Eddi Reader Interview | ‘I feel like I’m coming home’

London Folk And Roots Festival - Eddi Reader

Eddi Reader in full flow.

Ah, It’s so great to hear your voice and to be reminded just a little of Kerry and its people”

These are the first words that the award winning singer/songwriter and 80’s legend Eddi Reader says to me when she answers the phone to me late last Friday afternoon and it’s right then I know that I’ve chosen to right person to talk to this week.

Eddi, who along with her then-band ‘Fairground Attraction’ gained worlwide attention back in 1988 and 1989 for the song ‘Perfect’, a song which she jokingly now refers to as her ‘calling card’, tells me that she is delighted to take my call as it means that that her upcoming show in Siamsa Tíre on February 19 is getting ever closer, a prospect that she admits is all too exciting.

“Oh, I can’t wait to play there again, we’ll be a player short on the night there as one our members is heading away to Japan but I’m sure that we’ll still be able to make a good noise anyway!”she says in her pleasant sounding, almost lyrical, Scottish accent.

The Glasgow born singer has achieved much in her career; she has been awarded an MBE, won two BRIT Awards back in the 80’s and had a UK number one and two with an album and song respectively. For all this success though and all the things she has achieved and the places that she has been to, talking to her on the phone, Eddi only has room in her mind for one topic and that is her beloved Tralee grandmother Margaret Nammock, or as she was more affectionately called her, Madge.

“Well she lived in what I think was Lower Abbey street in Tralee and although she left there way back in the 1920’s, she never stopped telling me about this wonderful place that she called Tralee; I never heard anything but great things about Tralee from my granny Madge. She talked about the town as if it was a Walt Disney magical kingdom,” letting out a loud laugh at the memory.

“She told me about the magic water at the Spa and how she would walk up Rock Street to put some money on the dogs at the track; I just absolutely loved her stories about Tralee, I couldn’t get enough of them, I gobbled them up! She made the town sound like it was some sort of paradise, and so to be able to come back here again and play to my family and relatives here in Siamsa Tíre, it’s a wonderful wonderful feeling.”

Speaking of family, Eddi tells me that there are still a few Nammocks and Roches scattered around Tralee town, some in the Connolly Park area, name dropping Danny and Jimmy Burns specifically as she goes and she says that she will always make the effort to seek them out when she is over here. They remind of her of that special connection she shared with her beloved Madge.

“Granny Madge was 87 when she passed away and I still miss her to this day. I’ve still got all of her records that she kept throughout her life. She wrote to me all throughout my own life when I was growing up; I left home at 18 and she wrote to me, when I lived in London she wrote to me and all through the shenanigans of my youth, she always wrote to me; her advice to me was always so lovely and to this day, I still cherish all of those cards and letters she sent.”

“I had such a strong and special connection to her and Tralee and I think that she, more than any other relative, instilled in me a wonder about the world and that where she came from and grew up was somewhere different and this gave me such wanderlust to see and do so many different things in life,” she continued.

“She gave me some of her Tralee-ness, some of her Kerry-ness and I’m not really sure what it is but certainly when I’m on my way to Kerry and Tralee, I feel like I’m coming home”

Eddi tells me that her upcoming show in Siamsa is her third or fourth time playing the famous venue and she lets out a loud laugh when she remembers her first time playing there, when just her family showed up to watch her play before jokingly praying that people actually turn up to see this time,

“The second time that I played there, there was a few more people there,” she laughed.

“There had been a lot more hype in the papers and a few more people had heard of me so that probably helped! Suddenly there suddenly these two coach loads of people arriving to see me play; it was almost like I was being ‘claimed’ as a Tralee person. A lot of distant Nammocks came to see me play and I even had Elvis there aswell, you know the guy from Tralee who impersonates Elvis; I thought that my Dad would be so proud of me, I had Elvis in the building,” she laughed.

Aside from her upcoming visit, my mind turns to another interest of Eddi’s, poltics. When doing a small bit of research for the interview, my attention was brought to Eddi’s Twitter page, a place where I learn that aside from being a talented singer/writer, she is a staunch activist for everything Scotland with regards to Brexit and Scottish Independence and so I knew that I would admonish myself if I did not at least ask her opinion on the current political situation happening across the pond.

“Brexit, I’ve got no idea about how it’s all going to unfold; all I know is that Scotland, like Ireland all those years ago, we are in a position where it is kind of being ignored.”

“We, the Scottish, have to figure this position out; is this okay? What can we do to change this? Hopefully we can get people around a table with a cup of tea and debate it out like adults with a bit of common sense; you just can’t be sure of what’s going to happen though.”

My talk with Eddi lasted over half an hour and we discussed much more than can be written here, but her final note is one that I feel is a fitting way to end this story:

“When I sing at Siamsa, I feel like I’m singing to that my Granny and that is a very feeling for me. I feel like I’m home”.

The show is set for 8pm at Siamsa Tíre on Sunday, February 19; tickets are €23/ €21 and are available from Siamsa Tíre.

Welcome home, Eddi.