He set aside music to study mathematics at Sheffield which led to a year teaching in West London. Here he met and played briefly with Gus Isadore (Kiss from the Rose) before returning to Ireland – to study medicine in Belfast. “I felt that I could do something more useful for society than teach maths and was lucky enough to get a second bit at the academic cherry ... Apart from the occasional party I didn’t play much in those years but sporadically I felt the impulse to write”. While practising as a doctor Finbar found himself writing again - “Usually social issues that would bug me - with the occasional slant of humour and satire”.
Though not known in Ireland at this stage Finbar (along with fellow singer/songwriter Conn O’ Neill) were whisked away to Australia as one of the main acts to perform at the Griffith International Music & Film Festival as “The Medicine Men”. “I couldn’t believe it” says Finbar “One of the committee somehow heard some of our songs, liked them, contacted us and next thing we had a major gig in Australia”. Finbar returned to work while Conn settled in Tasmania a few years later.
One night at a Belfast party, music promoter Nigel Martin heard Finbar sing “My Belfast Love” – to which Nigel retorted - “It’s time you did something with those songs!” Nigel put Finbar in contact with Peter O’Hanlon in 2006 and Strawberry Winters was recorded. This album got wide critical acclaim...
“A razor sharp Ulster wit... Songs with depth and vision...” – Irish Music magazine
“One of my favourite Northern writers...” – Mickey MacConnell
“Bullet proof writing...” – Devon Sproule.
Just when things were looking up life took a few twists and Finbar settled in his hometown Newry. “It was a rough passage” tells Finbar “all I could do was walk the hills and write. I was like a fish out of water. My hometown had changed a lot but I made some new friends in the music world. Gradually I felt at ease around South Armagh and Down – yep I’ve got to face it – I’m a culchie at heart”. Since 2007 Finbar has taken a few awards.
“They mightn’t be grammies (yet) but I’m sure proud of them – they mean a lot to me”.
Open Stage winner – Girvan 2009 (with fiddler Briege Quinn)
Recitation winner- Girvan 2009 (The Volkswagen Camper) ...”Outrageously funny but real ...”
Joe O’Toole Song Competition – Ballymacnab Armagh 2010
Girvan Folk Festival Song Competition Winner 2011 with the song "The Wee Punk of the Town"
He has performed at Sligo Live, Celtic Connections (Glasgow), JB Keanes and Montrose
Says Lynne Anderson (Montrose committee) – “His songs (and verse) are a superb mix of humour, social comment and wonderful ballads... Magee Magic”.
Finbar is planning to record his second album in the summer of 2011.