Singer Matt Gilsenan.

The M&M Lockdown Show marks a year of videos

This week sees a milestone in the achievements of two Trim men, both in the “vulnerable” category, Matt Gilsenan and Michael Farry. They have been producing a weekly video of poetry and songs for local nursing home and for wider viewing and this week sees their 52nd video; a whole year of such work.

Before Covid, Matt and Michael were regular weekly visitors to CareChoice Home in Trim, doing an hour of poetry and song with a group of residents. With the arrival of the pandemic they were unable to visit so Michael, who has some IT skills from his time as IT Advisor in Navan Education Centre, began to make videos of himself reading poetry and sending them to the home. Matt then began to record well-known songs with the aid of backing tracks and Michael edited these with his poems into a weekly video of about 20 minutes. These are put on a YouTube channel and were used regularly in CareChoice and other Homes. Links are also put on Facebook and there are regular viewers all over the country and abroad.

The YouTube channel is 'Matt & Michael Lockdown'.

Michael is a Sligo native who has lived in Trim for 50 years, teaching in a number of primary schools in county Meath. He is also a historian and has published a number of books on the history of Sligo in the 1912-1923 period. He also writes poetry and has had three collections published. He is a founder member of Boyne Writers Group and was involved in last week’s virtual Trim Poetry Festival.

Matt is a Trim native retired businessman, having co-founded Trim Motor Factors. He has been singing all his life. As a child he played second violin in the orchestra of the original Trim Musical Society. In 1963 he was a co-founder of the successful Trim Pantomime Society, and played a leading part in all of their performances. During the 1970s/ 80s he was the featured Irish Tenor in a series of Irish concerts with the Scottsdale Symphony Orchestra in Arizona, USA.

“We never thought this would last so long,” says Michael. “We enjoy planning what to do each week and are delighted to help out in whatever small way we can.” He reads a couple of well-known poems, 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree', 'The Daffodils', 'The Fairies' each week as well as one of his own. “It’s a challenge finding suitable poems each week. We can’t really repeat material”. “I enjoy finding old songs which I hadn’t sung for ages,” Matt said. “And we’re not afraid of making mistakes or making fools of ourselves. It’s all in a good cause.”

Over the year they have incorporated pieces from old videos of Trim Musical Society shows, of Navan concerts, of a Scurlogstown performance at Temple Bar festival. For their St Patrick’s Day video they used film of previous Trim Patrick’s Day parades and of the Daft Raft race to celebrate the day virtually.

They’ve also welcomed guest performers including Francis Duffy, cornet player from Navan Silver Band, Edel Cregan of Trim Church Choir, Kevin Byrne, former member of Trim Musical Society, and Paddy Smith author of 'Cocooner;A Lockdown Diary'.

The pair also use tracks from CDs by Matt, recordings from Scottsdale, recordings of Matt with his late singing partner, Michael Meegan from Navan, Trim church choir and Boardsmill Gospel Choir, Dolly Kelly from Rathmolyon, and Frank Foley. Matt’s son, David has an Irish music group in Switzerland called Scéalta, and tracks of theirs have also been incorporated. Michael takes photos and videos on his daily walks around Trim and turns these into videos to accompany the vocal tracks.

Michael says: “When we started, we were fairly new to video editing but we’ve learned quite a bit over the year. But we’re still far from expert.”

The pair have also created two videos of 'Matt Singalongs', each consisting of Matt singing 10 popular songs with the words incorporated to facilitate singing along. These are also on the channel.

“We’ve been delighted with the positive feed-back,” Matt says. “It’s great that so many people seem to enjoy our efforts. We’ve had messages from many people who’ve enjoyed our work, for example: - Another fine feast of music words and songs – Not too much to look forward to in the immediate future, but Matt and Michael certainly brighten our Mondays! – Love all the beautiful songs for bringing back memories.”

Each episode is uploaded on Monday and previous episodes remain on the channel so that there is now a large archive available for anyone who would like to catch up.

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