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Kate O’Callaghan Kate O’Callaghan
Album: The Girl With The Beret
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 10

Kate O’Callaghan’s The Girl With the Beret is a beautiful recording, a concept album in the best sense. It combines family memories, historic events and movingly personal reflections.

It is impossible not to love this album.

Kate’s great-grandaunt saw history unfold (and played a part in events) as a young woman in Dublin during the Easter 1916 rising.

Katie, otherwise known as Catherine Rooney (née Byrne) left a permanent record in the form of a Bureau of Military History (Ireland) witness statement and Kate has skillfully integrated spoken word extracts on the album with her own compositions.

Starting with the sound of urgent morse code Katie tells of falling in with a company of volunteers just as the ‘scrap was starting’ and kicking in a window to become the first woman to enter the GPO in Dublin on Easter Monday 1916.

Kate’s songs bring to life the extraordinary courage of the young woman as she tended to the wounded, delivering dispatches hidden in her hair and running across streets under fire. She had a narrow escape when a bullet left two holes in her beret. She also describes using her house as a secret HQ and ammo dump during the War of Independence.

The musicianship and the singing are beautiful. As Kate quotes in the sleeve notes ‘small behaviours ripple through time’.

This album is a moving tribute to bravery and deserves as wide an audience as possible.

Andy Nelmes