Sketches From An Irish Cafe by Stephen Brady

Here I am sharing the work of a fellow writer, Stephen Brady.

A beautiful chilling story from the prolific locked down writer


The man in the corner looked just like anyone else. He had come in at opening time and sat at the window table. He’d ordered a cappuccino, and drank it straight down. The cup was still there, two hours later, desiccated foam clinging forlornly to the rim.
Beata had been watching the man. She liked to observe the customers. To imagine who they were, their inner lives, their histories and dreams. She’d written poems about them. One day, she hoped, they would be published in a slim and tasteful volume called Sketches from an Irish Cafe.
“Miss!” A poke in her shoulder. “Stop dreamin’. Go and ask Freaky Jean there is he wants somethin else.”
Gerry was the owner. He was a heavyset man who wore Deep Purple T-shirts and was comprehensively in debt. He wasn’t bad as bosses went – Beata had had worse, especially back home – but…

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Damien Dempsey: Vicar Street Concert

Damien Demspey Review
Damien Demspey Review from

Review from


There was a lot of love in the air at the Damien Dempsey concert in Vicar Street. I don’t mean romantic love, or a Christmas dizzying high, but rather Dempsey’s genuine goodwill and empathy for people. He is one of the great heroes of Irish music, gives a voice to the voiceless, a face to the faceless and he doesn’t do sugar coating. He implores us to question what is morally right and most importantly, to party on.


The Audience were Captivated

The man from Donaghmede drew an audience of every age, gender and personality. Reunions of families, gaggles of friends and scores of couples were all mesmerised by him. The crowd listened in awe to his powerful voice, polished lyrics and his passion for justice. We were the pupils of that rare teacher who inspires you to see life in a new light. With that winning combination of insight, empathy and clarity we were all enchanted.



The night opened with the first track of his album Shots. “Sing all your Cares Away” is an anthem celebrating ordinary people who overcome serious life struggles. The message of Dempsey’s music is that although life can be hard, our strength will let us emerge victorious. He shows us how ordinary people overcome extraordinary difficulties. He makes heroes of local people as he has great empathy for them.


Remember Our Roots

Dempsey proceeded to play many of his political and historical songs, such as “Colony” and “Massai”. I overheard a people in the crowd discuss the origin and significance of the Massai, knowledge of which we were taught by the album “To Hell or Barbados”. Damien Dempsey is responsible for most of my education in Irish history. Despite his wrist evidently paining him for the second half of the gig, he still did justice to his heart-felt ballads. It was like a metaphor as he played the guitar and fought through the pain.


Getting Deep

When I heard the song “Serious”, I wriggled my way to the front of the crowd to where the most ardent fans joined me in singing along. This song depicts a man at conflict with himself, on whether or not he should go down the line of drug abuse. Dempsey raises awareness of drug-related problems with peer pressure being just the beginning. His message makes a difference in the world because it is rooted in empathy and fuelled by hope for a good future.


Be Kind to Ourselves

Toward the end of the gig, the six foot balladeer declared to the audience: “Before you go to sleep tonight, look into the mirror… and give it a big kiss!” While I laughed initially, I realised that this was one of the best pieces of advice I had received all year. Dempsey advises that we give ourselves some kindness too, showing once more his compassion and humanity.


The Outro

Before we all said goodbye to this champion of the people, Damo gave us his rendition of a Bob Marley’s classic. He reassured us that “every little thing is gonna be alright”, and we felt the last waves of his positive message. Dempsey provides a message of hope in turbulent times. His positive vibes will keep us going in 2017. Music is our remedy, bringing hope for a bright future. With Damien Dempsey leading the way, Irish music has the best teacher at hand. And one thing is for sure, they don’t teach this in school.