A singer/songwriter from Australia has written a song called ‘Creggan Shops’ despite never having been to Derry.
Miles Leonard is part of the band ‘The Shifters’ who have recorded the song and perform it regularly at their gigs in Melbourne. The song was inspired by the story of Derry supergrass Raymond Gilmour, who died in 2016.
‘Creggan Shops,’ penned by guitarist and vocalist, Miles Leonard, is featured on a record which was released in Australia in 2015. While singer Miles has never visited Derry, he lived in England for two years. He decided to write the song about the shops on Creggan’s Central Drive after reading about the Troubles here.
“The main inspiration for the song comes from a book called ‘On Dead Ground’ by Raymond Gilmour,” explained Miles.
“The book tells the tale of a young lad growing up on the Creggan in a household of split ideals. He ends up in The IRA as supergrass for the Brits. ‘Creggan Shops’ sits on an album full of historical references, especially military history, as I’ve been interested with the subject since I was a child.”
Melbourne musician Miles also revealed that he’d been contacted by musicians here in Derry on the back of the song,
“Prior to releasing ‘Creggan Shops’ we had no connection with Derry at all. Not too long after the release I was contacted by Derry band ‘Strength N.I.A’ about the song. They were very interested how a band from Melbourne was singing about their hometown. They wrote a response song about history in Northern Ireland and Botany bay, New South Wales in the 19th and 20th century juxtaposed with lyrics about The Shifters. I’ve been in contact with Rory, the vocalist, ever since. Hopefully we can meet one day. We would love to come and play in Derry. I would be very keen on some Northern Irish history walks and playing in the old pubs.”
Although Miles hasn’t written any other material about Northern Ireland, he hasn’t ruled it out in the future:
“I think if I was to write more about Northern Ireland I would have to visit,” he said.
He also explained the origins of his band ‘The Shifters.’
“We started in 2015 on my return home to Melbourne after living in the UK for a couple of years. I was staying on couches at a friend’s place and Tristan, who plays bass in the band, lived in one of these houses with a load of other musicians. I had a bunch of songs I had written in London and I would play these songs with whoever was about on the day. Before I knew it ten or more people knew the songs and a solid line-up arose out of this.
“The line-up of the Shifters is: Tristan Davies(Bass), Ryan Coffey (Drums), Louise Russell (Keys), Christopher Gray (Guitar) and my-self (Vocals+Guitar). We play left of centre garage type music heavily influenced by late 70’s early 80’s post-punk-ish groups and a love of The Kinks,” added Miles.
To listen to the Creggan Shops track, visit https://theshiftersofmelbourne.bandcamp.com/track/creggan-shops