By Gerry Cody
Tomás Jackman is a Musician known the length and breadth of the country.
He is a highly regarded musician in Ireland, and on October 2nd at The Woodford Dolmen Hotel in Carlow, he was presented with two awards for his contribution to the Irish music Industry.
His first award was for Irish/folk artist of 2023 while the second was for duet of the year with Dan Washburn from Canada.
Tomas recorded his last two singles in Canada – ‘Dreaming my dreams with you’ and Longing for Ireland with Dan Washburn for which they got Duet of the year.
In 1986, William Bennett, former US Secretary of Education said: “The Arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic: Music, dance, painting and theatre are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.”
This is (if you’ll excuse the pun) music to Jackman’s ears.
He is a great believer that everyone has a role to play in life and that the arts are vital to survival.
A son of Margaret and Denis Jackman, Tomás began his life at The Military Married quarters, his father being a member of The Defence forces.
The family later moved to Walkin Street.
Most musicians will be asked at least once in their lifetime where their love of music began.
I would happily put my pounds, shillings and pence on the fact that his parents played a big part.
And knowing both of them as I did, they would have supported any of their children no matter what dream they wished to follow.
Denis Jackman was of course a member of various singing and musical societies and no doubt the apple didn’t fall far from the singing tree.
‘Briseann an dúchas trí shuille an chait’
However, it was while they both worked as volunteers backstage and front of house at The Friary Hall and later at the Watergate that they really shone. Along with other volunteers, I noticed how they helped and encouraged all youngsters appearing in shows. And like so many other volunteers, they contributed greatly to the fundraising and promotion of the Watergate, in the early years .Their contribution to Kilkenny was seen in many other areas, The Boy Scouts and Girl Guides being a case in point.
THE SEED IS SOWN
At six years of age, Tomás was given piano lessons by the late and great Kitty Drohan. This sowed the seed of a love of music for Tomás.
Kitty Drohan had that affect.
Then it was onto Piano accordion with tutor Mick Brophy, and later guitar lessons from Sean Nolan.
Tomás is a great believer in thanking those who handed the baton when he was younger.
He makes the point: “ It is good to remember that no matter what you do , it is important to remember those who helped or lay the foundation stones”
At fourteen years of age Tomás did his first paid gig in the NCOs Mess in the Army Barrack where his father was Mess Sergeant.
And while we are on the topic, it is worth taking a moment to speak of Kitty and her husband Maunsell.
There are many reasons why musical theatre is so strong in Kilkenny. Equally, there are many people to whom our thanks should go to for carrying the musical baton down through the years.
The Drohan’s put body and soul into local musicals.
Blood sweat and tears would probably be closer to the truth.
Kitty and Maunsell Drohan must take a special place for their unselfish promotion and dedication to music in general and the local musical society in particular.
Kitty, along with Donal O Brien founded the society in 1974, and the rest as they say is history.
While Kitty was almost resident director of shows staged at the Friary Hall from 1974, Maunsell took charge of all things technical.
There were times when you would be forgiven for thinking Maunsell had left the room, he was so quiet.
A man with a tam who put the head down and got on with the work. Considering the very basic equipment he had, it was nothing short of miraculous to see what he produced.
I know little of the man, but that he was intelligent and well-read was never in doubt.
A sort of a Google before it was invented. He lit shows to a quality that was brilliant.
When, as often happened, things broke down, Maunsell, with no fuss tied a thing to a yoke and saved the day. A Mac Gyver type.
Suffice to say, that the young Mr Jackman was in good hands.
And so, back to the awards night.
The Irish Radio Country Music Awards Night was held on October 2nd at The Woodford Dolmen Hotel in Carlow,
Gerry Byrne launched Irish Radio in 2011 in response to popular demand. Gerry enthuses: “Talented Irish singers, multi-instrumentalists and songwriters are admired worldwide. I’m passionate about bringing their music to as wide an audience of the Irish diaspora as possible and, indeed, the many who love Irish culture.”
Mr Byrne said that Tomás Jackman epitomized the character and talent in the Irish music scene.
For Tomás, receiving the awards was a great honour. Speaking to The Kilkenny Observer Newspaper, Mr Jackman said that music was his life and his whole life centres around it.
“At the end of the day, it’s my job, but it certainly is nice to be acknowledged for your work”, said Tomás.
Tomás lists his music influences as Luke Kelly, Pecker Dunne and all things Folk and Ballads with a huge love for all Irish Artists.
He has gigged in Kytelers Inn for twenty years and has toured internationally.
Jackman is also known for his countless appearances for charity gigs and he played the proverbial blinder during Covid , performing two concerts per week on zoom.
Tomás hopes to tour to the US and Canada in 2024.
When he is not performing himself Tomás enjoys following his sons band “The Donnys”.
“It is a very special feeling seeing your own son up on stage performing”, said the proud father.
And so the wheel turns. Just as his father supported him, he in turn supports his son.
The seed is sown, the flower will blossom. Ceol clainne curtha ar aghaidh ó ghlúin go gliún
NOTE: On the night of the awards, Joe Byrne, another Kilkennyman and fellow parishioner of Tomás as well as MC on the night presented one of the awards to his neighbour.
Joe Byrne, presents his country and Irish radio show every Friday night on Irish radio.org.
A great day for ‘The Parish’.