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Friday 22 September 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# band on an island
This guy is travelling around Irish islands and writing a song a week about each one
The Limerick native is spending the next month touring.

marty ryan 1 Facebook Facebook

IRELAND’S ISLANDS CAN be fascinating places, and one singer-songwriter is hoping they’ll provide him with some unique musical inspiration this summer.

Marty Ryan from Limerick is on a mission to travel around eight islands, playing a gig and then writing a song in two days.

He has been to two islands – Bere and Inis Mór – so far, with another pencilled in for this Sunday. Ryan, who has been in bands since he was 15, is now a solo artist who performs under the name Anna’s Anchor.

Never Meant Records / YouTube

The songs can be heard at the Anna’s Anchor website, and here’s the first track (Can’t see it? Click here).

How it works

‘The Islands’ sees him yet to visit Inishturk, Clare Island, Cape Clear, Inis Óirr, Inishbofin and Valentia Island between now and 25 July.

He spends the weekend on each island, playing a gig usually on the Saturday night, then returns home to write a song in two days, before recording it with Mike Gavin of Choice Music Prize-nominated band Windings.

AA The Islands Tour Poster

The song is then released online on the Thursday, having been recorded in Gavin’s studio, and mixed and mastered.

“I wanted the songs to be as high quality as possible given the time frame,” said Ryan. “I want them to be radio quality and Mike has been beyond helpful.”

When the project is completed, the plan is to compile all the songs together for a special limited edition release on Never Meant Records.

The entire trip is also being filmed forthcoming documentary. 

Loving the challenge

“The whole challenge of it is something that grabs me,” said Ryan, who wanted to do something “different, something challenging and creative as possible” during his summer.

The main thing I wanted to do was [have] the songs be as honest and genuine as possible.

One big draw to the project was getting out of his comfort zone on the islands, embracing “the fact you are very secluded, that you are getting way from everything”.

Living in the city, sometimes you are in your comfort zone – maybe it’s easy to not be as honest as possible.


He hopes that the simpler life on an island will be reflected in his songwriting.

I felt that I’m at a point in my life, I’m 23, I’ve just finished college. I feel like there’s a lot of things looking back so far on my life until this point, that I do have things to say about. Separating myself out on these places would be a great way to do that and put a mark on that point on my life, so I’ll have something to be proud of when I look back.

The songs can explore whatever strikes him – they don’t have to be about the island. But the island life has had more of an impact on his work that he might have imagined.

He called one song – which was influenced by a man he met on a ferry to Inis Mór – St Enda, only to discover that the real St Enda himself lived on Inis Mór.

marty ryan 1 Facebook Facebook

This weekend, Ryan is getting set to play to 50 people on Inishturk. He thrives on the unexpected nature of touring, not knowing who or how many will turn up.

I was saying from the start it would be weird and wonderful – I am sure it will hit both ends of that threshold. I am aware of what I signed myself up to.

The music scene in Limerick means “everything” to him – from the fact that Noel Hogan from the Cranberries turns up at gigs by small bands, to the “real community feel” he senses in the city.

While he’s delighted to be travelling around the country, there really is no place like home for Ryan:

Limerick means absolutely everything to me because it’s where I grew up. In life everyone loves an underdog and everyone wants to root for the underdog. We’re always fighting against that reputation we have which I think is completely unjustified. I think Limerick has just as beautiful sites as Galway has. We have some of the most welcoming people. Every town in Ireland has a bad side to it, no matter where you go.

Read: These haunting photos show the sites of apparitions across Ireland>

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