A week ago, Eagles rocker Timothy B. Schmit was living “life in the fast lane” in Monaco with band mates playing a late night concert on the eve of Prince Albert II’s civil wedding but, this week, the California native decided to “take it easy” in Dungiven.
The musician and songwriter, best known for his work as bass guitar player and singer for Poco and the Eagles, enjoyed almost a week in the North Derry town with his wife Jean, whose mother - Jean McGilligan - is originally from Dungiven.
The low-key, laid back couple have been holidaying in County Derry for several years and stay with Jean’s aunt, Anna O’Kane (nee McGilligan), who is her mother’s sister.
Like every trip, they have been out and about seeing the sights - Derry’s Walls, the Bogside, Dungiven Priory - and sampling Irish culture with Jean’s cousins, Yvonne O’Neill, Derry GAA All Star Brian McGilligan, and Grainne McGlinchey, wife of Limavady Mayor Sean McGlinchey.
“I love coming to Ireland,” said Schmit, in an exclusive interview with the ‘Journal’.
“My wife has so many relatives here; I can’t keep track of them. We are staying with her aunt and they’ve been great. The Irish people are really nice. I love it here. I say to people you should go to Ireland, it’s the best.”
So what is it exactly about this corner of the world that Schmit loves so much?
“Ireland is so beautiful, it’s so laid back and all the sights. I look out my aunt’s window and it’s picture postcard - the sheep and the meadow - and everyone is extremely nice. I’m a big fan - and I got to meet her the other night - of Cara Dillon and she agreed to meet me and we had a nice evening with her and her husband. I love the Irish music.”
As for his own career, Schmit says he never takes any of it for granted.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to keep doing it, especially at my age because I was a teenager with my musical friends in California and we only dreamt about this and it’s actually manifested for me and I am thrilled to still do it,” he said.
“Almost daily I feel really grateful for my lot and my share. It’s not just a career. It’s my entire life and, in general, my life is really good.”
Schmit has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, but is super modest about his fame and success.
“When you come right down to it everyone is human and that’s what you find out when you meet these people. I have worked with people I never even thought I would get in the same room as - The Beach Boys, Steely Dan, Crosby, Stills & Nash - and some of those people are friends of mine now,” he said. “I have a lot to be thankful for. It’s very grounding here (In Ireland) but, like I said, we are all people and we have to sleep and eat and have good and bad times, and everything in between. It’s just I have a really great job that I enjoy.”
The rocker revealed he has Irish citizenship and is considering getting an Irish passport.
“My wife is a product of two Irish people and she is a citizen and a couple of years ago I got my citizenship. I don’t have a passport but I can apply for one. Would I? I don’t know; why not?”
Schmit’s wife, Jean explained her mother married Izekiel Cromie. They moved to Philadelphia in 1948 and, despite earnest pledges to move back, decided to stay. Jean recalls visiting her mum’s home place from an early age.
“I love seeing the farm, the sheep and the cows and being with my family. I have a huge family here,” she said during a Limavady Council reception hosted by Mayor Sean McGlinchey on Wednesday.
“I often bring it up to people because it seems to define who I am in so many ways. This is my ultimate home.”
Jean’s aunt, Anna said she loved having the couple to stay, describing them as “down to earth” .
“They’re not staying long enough! They’re a pleasure to have to stay,” she said.
Mayor McGlinchey said it was an honour to have an “international superstar” in the borough and show him around Limavady and Dungiven.
“Jean and Timothy are very down to earth and have time for everyone. They’re a lovely couple and it’s an honour to have them here,” he said.