- 26 Mar 21
Listen to 'Whatever Happened to Betty?' – featuring Donal Gibbons, Stephen Monaghan (This Nachez), Wil Merrigan (The Saw Doctors), Jamie O'Neill (The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra), Juliana Erkkonen (The Raines; Mikey & The Scallywags), Anto Thistlethwaite (The Waterboys; The Saw Doctors) and Dave Clancy – below.
Some of the country's most accomplished artists and performers have joined forces to share 'Whatever Happened To Betty?' – the debut single from Cousin Tablet. The track explores the horrors of Ireland's Mother and Baby Homes, through the story of one woman.
The Cousin Tablet project was born out of lockdown – when Mayo/Galway musician Donal Gibbons found the time to finish writing a selection of songs he had previously been working on. In order to bring these songs to life, he first called on his long-time collaborators Stephen Monaghan (This Nachez), Wil Merrigan (The Sawdoctors) and Jamie O'Neill (The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra) – who had played together in a variety of acts for over 20 years.
Recorded at a variety of locations between lockdowns, 'Whatever Happened To Betty?' is Cousin Tablet's remarkable first offering – featuring special guest appearances from Finnish-born, Galway-based violin player Juliana Erkkonen (The Raines; Mikey & The Scallywags), Anto Thistlethwaite (The Waterboys; The Saw Doctors) on saxophone, and acclaimed Galway musician Dave Clancy on piano and Hammond.
Drawing influence from both Bruce Springsteen and The Waterboys to craft their own riveting rock sound, 'Whatever Happened To Betty?' was inspired by the life of a woman who worked in Gibbons' family pub and house in the early '70s.
"To this day there is a bedroom in my family home called Betty's Room," Gibbons reflects. "None of my siblings are named Betty so I always wondered who this mysterious woman was who had a room named in her honour in our home. As I got older I started to ask questions, and was told she was a lovely woman who had worked in the family pub and helped my mother around the house and the room that bore her name had been her room for a couple of years. That was that for many years until her name came up at a family function a few years back and a few more hazy details emerged.
"There was talk that she had come from a mother and baby home," he continues. "There was talk that she got pregnant. There was talk that a priest heard of her predicament and she was sent back to a mother and baby home. It was all very hazy and no one really knew for sure. My mother's memory is not what it was and my siblings would have been too young to remember much detail but I became fascinated with her story and always wondered 'Whatever Happened to Betty?"
"This song is my imagining of Betty's story and also a reflection on the horrors of the mother and baby homes that cast a long shadow over our not so distant past."
'Whatever Happened to Betty?' is out on all digital platforms now. Watch Cousin Tablet perform their debut single below: