Trish Long - Sahara
Hi, I'm Trish Long (Patricia Gogan) born at dawn on Feb 20th just in time for breakfast! With four older brothers I was raised in Rathfarnham in a single parent family after my father left when I was three years old. When I was eight he emigrated from Ireland. A year later my aging grandparents came to live with us. Sadly within months my grandmother whom I loved dearly passed away leaving my blind grandfather in our care. A few years back I discovered that my maternal great great grandfather came from Turkey with his French wife and settled in Dublin -
that was some surprise - might even explain the curls!!
From as early as I can remember I adored music. At four when asked what I wanted for Christmas I said a record -
' My Boy Lollipop' it was a hit at that time - I had to fight for it as they couldn't believe that was what I wanted! I couldn’t be kept away from the record player, after school I'd sit on my own playing everything from ' See you later alligator' to the aria from 'Madam Butterfly' '! My other favourite was Ravel's 'Bolero', I used to sit in ecstasy listening to it. There was a cheap nylon string guitar hanging around the house which I picked up and learnt a few chords. I ended up singing and playing at my school’s folk masses in the local church. In my early teens my summer job was housework and babysitting gave me enough money to buy a different instrument. The decision was the sax after listening so often to Henry Mancini's 'Pink Panther' theme.
At sixteen I purchased an alto sax and taught myself how to play with a 'teach yourself sax' book. I wanted to learn more so I phoned a member of the RTE symphony orchestra called Sydney Egan, and asked if he would teach me. I was delighted when he auditioned me and agreed to give me lessons. Wanting to join a band he suggested the ITGWU band based in Liberty Hall. I spent many enjoyable years with this band and loved being part of the St. Patrick's Day parades each year in Dublin. Some senior members were impressed with my playing so they organised a scholarship for me to study classical sax with Joe Coughlan at the Dublin College of Music where I won prizes for high scores in exams.
I wanted nothing more than to make a living playing music. In eighties Ireland there were only two options for sax players besides gigs, the army band or the police band. The army band had a 'male only' policy. The police band had just started to take in female players but you had to be over 21 years. So I got a job in the bank, and a loan to purchase a better sax. I was dedicated and between my high exam marks and letters of recommendation, I applied for an audition. Then I found out there was a height requirement. You had to be at least 5'.5" and I was barely 5'.4". Rules being rules they wouldn't bend them not even by an inch! So not only was I the wrong sex, I was now the wrong height!! I can laugh now, but at the time I was totally devastated. Little wonder, I turned away from studying classical sax and a new era dawned for me in the many pubs of Dublin where there was plenty of original bands all wanting a sax player -
yes we are talking the eighties and the sax was 'in' along with huge hair styles and shoulder pads!!
I landed some session work in recording studios along with live work and it was during this crazy period working during the day and performing at night that I heard of a singer/songwriter on the scene called Dave Long. I have a vivid memory of the first time, I heard Dave. A friend of mine had performed on one of Dave's recordings. I was sitting in the Yellow House Rathfarnham when I was given the tape to listen to on a walkman and instead of listening to my friend all I could hear was this fantastic singing. I had to know who the singer was and was told his name was Dave Long. Then I had to know who wrote the songs and again it was Dave. I was blown away with his talent!! The funny thing is that unknown to me Dave had also been introduced to me via a demo tape.
A friend from a previous band said he was organising a reunion and that Dave was also going to be there. It was a great session and again I loved Dave's songs but, neither of us were looking to join a new band due to other commitments. In the ensuing eighteen months before meeting Dave again I ended twice in hospital. First I had a major operation due to my appendix not being where it was meant to be and the surgeon having to hunt for it! I was advised not to do my usual cycling to and from work for six months. Six months to the day I couldn't wait to get on my bike again only to be knocked down right outside my house when a car skidded on black ice and came straight for me. In disbelief I was back in hospital this time with head and back injuries. After eight weeks, not fully recovered, I decided to go back to my job in AIB. Unbelievably on that first day back I bumped into Dave in the bank foyer. Being so surprised I literally yelled out his name embarrassing both of us in front of all the customers!! I had no idea he was an electrician, as far as I was concerned he was this brilliant musician and shouldn't be working like this -
even though I thought he looked very cute in his blue overalls.
Trying to get back on my feet a mutual friend wanted to have a session so I asked Dave if he would like to join us. At the last minute, my friend cancelled and I assumed Dave wouldn't be interested but to my surprise he wanted to go ahead. We were suddenly alone together and discovered just how shy we both were. We managed to get through a few songs before Dave suggested going to the pub and with the greatest sense of relief I said yes. I only found out while we were chatting recently that it was when I was out of the room and he saw Led Zeppelin IV in my record collection -
which was a big surprise to him - his reckoning was that if I listened to this band I obviously wouldn’t mind going out for a drink - and so it began!
Gigs arrived on our doorstep which led us to leaving the day jobs and devoting our time to write and improve our performance skills. After an appearance on the RTE 'Davis at Large' we received a call offering us a small role on a RTE TV drama series 'Inside' as a couple of musicians. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were delighted when some of the cast came to our gig that night. Then to my greatest surprise Dave brought me up the road to one of my favourite walking spots, St Enda’s Park where he proposed to me in the gardens with the roses in bloom! The late eighties weren't a good time for independent musicians in Ireland. In 1986 Dave and I got married and made the difficult decision to emigrate from Ireland to Australia. After arriving it wasn't long before we were able to establish 'Sahara' on the local music scene. We've been like nomads on the move from place to place and picking up various jobs over the years and have managed to keep 'Sahara' going which isn't bad for two migrant independent musicians in this day and age!
*My grandfather Patrick O’Byrne had been shot in battle in France in WW1. My grandmother had given him as a gift a silver cigarette case which he cherished and placed in the breast pocket of his uniform. When he was shot, the bullet passed through this cigarette case missing his chest and hitting his shoulder! He was returned home wounded and decorated. He lived with us until he became ill just before I sat my Leaving Certificate and he died on July 1st within days of finishing the exams.