Paying tribute to Leitrim women ahead of International Women's Day on March 8

Leitrim musician Eleanor Shanley believes in following your dreams

Leitrim Observer Reporter

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Leitrim Observer Reporter

Leitrim musician Eleanor Shanley believes in following your dreams

As a child Eleanor always dreamed of being a professional singer

This week the Leitrim Observer  is acknowledging Leitrim women who have made an impact on life in our county whether that be through volunteer work, promoting the county, through music and inspiring us during Covid. It is a way of thanking and  acknowledging them for all they do to  enhance  life for the better for their county men and women. Here they outline their early life, their influences and why promoting women is so important...

I am a professional singer and recording artist born in Keshcarrigan but now living in Ballinasloe with my partner Brendan.
My career in singing began in 1989 when I joined De Danann. Since then I have toured extensively and made many albums, solo and collaborations, the most recent one being ‘Cancion de Amor’ with classical guitarist John Feeley.
As a child I always dreamed of being a professional singer but never thought it would happen. But as my late mother, Eileen, always said “what’s for you won’t go by you”. And I truly believe if you want something badly enough and you stick with it, it will happen. The thing that gets in the way is self doubt.
Leitrim was a wonderful place to be brought up in. It is steeped in music and art of the highest quality and has an abundance of wonderful theatres and art spaces. To me this is vital for the growth of any community.
My early influences in music came from my mother and her family. They were ‘fireside singers’ and that is where I got most of my songs from.

I was very lucky to have the support of my family


After school I worked in FAS in Dublin. When the opportunity arose to leave that job and become a professional singer I was very lucky to have the support of my family.
My late father, Patrick, and my mother were 100 percent behind me. That made the transition so much easier for me. My family have always been very supportive.
During lockdown in the absence of live gigs most of our work has been online performances. Thanks to the support of people like Sarah Searson in The Dock Arts Centre, Culture Ireland, The Seaside Sessions and UCHL, I have performed online with Mike Hanrahan, Cathy Jordan and John Feeley. It is a good way to keep a connection with the audience but it’s no match for ‘live’ performances.
The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and media were also very supportive of the release of ‘Cancion de Amor’.

I got involved in African focused charities


I have seen many interesting places as a touring musician. Music has taken me to China, Japan, Australia, The US, Canada and Europe. The last trip I made outside of Ireland was with Garadice to perform at a festival in Alzina in Spain in autumn 2019.
I got involved in African focused charities (Self Help Development Africa and Playing for Life) through music. These were life changing trips where I met the most extraordinary people. The women of Africa are it’s life’s blood. They bear much of the responsibility for keeping the home together and keeping food on the table under conditions that we in the western world could never imagine.
When Covid 19 put a stop to all live performances I turned to art which has always been one of my great interests. This is largely due to great training by Sr Veronica in The Marist Convent in Carrick-on-Shannon many years ago.

We women need to support each other in our endeavours


I now have time to focus on it and have used this time to advance my skills. I feel I have grown as an artist. I am currently reading a book called “Danger! Women Artists at Work” by Debra N. Mancoff. It is a fascinating history of women’s struggles to be accepted as artists down through the centuries.
We women need to support each other in our endeavours. We have to be strong and resilient, especially in these changed times. We need to focus on our gifts. If you have a dream, go for it.
But of course this applies to all, women and men.