Christy Moore was born in 1945. The eldest of six children, he grew up in Newbridge, Co Kildare. Both his sister Ailish and brother Barry (Luka Bloom) are singers. The music in the house came from their mother Nancy, who passed away in 1992. All of the Moore children learned piano, and went to voice teachers for singing lessons. His father had a grocery shop and was deeply involved in local politics. Early influences included his mother’s singing and Clancy Brothers recordings. On meeting the settled traveller John O’Reilly and the Grehan Sisters in Boyle he became aware of the large body of songs in the tradition held by people all around the country.
After leaving school he went to work as a bank clerk. A transfer to Miltown Malbay in Co Clare in 1964 brought him into regular contact with Willie Clancy and Micho Russell who he would meet in later years on their European travels.
For a brief spell he was involved in a duo with Donal Lunny called the Rakes of Kildare. He had known Donal Lunny through school and in the early 1960s they were in a group in Newbridge called The Liffeysiders.
During a bank strike in 1966 he went to England, as many striking officials did, but didn’t return when the strike was settled three months later. “I had a wild and wonderful time in England, with no bank manager looking over my shoulder,” he said. Doing general labouring work, he frequented the folk clubs and the Irish music pubs where he met Seamus Ennis, Margaret Barry, Luke Kelly Mairtin Byrnes and traditional musicians.
In 1971 he teamed up with Andy Irvine, Liam Og O Floinn and Donal Lunny among others, to record the Prosperous album.
This led to the formation of the group Planxty and the recording of the album of the same name. The first of the big folk and traditional groups of the 1970s, Planxty combined singing with Irish dance music on Liam Og O Floinn’s uilleann pipes, backed up by acoustic guitar and bouzouki chords first developed by Sweeney’s Men in 1966. After recording two more albums he left Planxty and went solo. Planxty was reformed in 1979 and Moore and Lunny rejoined the group for a couple of years.
With Donal Lunny and others he formed Moving Hearts in February 1981, a folk and jazz/rock group which released their first album Moving Hearts that same year. The album was a number one hit in Ireland. Along with the piping of Davy Spillane, the group combined saxaphone, electric bass, keyboards and drums. The band blended contemporary sounds with new ballads tackling political issues such as the North, nuclear power and the Anti-Apartheid campaign. While these songs went down well with a younger, liberal-minded generation, they lacked Luke Kelly’s clear commitment to socialist ideals. They were most closely associated with the successful campaign against the building of a nuclear power plant at Carnsore Point in Co Wexford and their electrifying Hiroshimo, Nagasaki is a memento of the Irish anti-nuclear campaign. The group continued until 1984 with Mick Hanley and Flo McSweeney on vocals.
After their second album Dark End of the Street, Christy Moore left Moving Hearts in 1982 and has been performing solo since. He returned to the folk format and with Donal Lunny in support, produced the album The Time Has Come in 1983 and Ride On in 1984. The latter and The Spirit of Freedom (1985) included strong republican songs at a time when younger people in the South were turning strongly against the Provisional IRA’s war campaign. Included with the witty numbers such as Lisdoonvarna were songs about hunger striker Bobby Sands. He ceased to support the Provos after the bombing atrocity in Enniskillen.
His later albums were made up of more contemporary and pensive songs, utilising writers like Johnny Mulhern, Wally Page Johnny Duhan and Jimmy McCarthy.
In 1991 he became the first solo artist to sell out ten consecutive nights at the huge Point Theatre, Dublin. In 1994 he was the subject of a Late Late Show tribute on Teilifis Eireann and in 1996 he released Graffiti Tongue. It included his own compositions and a song North and South of the River, co-penned with Bono of U2, which reflected the mood of reconciliation leading up to the Northern truce.
In December 1997 Christy Moore cancelled his Irish tour because of illness. In April 1998 he announced that he was retiring from live performances for at least a year. His stage comeback was abandoned in October 1999 due, it is believed, to a heart condition and prospects of his return to live performances looked bleak. However, in summer 2000 he turned up with Donal Lunny as a guest performer at an Andy Irvine gig in Dublin. He continues to perform, accompanied by Cork guitarist Declan Sinnott. He released the album Traveller in late 1999..
He joined his former colleagues in Planxty in Dublin’s Vicar Street for a special reunion concert in February 2004 which was later broadcast on RTE. Also in 2004 he was honoured by the Irish music industry with the inaugural IRMA Award. In April 2009, his album Listen topped the Irish bestseller list for four weeks. In the following year he was named best Irish male (performer) at the prestigious Meteor Awards. Christy is married to Val and they have three children.
A biography, One Voice, was published in 2000. In September 2010 he brought out a limited edition CD of his pre-Planxty LP Paddy on the Road, recorded in London in 1969. ©Ronan Nolan. 2000- 10.
Paddy on the Road, Limited edition CD. 2010
Listen, Christy Moore, Colombia, 2009
Live at the Point 2006, Christy Moore. Double CD and DVD.
Burning Times, Christy Moore, Sony BMG. 2005
The Box Set: 1964 – 2004, Christy Moore.
Traveller, Christy Moore, 1999.
Grafitti Tongue, Christy Moore, 1996.
The Spirit of Freedom, Christy Moore, 1985.
Ride On, Christy Moore, 1984.
The Time Has Come, Christy Moore, 1983.
Prosperous, Christy Moore, 1971.