Rockstar in retirement: Ex-Civil servant Tommy Keyes

Tommy ‘Keyes’ O’Mahony isn’t your standard ex-civil servant.

He is a determined and ambitious character, boasting characteristics that civil servants are often accused of lacking. ‘Tommy Keyes’ is nothing like that quiet reserved stereotype, and in his retirement years is looking to pick up where he left off over forty years ago.

The Dunboyne man was a member of the Irish rock band ‘Sidewinder’ in the 1970s before deciding to work for the government.

It is clear he still hasn’t given up on his musical dream, saying: “While performing music had to take a back seat for almost 40 years, I never abandoned songwriting and now that I have the time to devote to music, once more I’m determined to give my songs every chance to find an audience.”

After the release of his new album ‘Temptation Once Again’, Tommy is looking to replicate his previous success which included reaching the top of the Irish singer/songwriter charts on iTunes with his track ‘Christmas Eve in Dublin’.

Tommy produced music in his free time while working under political figures including Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe, releasing three albums in 2016 alone. He finds the musical world a big change from what he is used to and is aware of the effort it’ll take to achieve success.

He said: “It’s certainly a very different world from being a ‘Sir Humphrey’ but some of the demands are similar.

“Most importantly, you must be willing to work very hard.  There is a huge amount of good music out there, and you have to be determined and resilient to have any chance of being heard.”

His album ‘An Irish Life’ was subject to complimentary reviews including an 8/10 rating from Hot Press. Writer Jackie Hayden said: “Tommy Keyes’ music is his life and his life is in his music. It’s all there: love, loss, success, failure, pain, loneliness, friends and family.”

The album details the challenges he has faced such as having to emigrate for work, before returning to Ireland to start a family.

“The songs weren’t quite an autobiography but they drew on my own experiences, and those of my friends, particularly when the life cycle repeated itself and I saw my own eldest child disappearing to the far side of the world,” Tommy said.

He has covered the likes of Neil Young and The Beatles on his live sets and has played some of Dublin’s most renowned music venues, including Whelan’s, the Button Factory and the Sugar Club.

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