A Derry singer songwriter has touched the hearts of expats around the world with his heart wrenching song for those who won't make it home this Christmas.
Martin Sweeney shared the music video for his new song 'Christmas Battle Cry' online earlier this month and it has already racked up well over 20,000 views.
Derry people scattered around the globe have messaged him to say how the song has struck a chord as they face a Christmas without seeing their loved ones back home.
The accompanying music video, which was also created by Martin, shows the deserted streets of Derry twinkling with Christmas lights.
"There were messages from people living all over the world," said Martin, who recorded the track at Paul Casey's studio 'Cable Junction.
"One that stood out to me was from a man that said he had been living away from Derry for 56 years but he still feels like a Derry man.
"I'm buzzing at the reaction, I never predicted it."
Martin was inspired to write the song for his children Jimmy and Emma who now live in Liverpool and might not make it back to Derry this year.
It is one of a long list of tunes he has written over the past 30 years, after strating out in the music business at just 16 as part of four piece punk band 'Ventura Highway'.
The band (Martin Mullan on drums, Paul McGown on bass and Don Clarke on vocals) were together for two years during the heyday of Irish punk and toured the country supporting the likes of The Undertones.
Last year, Martin got the band back together for a one off show at Bennigan's as part of the Foyle Folk Club and they enjoyed their trip down memory lane so much they started to play together again before the coronavirus pandemic struck.
"It must be a midlife crisis," joked Martin, who is also part of two piece vocal harmony band 'Acoustic Vibe' with fellow Derry man Ciaran Duffy.
"We had the best time playing together again but then Covid hit so we haven't been able to meet up.
"I really miss being able to hear a live concert and being able to perform live as well."
A previous music video for his song 'Bog Inn Bop' which featured pictures of 70s punk acts from the city interspersed with images from local riots has had 60,000 views online.
"I love writing songs but one of the ones that will always stand out to me was one I wrote about the Hillsborough Disaster, where 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death.
"I looked at every single person who died and I decided to write a song about two sisters Sarah Louise and Vicky Jane Hicks who had gone to the game that day with their parents.
"Years later Tony Doherty invited me to sing it a talk being held in An Culturlann about Bloody Sunday, the Omagh bombing, the Enniskillen bomb and the Hillsborough Disaster.
"The mother of the two girls was there and she was sitting behind when I sang it.
"I was so nervous performing it for her but afterwards she came up and gave me a big hug and said 'thanks so much for that'
"Sometimes you write a piece of music and years later it comes home to roost."
Martin's Sweeney's album 'Man on a Mission' which features an earlier version of 'Christmas Battle Cry' is available on Spotify.
You can watch the video for 'Christmas Battle Cry' on Martin's Facebook page.
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