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June 2019
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2003 Labour Day

written by Matthew Gilsenan for Celtic Tenors Souvenir Program


4.30 am , 9th of November and my wife Celestine is having labour pains. The last watershed has been passed; the taxi is at the door and I'm on my way to the airport for our first German tour, unsure if the pains are of real labour or just remnant pangs from the failed induction on the previous Wednesday. I leave with a heavy heart hoping against hopes that the labour will not proceed for the next week. We would have a day off in Düsseldorf where I could get home for 24 hours.


We arrived in Frankfurt airport and as set off to Hannover in our sleeper bus. I spoke to Cel on the phone and learned that she was in real labour and had been admitted into hospital. The swirl of emotions that filled my head meant that all I could do was wish that I was somewhere else, at home by my wife'™s side helping her through this most wonderful and traumatic of times. Had I made a huge mistake this time? I wanted to be holding my wife'™s hand as our first child was being born but instead I might as well have been in Timbuktu on that bus. We arrived at the first hotel, met our German tour People, received our backstage laminates with Our Pictures and names on them. There was a list of our venues and an excited report from Funke media that the shows were selling well, which boded well for our next tour. It was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement.


The conflict was that I wanted to be there on our first headlining German tour but much more than that, I wanted to be somewhere else: in a maternity hospital in Dublin. I can remember with crystal clarity the feelings coursing through me, excitement over the tour, longing to be at home, unbearable expectancy about our unborn child, will it be a boy or girl? worry about Cel'™s and the baby'™s health and fear of the plethora of unknown possible nightmare scenarios that can happen at this time. I tried to remember all the positives while not letting myself get carried away while still trying to be positive enough not to get depressed. Keep the expectations balanced for God'™s sake!


It was a tiring day for Cel, The phonecalls had been constant to and fro. At about 11 pm I was told that the birth was likely to happen within the next few hours and Cel had to rest. The wait and the countdown was on.


At 2: 30 am the hotel phone rang out. I was semi-asleep when I answered and Cel'™s words that greeted me were "Sean was born three minutes ago, He'™s lying here on my tummy" that was it, the floodgates opened, so much emotion my brain just let it out.


I will never forget the feeling of standing on the stage in Hannover, unfolding the A4 picture of my just born son, Seįn, displaying his digital image to a packed audience and dedicating to him my solo, "The Contender"¯.