Dave McCune


Press Release via AS Written, June 2022


MENTOR HAZIRI and DAVE McCUNE on stage in Albania

While most of us watch helplessly as the brave people of Ukraine battle Russian aggression, six musicians have decided to remain helpless no more. And, as a result, they collected a special award at the Albanian Video Music Awards in Montenegro on May 27th. 

          These musicians have reacted to this still unfolding tragedy by pouring their hearts into their craft and creating a stunning portrait of the pain of war. Their song, LAMENT FOR UKRAINE – which features the Albanian popstar Mentor Haziri – is their version of the Ukrainian folk song Verbovaya Doschechka, The Willow Board.


“In the early weeks of the Ukrainian war”, recalls DAVE McCUNE, one of those Irish musicians involved, “myself and my partner, Joey Moore, heard the harrowing news reports of women and children leaving Ukraine, leaving behind their husbands, their fathers, their sons…  to fight. And not knowing if they would ever see them again. Those reports left their mark on both of us. We felt helpless, but wanted to do something.”

          Dave revealed that he had first heard the Ukrainian folk song Verbovaya Doschechka when he saw the YouTube video Violinists Across the World Play for Ukraine. In that video, a lone violinist in his basement shelter in Ukraine plays a haunting melody, and is then joined virtually by a host of violinists from all over the world in an act of support and defiance. One of those violinists was Irish musician Lynda O’Connor. 

          Lynda is a wonderful violinist, and we work together regularly”, Dave continued. “Lynda shared their version of ‘Verbovaya Doschechka’ featuring Ukrainian violinist Illia Bondarenko and musicians from all across the world. That was the first time I’d heard ‘Verbovaya Doschechka’, and when we decided to record our version, Lynda was happy to take part. Joey and I wrote the English lyrics for ‘Lament for Ukraine’ and the second verse, sung by Mentor, is the original Ukrainian lyric.”


“Mentor”, revealed Dave, “was a teenager during the Kosovo War and literally fled for his life. Even though he was safely evacuated, he helped Kosovo refugees in Macedonia. He went from there to Australia as a refugee, and later returned to Kosovo to find his family alive. When I visited him in Kosovo in 2018, we passed one village in particular, Racak, the scene of a massacre which was the tipping point for NATO becoming involved”

        Also featured on Lament for Ukraine is Sharon Gaynor, a freelance singer who regularly appears with the RTE Concert Orchestra. In keeping with the personal nature of this project, Sharon’s husband, Eric Campbell, shot the video footage of Sharon here in Ireland.

          Session guitarist Dave Molloy, played electric guitar – featured on the track’s extended instrumental ending – and Albanian musician Keli Guga played the haunting Persian bamboo flute, the ‘Duduk’, with Dave McCune himself producing Lament for Ukraine, and also playing percussion, drums and bass guitar.

          With the project’s main intention being to further highlight the heart-breaking pain Ukraine is currently suffering, Mentor and Dave had the chance to do exactly that on the international stage on May 27th. They were invited to perform Lament for Ukraine at the Albanian Music Video Awards in Ulcinj, Montenegro, where they also received a special award for the song. 

~ You can view the official LAMENT FOR UKRAINE video by searching Lament For Ukraine (Verbovaya Doschechka) on YouTube.


Charlotte Lucas/ Aisling O’ Donovan


Press Release via AS Written, June 2022


Offaly designer CHARLOTTE LUCAS

Offaly designer CHARLOTTE LUCAS has announced that she is teaming up with AISLING O’ DONOVAN, the TIPPERARY ROSE 2022, for this year’s ROSE OF TRALEE festival. 

          Now based in Dalkey, the Mount Lucas born designer revealed the news in a post on her Instagram last weekend, writing, “I am delighted to announce I will be making a gown for the beautiful Aisling O’ Donovan, the 2022 Tipperary Rose. It is a pleasure to work with a truly beautiful and ladylike girl like Aisling”. 

         Charlotte was a nominee in the Designer of the Year category at the 2020 Irish Fashion Innovation Awards, having been honoured in that event’s Ones To Watch category the previous year. Her work has also been featured in several national publications, including The Gloss magazine, the Mail On Sunday magazine, and the Irish Independent’s Weekend Magazine, as well as being seen on national television on Virgin Media One’s long-running and hugely popular morning show, Ireland AM. 

          “I was delighted to be involved in the 2019 Rose of Tralee fashion show organised by Celia Holman-Lee, and to have the privilege of showing my work amongst immense talent that night”, Charlotte recalled. “I also had the pleasure of meeting Kirsten Maher, the 2018 Rose of Tralee that same night, such a lovely and beautiful person. And of course, I’ve grown up watching and loving the festival like so many in Ireland and around the world.”

