The Big Cheese (Paul O’Brien)


I’ve played all over the place

You might recognise my face

My début I made down

In the Oriel Hall

I won’t forget that night

We really were quite s***e

And it wasn’t ‘we want more’

The crowd did call


But I ignored the jeers

And over the next few years

I played my thing

All over Dublin town

In the Baggot and O’Heirs

The Old Crescent, up the stairs

And in O’Donahue’s

I laid the rhythm down


When the eighties they began

I took my axe and ran

And went away

To broaden my appeal

On the London underground

The Circle line going around

I let them hear the blues

That I did feel


In Paris in the streets

They danced their froggy feet

And my songs they brought tears

To French girls eyes

In Greece I was unstopolis

I sang at the Acropolis

And learned to play bouzouki

On the fly


I thought I’d done it all

But then there came the call

It was Joe, he needed

Something cheap you know

To play as a surprise

Before the ‘Stars in Their Eyes’

To calm the punters down

Before the show


I couldn’t let them down

Back in my own home town

I was sure that I would easy

Knock them dead

Playing all my songs

Even though they are too long

Sure they’d be clinging

To every word I said


So I dressed myself in black

Because I was going back

To the place where all my songs

They had come from

With a shiny guitar

To show them I’d come far

They could see I’d had more hits

Than old Big Tom


I played a bunch of songs

And three people sung along

Tony Kelly

Wiped a tear away

When he was a little boy

He hadn’t got a lot of toys

But he can smell the Lego

To this very day


Then I met the Golden Girls

And I sang about their curls

In the centre where the ladies

Used to meet

I was supposed to start at eight

But they all turned up late

There was an extra long

Coronation Street


Well, first we said some prayers

I said mine and they said theirs

Then Marie brought out Tea

And bread and jam

I adjusted soon, of course

But I was nearly dying of thirst

Until someone kindly

Offered me a can


We all had the craic

They even asked me back

To play again

With my brother Ger

He’d really played his part

After a shaky start

Because he’d gone and sat on

Some old lady’s chair


Then I done the railway gig

I’d really made it big

The party in Croke Park

Was very grand

Thanks to CIE

We could eat and drink for free

But I never got to shake

Big Bertie’s hand


They asked me for more songs

That didn’t take me long

And I recorded the ones

I liked the most

I took a little while

But the songs they made them smile

And very soon

A cheque was in the post


There came another call

A new book about East Wall

Full of art and stories

Black and white

And two English lads did say

‘We like the way you play,

We’ve ideas for some songs

For you to write’


So I got out the pen

Soon was back again

In Foley Street with a fiddler

As a two man band

Though the book it was well read

Some critics they have said

It was full of tales that

None could understand


Then down in my old school

The made me look a fool

When I played for fifth class

They made me cry

They sat so neat and still

Singing ‘Bingo Lill’

Then all roared out

‘They can kiss my a**e goodbye!’


The old day centre’s gone

But I remember curtains drawn

When we watched football films

In black and white

They’ve razed it to the ground

Soon as funds were found

To put some architecture

On the site


But you can never please them all

Even in East Wall

And some are disappointed

By the style

It’s still making quite a name

With international acclaim

And I’ll tell you what I think

In a little while


Some think it’s out of place

Maybe that is the case

But the seating’s nice

And it can hold a crowd

Perhaps in a few years

On this stage for laughs and tears

A new O’Casey will do

The area proud


Now the reason I’m in town

The jewel in my crown

A chance to bring music lovers

To their knees

Though I won’t get any pay

I can proudly say

I’ve played my songs

Down in the Big Cheese!