Singing sea shanties on Northern Ireland's Causeway coast to combat isolation and poor mental health

A group of sea shanty singers are helping to combat poor mental health and isolation among men.

And while members joke that while it came about, in part, with their wives and girlfriends urging them to get out of the house, they have found solace in hitting the right notes on the Causeway coast.

The Causeway Shantymen group was formed in March with the aim of combating issues of loneliness and isolation.

One quiet evening alone in the house, Captain of the crew Barry Torrens came up with the concept “to get out and to find some sort of commonality, to help men with their mental health”.

After floating the idea on social media, he was surprised to be inundated with requests.

Barry told UTV: “Amusingly, it was an influx of messages from wives and girlfriends saying take my man please."

Salty seadog Brian Shaw said: “My wife saw something on Facebook. She probably wanted to get rid of me, at least for one night of the week.”

Since joining he said that he has found “a lot of joy, a lot of laughter and a lot of enthusiasm.”

The group is 24 members strong and growing. They meet every Wednesday at a variety of coastal locations to have a laugh and sing – in that order.

Barry stressed that musical talent is not a prerequisite.

“The sailors of the 18 th and 19 th century when they were doing the trade routes were not all good singers. Shanties are a working song to boost morale”, he said.

The Shantymen come from all walks of life and the group spans generations. The youngest member just 18 and the oldest 85.

Barry added: “We do not turn anyone away. I have one rule in three parts. No politics, no religion and no negativity. To date everyone has adhered to that.”

Group member Chris Millar added, “It is a ready-made tribe. We became fast friends.”

He added: “I have always thought that the North Coast has got such a good, rich maritime heritage having a shanty group is something that fits really nicely.”

Sea shanties have had a recent renaissance with several groups across the UK going viral and even securing record deals.

The Causeway Shantymen have been performing at events and festivals across Northern Ireland, gracing the stage at the Riverside Theatre and the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival.

Further appearances are scheduled this summer at the Greencastle Regatta and the Red Sails Festival in Portstewart.

A local poet has even been enlisted to write the group their own shanty to add to the setlist.

You can follow The Causeway Shantymen on Facebook @TheCausewayShantymen.

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