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Peter is a musician and writer based in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.





Peter McMahon

We’re sitting in a cafe, having managed to grab a seat near the front window. Above our heads is a canopy made up of many pink, paper flowers that belong to a fake cherry blossom tree. It must have been put up for an easter window display, as evidenced by the surrounding wide array of cute felt baby animals and fairy lights. After a week or two of unaligned schedules, unexpected calls into our respective minimum wage jobs and surprise March snowstorms, Keilan and I are finally getting to catch up again.


He sits sipping on the other side of the small circular wooden table, cross-legged and wearing his usual garb made up of a colourful (yet muted) woolen jumper, his iconic thick coat, and the prized leather satchel that accompanies him almost everywhere he ventures. I can never really know the full extent of what’s in that bag every time I see it, but the one item that I can always count on being in there is a new notebook, full of poems in all stages of creation. He goes through notebooks more often than haircuts, and I can confirm that Keilan really hates having long hair.


We are meeting in the coffee shop to discuss the state of an album we’ve written together over the last few months, a project entitled ‘Always Islands’ that we’d dreamed of doing since we first met. The project's name is in reference to a boat we spotted once called the Erne Islander which was used to transport livestock across the many tiny islands that populate Lough Erne. The songs have been created from an eclectic mix of sources drawing from our recent experiences being back home while trying to avoid being too nostalgic for those pre-university years. As the project nears completion, it has been fascinating watching our different songwriting styles both merge and fight with each other.


I remember very little about the specifics of what we actually talked about when we first met many years ago, but I know it was likely the same mix of puns, art, internet subculture and the Beatles that we talk about today. The one key memory I still hold onto though, is being in absolute awe of his skill on the electric guitar as he performed something Hendrix-inspired for our mock GCSE music performances, nearly a decade ago at this point. Now he remains one of my oldest and closest friends.


We talk for a while, as we always do, discussing thoughts on our work, recent films we’ve seen and our thoughts on relationships (both our own and other people’s). Eventually though, his face changes to that strained expression one puts on to deliver ship-rocking news. A few months ago, he tells me, he went down to Dublin to interview for an opportunity that would fly him over to Japan for a year, to teach English to Japanese students. According to him, it was one of the worst interviews of his life, however, the interviewers mustn’t have seen it that way, as he’d just gotten word the day before that he’d been accepted for it. After he finished his tale, we both just turned to the fake cherry blossom tree behind us and laughed at the cosmic comedy of it all.


It’s been strange the past year, post-university, trying to scope out how to live the rest of my life while trying and understand what I truly value and care about. Working through that with Keilan has created work that we are collectively incredibly proud of, so hopefully we can collect it all together in the remaining few months we’ll have before he hops on a 14-hour flight away from Enniskillen. Perhaps we’ll get to catch up under a real cherry blossom in a years time, who knows.

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