Billy Bragg…songwriter, activist & national treasure


I’ve been a fan of Billy Bragg all my adult life – which is pretty much all his adult life.  The photo above was taken today & features my rather tatty but much prized Billy Bragg t-shirt bought in 1985 & survivor of so many wardrobe clear-outs.  I almost threw it away when we moved from London to Northern Ireland but I couldn’t bear to.  It reminds me too much of the miner’s strike & the stuff that went on back then.

Yesterday, the Learning Pool crew was breakfasting in the Gibson in Dublin following the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards ceremony on Friday night.  I don’t have to tell you how late we went to bed.  Suffice to say it was a similar time to when I often get up.  At breakfast, Billy Bragg was at the next table.  I couldn’t let the opportunity pass.  I did, however, have the decency to wait until he’d finished his breakfast & read the newspaper before I approached him for a chat.

He was exactly as I imagined he would be & I was delighted to hear he was heading over yesterday afternoon to the Dame St protests in Dublin to show a bit of support & play an impromptu gig on a makeshift stage assembled by the protesters & activists.  Good on yer Billy & good luck with your Irish tour.  Might see you Friday night at the Empire in Belfast.  Details are here if anyone else fancies it too

Billy Bragg stories welcome via the comments as always.


  1. Never been lucky enough to meet him but always been a bit of a fan. Glad you had chance to get to chat to him. Congratulations on your 6th place by the way. Well Done.


  2. Yeah – he’s pretty cool. Felt a bit self conscious going over but I just couldn’t bear to miss talking to him.We’re pretty pleased with the whole Deloitte Fast 50 experience this year so far – being No 1 in Northern Ireland is awesome!Cheers John 🙂


  3. I met him in the street in Brighton once a few years ago during a Labour Party conference I’d been invited to run a workshop at on local web presence. It was a cold drizzly day and he was walking along hunched against the wind wearing a donkey with the collar up against the cold.I couldn’t help it I had to hug him … we had a lovely, albeit cold and shivery chat and both walked on. He is was and e’r shall be one of my heroes. Having been at University in Durham during the miner’s strike his voice and messages have powerful memories.Great story Mary – and love the T shirt : )


  4. That’s how cool he is, he wears donkeys!Top man, seen him loads of times, usually in obscure venues in Wales (Pontadawe Arts Centre to name but one).Great memories of famous new year’s eve shows at the Hackney Empire with a bill including Kirsty McCall and if I remember correctly a certain Phil Jupitus (might have been Rob Alum) performing a version of Sexuality called “Beastiality”. Good times and the quality still shines through.When very drunk I’ve been known to launch into a (word perfect I’ll have you know) rendition of World Turned Upside Down.Mary, all these years and I never knew!


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