A new charity CD which Robbie Henshaw and his family recorded with traditional music star Sharon Shannon will be launched on The Ray D’Arcy Show on RTE One this Saturday night (December 1).
The album is entitled ‘The Secret Sessions’ and the proceeds from its sale will support the work being carried out by the South Westmeath Hospice.
The local family met up with Sharon Shannon on several occasions earlier this year, playing a session in the Three Jolly Pigeons pub, between Glasson and Tang, and working on tunes at the Henshaws’ home in Athlone during the summer.
The CD was then recorded over the course of a day in Bressie’s Camden Recording Studios in Dublin in mid-September. It features a selection of traditional tunes, one of which is 'The Trip to Athlone'. There are also three songs, 'The Bachelor Song', 'The Isle of Innisfree', and 'Across The Ocean'.
The Henshaw family has been synonymous with music in Athlone for many years and Robbie is an accomplished accordion player as well as an international rugby star.
His sister, Ali, told the Westmeath Independent that the family knew people who were helped by the South Westmeath Hospice, and they were put in touch with Sharon Shannon through a family friend.
“Sharon is an icon of traditional music, and we always loved learning her tunes, so we were delighted when the opportunity came up to work on this project with her.
“We wanted to honour the hard work that is done at the Hospice, and the support that it provides to people and their families. It’s a really deserving cause,” said Ali, who is currently teaching in Walkinstown in Dublin.
Speaking about her involvement with the album, Sharon Shannon said "(Athlone's) Ted Quinn and his family have been friends of mine for many years. Ted played and sang in a band with Billy Henshaw (Robbie's Grandad) for many years.
"Teddy's wife Ann passed away at South Westmeath Hospice a few years back, so he and The Henshaws wanted to make a CD to fundraise for the hospice that cared for Ann during the most vulnerable time of her illness."
Each year, in the lead-up to Christmas, the Henshaws play at what became known as ‘The Secret Session’ in the Three Jolly Pigeons. This gathering provided the name for the CD, which was produced by Sharon Shannon’s manager, John Dunford.
Those featured on it, in addition to Robbie and Sharon, include Robbie’s uncle, Davy, uncle-in-law Jim Byrne, sisters Ali, Emily, and Katie (pictured below), Dad Tony, and Mum, Audrey, who sings a song on the recording. Ali’s friend Niall Preston, and Ted Quinn, also make appearances on it.
The CD will be available on iTunes, and in record stores from this Saturday.
The Henshaws will be talking about the CD and playing some tunes on the Ray D’Arcy Show this Saturday, which starts at 10pm.
It’s expected that Karen Cunningham of the South Westmeath Hospice will also be speaking about its work on the programme.
In addition, it’s hoped there will be a launch of the CD in the Athlone area.