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IN THE BLOOD Fin Furey reveals tragic death of friend in his teenage years led him to write first song

'Music put food on our table and the clothes on our back'

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Fin Furey with his dog, Oso.

Fin Furey with his dog, Oso.

Fin Furey with his dog, Oso.

It would be easy to dismiss Fin Furey as just the son of Irish singer Finbar Furey, attempting to follow in his famous father's footsteps. That is, until you hear him sing.

His plaintive voice and beautiful heart-felt lyrics mark him out as a talented singer-songwriter in his own right, and one who is fast making a name for himself.

Ironically, Fin (29) never intended to make a career from music. "I was the sporty one in the family. The one who wasn't driven towards it," he laughs.

The youngest of five, he acknowledges his family musical legacy, however, and says both his father and his eldest brother Martin, of The High Kings fame, were big influences growing up.

"Music put food on our table and clothes on our backs. It was such a normal thing for all of us," he says. His grandparents were buskers and his great-grandfather, in fact, mended and made musical instruments. "He was one of the first people in Ireland to tune a bodhran," he adds proudly.

It took the tragic death of a close friend when Fin was 18 years old to jump-start his songwriting.

"He'd gone missing for a few days," recalls Fin. "Two of my friends and I went looking for him. We found him eventually in an old shack on some waste ground. He'd hanged himself. It was dark and I had to use the light on my phone to see him."

Battling with the shock and the sadness of such a trauma, Fin retreated into himself in the coming months. "I'm an extrovert by nature, but I became introverted," he says. "People were trying to talk to me about it, but I didn't want to. I didn't know how to feel at the time. It was very strange."

It was picking up the guitar one day that brought his emotions to the fore. "I was just strumming a few chords and began to hum," he explains. "Suddenly I felt a strange welling feeling inside me. I burst into tears, and then I started laughing."

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Fin playing his guitar.

Fin playing his guitar.

Fin playing his guitar.

 

This was the start of his healing and led to him writing his first ever song - called Red Eyes - about his friend who had died.

From that moment on, Fin started to appreciate what he had. "I realised how lucky I was. I was surrounded by great people and I had so much going for me. It was a beautiful moment," he says. "I decided then that I wanted to help others."

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Combining his love of sport with the wish to help others led him to study personal training and allowed him to train those with sports injuries.

Afterwards he worked as a personal trainer in UCD, where he met his Canadian girlfriend, Jess Dollinger, in 2015. The couple were only together three months when they made the decision to move to Canada.

There, they bought a camper van and travelled for 10 weeks across Canada to the west coast. "It was an amazing experience," tells Fin. Clearly proud of his Traveller roots, he adds it was a "nod to his Pavee forbearers".

Loving the fact that nobody knew who he was in Canada, and the freedom that came with it, Fin did a few open-mic sessions and started to busk on the streets of Victoria in British Columbia, where he and Jess settled. Later they moved to Toronto.

He would work as a personal trainer by day and play music at night. "I had a great circle of musical friends over there and it gave me the space to grow and develop my music."

Returning to Ireland in August 2019, after four-and-a-half years, he has continued to make music. With the gyms closed during the Covid pandemic lockdown, he's had time to write more songs. He references hip-hop, drum and base, cinematic orchestral music, trad and soul as varied musical influences.

He's now brought together his own band of musicians and he's proud of the music they're producing. "You can get really good musicians, but these guys play beautiful melodies," he says. "They make their instruments sing."

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Fin’s parents Finbar and Sheila Furey.

Fin’s parents Finbar and Sheila Furey.

Fin’s parents Finbar and Sheila Furey.

 

They're currently working on an EP, with the first track - Dreamland - a beautiful melodic ballad, out in December. "Dreamland is about two people who were separated in life," explains Fin. "Only when dreaming when asleep can they meet again - and they do."

He's now engaged to Jess, who owns a zero-waste grocery shop in Dundrum called The Good Neighbour. The couple have just bought a house together and are planning a wedding next year in Doolin.

"Jess is one of those people you encounter rarely in a lifetime," says Fin. "She radiates positivity and brings out the best in everyone, including me. I love her for that."

Clearly living his best life, he returns to the subject of his friend who died. "I will never understand what was going through my friend's head at the time he took his own life," he says.

"But the thought that resonated with me afterwards, and is still a big driver in everything that I do, is that we've only got one life - and we have to live it to the full."

  • Fin Furey supports Sharon Shannon, Mary Coughlan and Francis Black at the Gleneagle INEC Arena on September 3. Visit inec.ie

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