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A gift from my Grandad.

The project takes a personal look into my own family heritage and looks at the life of my Grandad 'John Doonan'.

For most of his life, my Grandad worked as a welder in the Tyneside Shipyards, a trade he took tremendous pride in.

By night, he was a well know Piccolo player performing traditional Irish music in a variety of venues from church halls to big stages all over the world.


The project so far, has taken me to three of the major shipbuilding cities Belfast, Glasgow and Newcastle where I have been able to discover more about the hustle and bustle of life in the shipyards.

Many people knew my Grandad and I have been able to meet with people from the past who have been good enough to share their personal stories as well as memories of my Grandad. Its wonderful to pass these new stories on to the rest of the family.


My Grandad passed away 20 years ago, there are so many things I wish Id have asked him and stories I wish I'd have recorded, however the biggest sadness is that I wasn't able to share a tune with him whilst he was alive. I didn't begin to play the Irish Uilleann pipes until later in life and Im often told how much it would have pleased him.


I feel so incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to illustrate my Grandads life. Drawing scenes from his home, work and musical life has created a whole new connection with him and re awakened a rich legacy of tunes and songs, many of which were passed down from his own Grandfather.

Its a truly elating experience to sit with your own family and play the same tunes your ancestors once played, there is no greater gift my Grandad could have left us.








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