Colm Farrelly

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Colm (or Columb) Farrelly (1950s–25 October 2008 in Tralee, Ireland[1] [2]) was an Irish music producer and composer who came to prominence during the mid-1980s through his musical partnership with singer Sinéad O'Connor. Farrelly was a native of Dublin.

Early life[edit]

Born in the early 1950s, Colm Farrelly was brought up on a Dublin estate. He took up the guitar in his teens and moved to London after leaving school. There he remained for several years, mostly in the boroughs of Camden and Haringey, which have large Irish populations, playing music informally. His musical tastes were exceptionally wide-ranging, though discriminating, and he read voraciously. Among his friends at this time was American actor Mac McDonald. Among his projects was a band called Paris Underground. In the 80s Colm returned to Dublin.

Ton Ton Macoute[edit]

In the summer of 1984, Farrelly met up with O'Connor through an ad she had placed in Hot Press Magazine. The two of them recruited a few other band members and created around her the seminal act for the band Ton Ton Macoute. The band was received positively, while their sound was inspired by Farrelly's interest in witchcraft, mysticism, and world music.[3] Less than a year later, in February 1985, O'Connor's mother died. This led to her leaving Farrelly and the rest of Ton Ton Macoute. The band gigged on in various lineups until, after her departure they eventually folded. Farrelly went on to take different composer roles, scoring for numerous TV documentaries, dramas, (including RTÉ's soap theme 'Fair City'), and short films. Farrelly would later meet up with Jimmy Corr (later of The Corrs) where he took the role of a band leader in a TV drama The Black Knight with Corr as his keyboard player. The band dissolved in the early 1990s.[citation needed]

Underscore Production Company[edit]

With the encouragement of U2 manager Paul McGuinness[citation needed], Farrelly set up the production company Underscore in 1993, taking over the ailing Ashtown Gate Studios. Within a year of taking over he produced the trio called The Pale, who were the first Irish act to perform live against pre-programmed music tracks. The Pale's first release on Underscore, 'Why Go Bald', attracted overseas interest and launched a battle amongst record companies to sign them. Farrelly would sign them to A&M Records. Farrelly co-wrote with, produced and managed the act who toured in the UK, Europe, Japan, and the US and achieved modest chart success, with tracks like 'Butterfly', and 'Dogs with no tails.' Farrelly was awarded the Smithwicks/Hotpress Producer Of the Year Award for the album 'Here's One We Made Earlier'.

Farrelly had set up Underscore Multimedia in 1995 to supply the audio content for a number of Microsoft products, including the educational CD-ROM "Ancient Lands". Farrelly left the production company and retired to remote County Kerry to compose and record.

Later career[edit]

While there scoring for filmmakers, he began writing a trio of shorts emerging from the period 2000 to 2004: Of Noble Blood, Vicious Circle and What If? (Bootstrap Films). Farrelly went into development under the auspices of The Irish Film Board with his feature screenplay Skinflick.

During that period, Farrelly's musical collaborations with producer-director Brendan Culleton (Akajava Films) produced scores for documentaries including the Irish language An Bothar Fada (The Long Road), The Shamrock and the Swastika and Diarmuid and Strongbow. In 2003, he began making occasional appearances on stage with others under the name The Fortyfoot Gentlemen.


Farelly died on 25 October 2008 following a short illness.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b "'Fair City' theme composer dies". 28 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-28. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  2. ^ a b "Columb Farrelly Dies In Kerry". Hot Press. 27 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  3. ^ "Biography Sinéad O'Connor". 2006-07-24. Retrieved 2007-05-14.

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