media we would be used to here. But they do have there own versions. and i was totally surprised about how advance China really was.
I was of the mind a backward country, people killing animals on the street, and worse, but my thoughts couldn't have been further away from the truth, its a very cosmopolitan country very advanced you would be shocked, i love it.
there is things that are frowned upon with the older generation is lgbt propaganda and demonstrations are totally banned.
On a different level there is the constant staring. They would walk up to you and just take you pic saying Juwairen 'Outsiders'. Just surprised, they don't see many white people, can be a bit jarring at time, but otherwise just an unusual thing to experience.
pollution is a huge problem too, you do notice, it. its like being in a smoky room, you see a lot of people wearing masks. and a habit they all seem to have is spitting, very very common. takes something to get used to.
but it is far from all being negative. the food is amazing. you wont get a curry like you do here, but its a lot healthier and much nicer there. they don't eat cats dogs as you may think. that is only in one village really. and its banned. which is good to see. They do eat , pigs brains, chicken feet, duck necks, scorpions, and believe or not spiders.
The norther part where I visited Juizihaigou Valley, the mountain views, unbelievable, and many lakes and waterfalls the colour of the water, beautiful.
I took a trip to Thailand also with a fellow Paddy, called Dani Ryan from Kilkenny, when Semster had ended, Took a trip to Thailand for two weeks, mainly spent drinking, sleeping, eating the odd bit and doing the touristy bit. was good craic though, gorgeous country, and I will be back for sure,
While in China Couldnt be in China and not visit the Chinese national animal the panda, in Chengdu zoo and a sanctuary seems a very simple kind of animal, just eats bamboo all day, all they do is eat and sleep, but they are beautiful .
Looking forward to going back in couple of weeks. I wont be part of the internship this, i will be working privately and studying mandarin in uni in Chengdu. you get a third of the social welfare here. i study six hours a week on Mandarin, and work twenty hours a week, i hope to finish mandarin and possibly get higher end work teaching.
Funny enough the place i am in is the unofficial gay capital of china which is good. there is bars and clubs, but not out out, and i am seeing someone over there, and i love it.
and would you believe it or not , the first bar i drank in was when you convert the Chinese to English Valentine's bar.
One of my favorite moments in life so far, has restored my faith in Longford, I Was heavily part of the gay marriage rights in Ireland. was great to be involved with. I have many close friends in Longford, apart from my brother Aaaron who i would be closet too, also Denise 'McNamara' Flood, Mary Oates, Lisa Ganley, Marty Murphy, Sean Rozekrans,, and John and Greg.
Like to enjoy myself in spare time, and travel alot. at first, i was so scared of traveling, now completely transformed, i am addicted.was in Germany twice, Holland, Portugal, apart from the places i mentioned earlier. I got drink poison in Germany didn't realise, how strong their beer was, after three days of hard drinking.Plan to travel to Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Tokyo, and different parts of China and America.
When I go back, I start a new school, a kindergarten and some adults too.
I asked Christopher as I asked everyone 'what's is outlook on life, what would he say to you to others'
''Sleep when your dead''
Christophers own photos and memories of first trip to China