Photographer and artist Dorje De Burgh is looking forward to giving the decks a whirl for the first time at this Thursday’s ASKIII event.
The night will celebrate the life of his mum Sherie De Burgh, who passed away earlier this year, and raise funds for the charity she worked for, One Family, which represents and supports one-parent families.
“Mum was a product of a really dysfunctional childhood in 1950s Ireland, who worked really hard on herself and raised me on her own,” Dorje says.
A feminist, Sherie worked to support other women as a counsellor for much of her life. Dorje remembers his mother as a strong person with incredible empathy.
“She was the go-to counsellor for her friends and for all my friends growing up,” he says.
This Thursday’s event at the Clabrassil Street pub is the third edition of ASK, a series of nights of eclectic music in aid of worthy causes.
“The night has a simple music policy, of having absolutely no music policy,” says Donal Fallon of the Come Here to Me! group blog, who is one of the organisers of the event.
“There’s a very strong emphasis on art and archival footage,” says Fallon, who is also a columnist for Dublin Inquirer.
The organisers of the ASK events are a collective of about ten people from Come Here to Me, Sunday Books, the music magazine Foggy Notions and a few other folks.
“A couple of us came together about three months ago, we all have a background in the arts and in events, and we decided I suppose that we wanted to do something for charity,” says Fallon.
The first ASK event benefited the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI). The second was in support of the Gay Switchboard and activist and archivist Tonie Walsh DJ’d.
As well as helping worthy causes, the organisers had identified a gap: the type of music night they wanted to attend just didn’t exist. “We just decided we didn’t like any of the nights in town, there was nothing in any way eclectic or offbeat,” says Fallon.
“Crucially, it’s different, it’s not the same five clubs playing the same 20 songs on Harcourt Street,” he says. “It’s very eclectic, everything from house music to the Bothy bands.”
Sixty or 70 people attended each of the two previous events, says Fallon. That pretty much packed out the small room upstairs in MVP.
As well as the music, they show a mixture of archival footage on screens, says Fallon. “It’s got a pretty mad aesthetic.”
“It’s really a celebration of vinyl records,” says Fallon.“It’s easy to plug in a mobile phone … but it’s still a good vibe when someone puts on a record and you hear that crackling sound.”
De Burgh has the bones of a plan for his first night as a DJ. The music will be “anything from Motown all the way through to minimal wave”, he says.
“Coldplay to obscure electronic stuff. That is the whole idea behind the ASK nights: it’s completely free and easy and open and eclectic.”
Sherie De Burgh
Dorje De Burgh’s mother Sherie worked as a make-up artist early on, including on the film My Left Foot, he says.
But she re-trained as a counsellor and worked for the Irish Family Planning Association, he says. “Dealing with the archaic constitution and trying to help people as best they can within the confines of what they could do.”
Sherie went on to work for One Family, a charity that offers counselling and advocacy to one-parent families, as well as crisis pregnancy counselling.
“We are Ireland’s organisation for people who are parenting on their own, sharing parenting, and separating,” says Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family.
They also support people with unplanned pregnancies, which is where Sherie De Burgh’s work was focused, she says.
One Family run counselling services, parenting programmes, mediation for people who are separating and play therapy for children, as well as running a national helpline.
Sherie died of lung cancer last February, says Dorje. She got the all-clear after her lung was removed, but the cancer came back. “Once it returns you’re kind of fucked,” he says.
She was about to retire and was looking forward to that, having worked hard all her life, he says.
Leagues O’Toole, who is one of the founders of the ASK series of events, is a good friend of De Burgh, and wanted to organise an event in memory of Sherie.