Conal Montgomery Turning Poems Into Songs In Killyleagh

Killyleagh singer-songwriter pens a song about the Central Bar.


Killyleagh singer-songwriter pens a song about the Central Bar.

Singer-songwriter from Killyleagh, Conal Montgomery, is making some new music releases in the near future after literally singing his way through the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I released my ‘Happy Being Free‘ album in September 2020 which went down very well and my son Dean was involved in it. Since then I have been singing away for local people on Facebook on a regular basis and I have been writing new songs about Killyleagh,” said Conal.

Conal Montgomery at The Corner Stone outside the Central Bar in Killyleagh. (Photo by Chris Scott).

“I came up with the idea that if people sent me poems or share their creative ideas I could try and put them to music. I would add to them if needed and arrange the words to fit into my melody.

“Many people I deal with struggle day to day with life and their traumas, so recording their contributions gives them a real sense of worth and achievement, of being valued. I would record these songs and mention them in the credits when registering the song with the Performing Rights Society which regulates music globally and manages copyright.

“I then send the certificate to the person who gave me the poetry and this is proof that they are now officially a song-writer having co-written the song with me. Often this is something they never thought they could achieve on their own.”

Conal Montgomery ready to scale the heights as a singer-songwriter.

Conal’s new song being released on Bandcamp on the 10th September, The Corner Stone, is set in Killyleagh and is about the Central Bar and The Stone at the corner. It will then be available on all major streaming platforms from the 17th September onwards.

“He added: “This song has a special significance to many of the locals who frequented the bar… including myself… where they stood waiting for opening time. This song is dedicated to all those who suffered from problems with drinking. They will never be forgotten. If this song could talk it would tell a few real stories!”

Singers and songwriters: Tommy Sands and Conal Montgomery.

“I really got going at a different level in music two years ago when I was in recovery from alcohol and people were seeing me sober. I started singing more and people PM’d me and it was very encouraging to feel that level of support across the community.

“So now I’m working more at rhyme and poetry and trying to shape it into songs. Sometimes it takes a while for the words and music to come together.

“I’ve done my recording at Gerard Dornan’s studio in Loughinisland. Gerard is top class and he plays in a band with singer and entertainer Hugo Duncan. Gerard and I have been friends since we went to school in Crossgar years ago.

“I was encouraged recently when I met singer Tommy Sands who was filming in Killyleagh. He said to me that ‘music gives a voice to the voiceless.’ And I have a neighbour, Nick Watson, now living in Atlantic Beach in Florida who did the drum work for me, and Damian Hanna, another old friend also helped out on guitars with “The Shores of Killyleagh‘ single.

“It was Fr Liam Vaughn who was parish priest in Killyleagh between 1966-69 that wrote the words for ‘The Shores of Killyleagh‘. Local man John McNamara sent me in a copy of it and I put music to it.

Darren Brown of Soaring Productions with Conal Montgomery shooting a musical video on the Shores of Killyleagh.

“I have a lot of support from friends in Killyleagh and beyond. For example, Darren and Joe Brown of Soaring Productions have helped me make a music video which is very professionally produced. That will be coming out soon.

“I’m hoping these songs get onto radio. It would be great to be included in the Ralph McClean show on a Tuesday evening and other stations where local musicians and songwriters get an airing.

Conal has also been invited by the Killyleagh Remembers the War Group to sing the classic song ‘We’ll Meet Again,’ by Vera Lynn at the dedication to the late Martin ‘Tina’ Charters, the last person from Killyleagh to have served in World War II. Martin served as a bomber rear gunner in the RAF.

Conal added: “Martin (Tina) was in love with my grand-father’s sister Mary Montgomery. Mary died of polio when she was 18 years old before he went to the war and they never married. She was his one and only true love. Martin was almost a relation of mine. It’s strange in life how things turn out. I will sing this song for both of them.”

Conal Montgomery, Damian Hanna and Gerard Dornan.

So Conal is very much involved in the community of Killyleagh where his family is rooted, and many people are now waiting for the release of his single ‘Shores of Killyleagh‘ coming soon.

“I hope to get a CD made of songs about Killyleagh but that will take a wee while longer. It’s something to work towards,” said Conal.

Well, maybe one of these days he will immortalise Killyleagh with a Mountain’s of Mourne or a Rose of Trallee-styled blockbuster that will stand the test of time.

Nick Watson, a former neighbour, now living in Florida provided the drums for the production.

You can check out Conal’s music at: Happy Being Free : The Corner Stone : The Shores of Killyleagh.