Northern Ireland

Brian Kennedy: 'I'll be glad to see the back of this year'

Brian Kennedy
Image caption Brian Kennedy talks openly about the death of his brother, Bap

Belfast singer-songwriter Brian Kennedy has told the BBC he will be glad to see the back of 2016.

It has been a year of tragedy for the Kennedy family.

In September he was diagnosed with rectal cancer and in November he lost his brother, Bap Kennedy, to pancreatic cancer.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme, Brian spoke about the impact of the events of the year.

"I am doing well, but... I will be glad to see the back of this year," he said.

"It started off so wonderfully well and spun out of control.

"Ultimately I'm optimistic. The treatment for my own cancer has gone well, though I will find out more about what needs to be done next. "

Image caption Brian's brother Bap, pictured here with the late Gerry Anderson, was a regular performer on Radio Ulster


In September, while speaking about his own diagnosis with rectal cancer, the singer revealed that he had met his brother Bap after being "estranged for a very long time".

He said, at the time, that estrangement "becomes like a very bad habit" but that he had seen Bap and given him a hug.

He told Talkback that his death in November hit him hard.

"Losing my brother was such an unexpected thing," he said.

"When people talk about losing siblings, nothing prepares you for it. When it happens you think 'that cant be true' and yet it is.

"The reality changes from day to day - sometimes it's just a great deal of sadness and then the bittersweet - at least now he doesn't have any awful pain anymore."

Brian has sought help to deal with the events of the year.

"I started counselling again. I found the year, in lots of ways, overwhelming and having been in psychotherapy in my 20s, in my 40s and now in my 50s, I'm glad to be able to do that."

What songs did Brian pick for Talkback?

  • Abba - Dancing Queen
  • Brian Kennedy - Sleighbells
  • Kate Bush - The man with the child in his eyes
  • Van Morrison - Days like this
  • Moonlight Kiss - Bap Kennedy


Brian also looked back over his childhood, and what it was like to grow up in west Belfast at the height of the Troubles.

"Your childhood really shapes who you are," he said.

"We would be on the Falls Road, it would be on fire as usual.

"It would be the aftermath of a riot - and these journalists with these accents would arrive and say 'hello, do you want to earn 50p?' and we'd say 'yeah', because of course 50p was a fortune.

"They'd say 'go over there and throw stones at that car' and they'd take photos that would end up as the picture and shot of riot."


He was unhappy with the result of the EU Referendum in June, describing the vote as feeling like there "had been a death".

Despite the events of the year, Brian is hopeful for the future.

"I think I was given a return journey in terms of the cancer and sadly my brother was only a single ticket," he said.

The full interview with Brian Kennedy will be broadcast on Talkback on Tuesday 27 December at 12:00 GMT.

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