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Strength NIA Are From Derry, the Shifters Are From Melbourne and Some Suburban Shops Brought Them Together

Miles Jansen chats to Rory Moore about an unassuming group of shops where people used to get 'kneecapped'.

"Creggan Shops" is a song the Shifters and I wrote a while back. It's written from the perspective of a child growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1970s during 'The Troubles'. At the time I didn't think about it actually being listened to anyone in Creggan.

However, with just one click the Internet brings the other side of the world to you and last year I was contacted by a band called Strength NIA, who hail from the Creggan area. They had taken a particular liking to the song and how someone who had never actually visited Creggan had written a song about it. In response they decided to write "1956 Olympics", a song that's full of words about Australia's dark history juxtaposed with their appreciation of The Shifters.


I was pretty blown away by all this, so here's some questions I asked Strength NIA singer Rory.

Noisey: How did you come across The Shifters and do you think you would have heard them had they not written a song about Creggan?
Rory Moore:  A friend Paul PJ Mc Cartney sent me a link to the song and I was immediately struck by the name, as I had also written a song with the word Creggan in it the same year. I thought that one of the members of the  band was from Derry and had emigrated to Australia (as many Irish do) and the song was a lament to the old country. Only people from Derry know Creggan shops, the song title was very specific and the song was well crafted, intelligent and sung with careless abandon. I don't think I would have ever heard of The Shifters had I not heard this song, but I am glad as I like their song writing.

Growing up in and about Creggan, what is your first memory of sectarian violence in the area?
When I was about 6, I was walking up Greenwalk in the Creggan estate with my brother and mother when a number of masked IRA men appeared on the corner with rifles, a British army patrol was coming up the green behind us and I think there may have been a gun battle, except they (IRA) decided not to open fire and soon disappeared out of sight.

Creggan shops. Image:

Does the Battle of the Boyne mean anything to you personally?
I don't wish to offend anyone when I say this, but to me it was two monarchs trying to battle it out for control of one of Europe's leading powers. Catholicism and Protestantism symbolised much more than religious division, it was two systems that had one agenda - power.


Your song "Northern Ireland Yes'" is fantastic. What's the idea behind the video and is it all shot in Derry?
It was shot at an abandoned British army barracks and Niall's garage in Derry. To see a fire in Northern Ireland means either an explosion, destruction or division. The idea for the video was based around taking fire back to its primal roots, the two guys in the video symbolise fire. Fire has the power to burn and clear, cleanse or bright light.

In regard to your song "1956 Olympics", were you taught anything of Australian history in the school curriculum? Is the average Northern Irishman aware of the stolen generation or do you have a particular interest in history?
No definitely not,that stuff is keep hush in state run schools.I don't know what it's like now but we were taught about England's role in World War 1 and The Irish Easter uprising. I have an interest in history and the impact of colonialism. The history of Australia is difficult and fascinating, a lot of Irish men where deported to Australia after the Fenian uprising in the 1800s, it's a land I hope to see someday.

What's it like playing in Derry? Do you play within a community of similar musical tastes as your own? Or are you the odd ones out every show?
Derry has always had a good music scene, it's small but there are some cool places to play. We do our own thing most of the time, I would say that we are doing something a bit different to most bands here yeah.Ireland as a whole is manageable enough to get around, we play a lot of shows all over Ireland which is cool. There is some fantastic music happening here.

Where would you like to tour?
Australia,and I want to get there by boat, I'd love to play some shows with The Shifters and join them on stage for "Creggan Shops"  that's the plan for 2017. Songwriting is like waving a magic wand, curious things happen.In the words of Arthur O'Shaughnessy "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams."