When Ian Lynch lived in London 16 years ago, he bought a tin whistle, taught himself to play it and hit the streets of Kensington to busk.
Last week, he was sitting in a hotel just a few streets away from where he used to entertain passers-by with traditional Irish tunes. Later that evening he would be playing at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at the Royal Albert Hall.
Ian, along with his brother, Daragh, and his friends Cormac Mac Diarmada and Radie Peat, form the band Lynched. They were nominated for three awards and, although they didn’t win, Ian appreciates that being invited was more than enough.
“The recent response to our music has been overwhelming, we’ve been blown away really,” he said.
“A few months ago I jokingly told my mate I’d see him at the folk awards and, the next thing you know, we got the news about the nominations.
“We don’t play to win awards, of course, but it was nice to be nominated and it was a great craic coming over here.”
He added that, although it made him incredibly nervous, the biggest honour of all was being asked to play at the ceremony. He said: “To get the opportunity to play at the Royal Albert Hall was unbelievable.
“It’s insane really and, despite the stress and anxiety, it was a great experience. We could quit now and be happy.”
Ian puts the band’s recent success down to a combination of a growing demand for folk music and the chemistry between the four band members.
“What really surprised us was how big the British folk scene is up and down the country and, in Dublin, folk is now really strong at a grassroots level,” he explained.
The current incarnation of Lynched have been together for about four years now and, after a period of constantly changing band members, they’ve finally found stability. Their shared identity – all four members were born and bred in Dublin – and similar ideas means they have produced a sound which has propelled them into the limelight.
“There’s been such a noticeable difference since we came together,” Ian said.
“I’m not really sure how to describe it but, it just works.
“It might take us a while to agree on the final arrangement but whatever happens, we always come out with something we’re all happy with.”
Perhaps, as Ian said, it has something to do with them all growing up around music and singing – something a lot of Irish people experience. He recalled family gettogethers, and how they were treated as an opportunity for his grandfather to get his accordion out and play deep into the night.
“We’d sing anything – old music hall songs, some traditional stuff and popular songs from the 30s and 40s,” he said.
“And it would be everywhere, some of my early experiences were of being in the kitchen and then someone would burst into song.”
And while Lynched are very much an Irish band, Ian has a special place in his heart for Britain. The opportunities presented in the UK, alongside the hospitality the band received during their last tour, means they are always willing to come back.
“We had a great time in Britain last November, all the gigs went well and we were treated brilliantly. The public really took to the Irish songs,” Ian explained.
“And what people don’t realise is that there’s a lot of crossover in terms of music between Britain and Ireland.
“Some music, even the traditional stuff, started out in England and, at the same time, Irish songs will have made their way to Scotland and moved south.”
Lynched will soon be back on British shores when they take on the folk festival circuit over the summer.
Currently they plan to play on the Isle of Man, up in the Orkney Islands and at the Sydmonton Festival. They also intend to play a few dates in September before a full two to three week tour in October.
• For more go to lynchedmusic.com