Musician of the Month: Cara Coyle | Cassandra Voices

Musician of the Month: Cara Coyle


The music I am performing at the moment mostly came from three different sets of songs that I began writing in 2018. The first batch I wrote when I was living in a small cabin my dad built near my family home in Donegal.

At the time, I felt the songs come to me and I just wrote them down. I never experienced songwriting like that before. I did write in my early twenties, but It felt different with these songs.

Since then, another batch of songs came to me in 2020 just after Covid hit. I realised that each set of songs felt that they had their own colours. The early batch felt black with bits of white. So I refer to them as the black and white songs. The songs that arrived in May of 2020 are mostly orange and my most recent songs have mostly been pink. I’ve got lots of pink songs.

Sharing Music

I never meant to share my music with others in the way that I am now. I was quite wary of doing so for a long time. If I shared them it was just for the fun of playing and experimenting with friends.

There are two acts that currently inspire me to write and perform my music to others – Rónán Ó Snodaigh and Shakalak.

At the moment I feel particularly moved by live music and feel very lucky that my favourite acts are Irish. When I go and see Rónán or Shakalak perform I want to go straight home afterwards and make something new to share. They make me feel like strengthening my inner voice and using it more.

Their example shows how transformative live music can be and each time I’ve heard them perform I feel that I have learnt something new about myself or about the world we’re in. They remind me that music can bring us closer together. That we are all going through similar things in different ways, and we can relate to each other through our art. They continuously inspire me to bring what I have inside of me out into the world.

Returning to Dublin

When I came to Dublin in 2018 – having spent two years in Donegal – I began playing my music at open mic nights in the city. This helped me to integrate back into city life. I didn’t realise it would take a while for Dublin to feel like a home again.

Playing in venues helped me connect with others and so began the feeling of community. One of the most valuable rewards of playing music has been witnessing the community that comes with it and watching that community grow. I have got to meet so many beautiful people and feel genuinely supported and encouraged by them.

During Covid – whenever it was possible to do so – I began to play my orange tunes with a talented and intuitive drummer, Jason McNamara. Last year I was granted an Agility Award and with it I wrote more pink tunes.

It was strange for me to sit down and say “ok, I need to write some songs” because prior to this the songs came about very naturally. It worked out though, and I’m currently enjoying hearing these songs grow legs and arms and gain a life of their own on the stage.


Rather than pursuing music as a career, I have always just been interested in music as a way to express myself. It’s an art form for me. I feel I get to see myself grow through making art in ways that I might not find the space for in day-to-day life.

Performing live is what I enjoy most. I did a small bit of work in theatre in the past and loved that a play would be this live, living and breathing thing for a little while.

It existed just for the people who showed up to see it and then it would be gone. I often feel that my music was written as if it were made for the theatre stage.

For years I have played music on the street for fun, and for experience. There, I learned how to project my voice; perform with confidence; receive a compliment; to be rejected; experiment with other artists; and connect with all kinds of people. A lot of my own music would have debuted on the streets of Dublin.

Image: Daniele Idini

On the Liffey

Once Covid ended I started to make changes that meant I was playing my music to others quite frequently. In 2022 I was offered a beautiful gig that runs in the summer called ‘Music under the bridges’ by a company called City Kayaking.

The gig usually starts under Capel Street Bridge where a group of people on kayaks gather to listen to a musician sitting on a little dingy under the bridge. The setting is just beautiful and different every time. Nature dictates the stage. Sometimes bringing sunlight that hits off the water and projects on to the arches. Sometimes you might catch a seal listening in. It’s magic no matter what the weather is like.

The very kind and lovely thing about this company is that they hire artists to play their original music, which meant that I was suddenly playing my music to an audience on a weekly basis.

From playing on the Liffey, things seemed to progress like a rolling stone. Next, I found myself playing at mini festivals and events in the city and beyond.

I started to meet more artists and felt inspired to continue to create and find more ways to spend my time playing music in my days.

At the beginning of this year I was introduced to the opportunity of playing music in nursing homes which I still do now on a regular basis. I was delighted to stumble into this area. It’s really grounding and the exchange with the people there can be very rewarding.

At the moment I am considering some projects for 2024. I have a little studio in the city centre that I work away in. I haven’t recorded a lot of music yet since I’ve been more interested in performing live, but It seems it might be a next step for me.

There’s talk of collaborating with an artist to make a music video for my song ‘Paper Thin Woman’ which would be magic! I’m starting to play with a wonderful bass player now as well as Jason on drums. This is new and exciting territory for me. I look forward to the adventure ahead!

Follow Cara Coyle on Instagram.


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