          “So somewhere in the back of my mind”, she continued, “and like any Irish designer, I’m sure, the dream of the opportunity to be involved in such an iconic and world-renowned event, was always there. And I couldn’t be more pleased that I’ll be doing exactly that this year. And all the more so because I’ll be working with Aisling, who will definitely do her county of Tipperary proud, but will also be a fabulous ambassador for the whole country if she wins the crown in August.” 

          In response to Charlotte’s announcement, Aisling – a positive psychology coach -replied, “So grateful for your support, Charlotte, I am so lucky to be supported by someone of your calibre and talent”. 

Tipperary Rose 2022 AISLING O’ DONOVAN

Aisling was selected as the Tipperary Rose – and as it happens, the first contestant to be selected for the Rose of Tralee in the post-pandemic era – back in March. It’s been all go for Aisling since that big night, with special appearances now a regular part of her life, including receiving a Mayoral Reception from Lord Mayor Michael Murphy in Clonmel Town Hall in recognition of becoming Tipperary’s 2022 Rose. 

          She even ran into the Special Forces – Ultimate Hell Week star, DS Ray Goggins, when he spoke at a special event for the Tipperary Ladies Gaelic Football Association. Indeed, running is something that plays a big part in Aisling’s life, with the founder of The Áthas Academy having completed both the Great Limerick Run in May, and the Cork City Half-Marathon earlier this month. 

          With that kind of drive, and now with Charlotte on her side too, Aisling will certainly be more than ready to face Dáithi Ó Sé come August! 

~ You can follow CHARLOTTE LUCAS at charlottelucasstyle on Instagram, and Tipperary Rose 2022 AISLING O’ DONOVAN at aislingodonovanx, also on Instagram. You can also follow THE ÁTHAS ACADEMY on Instagram at theathasacademy.


Sandra Conway/ LiaQbell


Press Release via AS Written, June 2022


Offaly based event-planning specialists LIAQBELL are celebrating making the shortlist for this year’s MIDLANDS 103 Customer Service Awards, just weeks after having the honour of decorating one of the most famous locations in Ireland, the historic ROUND ROOM of the MANSION HOUSE in Dublin. 

The fabulous work of LiaQbell for the Team Ireland Olympic Ball in the famous Round Room of Dublin’s Mansion House

        LiaQbell, whose motto is ‘Making Memories Magic’, certainly seem to be doing exactly that for their clients around the midlands, with founder SANDRA CONWAY able to raise a glass to being nominated in this year’s Wedding Accessories & Decor Company of the Year category. The overall winner will be announced at a gala black-tie event at the Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise on July 4th. 

          Speaking after receiving confirmation of LiaQbell’s place on the awards shortlist, Sandra spoke about her excitement and gratitude at the news, but also made clear her passion for what LiaQbell is all about…

          “I’m so happy to have been nominated, this is a beautiful moment for me. So the first thing I want to do is say the biggest thank-you to everyone who took the time to vote for me. Without everyone who nominated LiaQbell, I wouldn’t be able to experience this great feeling today. LiaQbell exists to make people happy, to do everything possible to make sure that our clients’ most special moments become some of their most magical memories. We work so hard to make this happen, but we also have so much fun meeting the most amazing people along the way!”

          “And of course”, Sandra continued, “I must express my gratitude as well to all of the judges who have compiled the shortlist. I have so much respect for what they have all done and achieved in their careers, so for them to even acknowledge LiaQbell like this is something that means a lot to me. I can’t wait for the big night next month. I think everyone there will be winners in their own right, so we will all make sure to celebrate no matter what happens!” 

          Making the Midlands 103 Customer Service Awards shortlist is the second significant milestone for Sandra and LiaQbell in the last few months. At the end of March LiaQbell decorated the historic Round Room of Dublin’s Mansion House for the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s Olympic Ball, a special event to honour athletes who represented Ireland across the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.  Among those honoured on the night were gold medal winners Kellie Harrington and rowing pair Paul O’ Donovan and Fintan McCarthy. 

Another view of LiaQbell’s spectacular work in the Round Room

          The Round Room was designed in 1821 to receive King George IV, and hosted the first ever meeting of Dáil Eireann in 1919. The Round Room has also welcomed guests such as Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco, and Queen Victoria over the years. 

          “When I first walked in there”, recalled Sandra, smiling, “I remember thinking…wow! Big room! But it was so spectacular, too. It was a real honour for me to be able to make that night for our Irish Olympic heroes something extra-special for them to enjoy! And for LiaQbell to become a small part of that remarkable venue’s history in our own way at the same time.” 

~ The MIDLANDS 103 CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARDS take place in the Mullingar Park Hotel on July 4th. You can follow LIAQBELL on Instagram and Facebook.