New single honours late Strokestown woman Mairead McDermott

‘It’s as if the song has its own life, with Mairead weaving her magic from the other world’

‘Marcus Magee and The Hollaw Men’, a rising alternative rock band from County Cavan, are making waves with their debut single, which is a stirring tribute to the frontman’s close friend, Strokestown woman Mairead McDermott who died from cancer in 2020.

The track features renowned violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire and is receiving national airplay on RTÉ Radio 1 and elsewhere. It is now attracting international listenership after being selected by Spotify for their prestigious Release Radar playlist.


Pictured is Strokestown woman Mairead McDermott, who passed away in 2020 (from cancer). A moving and beautiful new song honouring her memory has been recently released by ‘Marcus Magee and The Hollaw Men’, whose frontman was a close friend of Mairead’s.

Mairead, fondly known to friends as Mac Dee, visited Marcus in a dream back in 2021, leaving him with a warning to take heed of health concerns that had been bothering him. Little did he know at the time, but the then 38-year-old father-of-three was about to enter into an intensive battle with stage 4 cancer, a diagnosis that was to reshape his life and rekindle what had been a long-standing but partially neglected passion for music.

Marcus Magee and The Hollaw Men was formed in 2022 after Marcus received his first clear scan. Feeling compelled to share his songs with the world, he brought together a band for what was supposed to be a once-off gig at a local theatre. Joined by bandmates Darragh Slacke on lead guitar, Ben Folkman on bass, Mark Brady on drums, Ronan Brady on flute, and his Danish wife Julie Magee Karlshøj on vocals, the talented six-piece was born. The gig created a huge stir, and was followed by a series of sell-out shows throughout 2023.

One year on, the adventure has evolved to the recording of their debut album, ‘Rising from the Hollaw’, a unique blend of folk, rock and alternative originals, which launches on April 27th at a sold-out gig in the Sugar Club in Dublin.

‘Mac Dee’, a haunting indie folk anthem, is the first single from the band’s forthcoming album and is being released on what would have been Mairead’s 40th birthday.

Marcus explains that releasing his first single marks a new era for him, and making Mac Dee his first choice has given him a way to honour Mairead, her life, and the impact she has had on him.

“I first met Mairead at college, then we were on a J1 student visa for a summer in San Francisco. I was busking at Fisherman’s Wharf, and she was selling boat trips to Alcatraz. We became very good friends, and both groups of friends started mixing and going to festivals together in the following years. She would dance with us into the early hours, even when she was undergoing treatment for cancer. Mairead was an incredible human, and I learned a lot from her. We were all heartbroken when she passed away”.

Marcus adds: “Mairead visiting me in that dream will stay with me forever. It was very surreal, like I was between worlds. It had a profound effect on me. It got into my consciousness in a way no other dreams have. At the time, I had some symptoms I was a bit worried about, but this shook me up and propelled me to get checked. The song is a tribute to her and to that experience”.

‘Mac Dee’ is a captivating track that captures the spirit of this life-changing event. “…You cross the ocean to find me…In this dream, you alert me, Mac Dee” sings Magee.

“The music has been like medicine during what has been a very challenging time for me and my family” says Marcus. “It’s been a wild and tough few years – the dream, the medical tests, appointments, fear, anxiety, chemotherapy, surgery, and scans. I’m still receiving immunotherapy treatment once a month and having regular tests. There’s been a lot of learning in it all and I was very fortunate to receive counselling thanks to the Irish Cancer Society.

“The whole experience has given me a new appreciation for life, for living, for music, and connecting back to myself. I feel so grateful to everyone who has supported me on this journey… my friends, my family, my wife Julie, the doctors, and the nurses. To play alongside my friends and bandmates has brought great joy and healing.

“I’m also especially grateful to have Colm Mac Con Iomaire play on Mac Dee. I’ve been a fan of his music since The Frames and now as a solo artist. He’s a master of his craft and a very decent and kind human. Colm brings huge depth, feeling, and energy to Mac Dee. Colm knew Mairead too, and even played at her funeral. He said that if I ever recorded it, he’d be happy to put strings on it.

“It ended up being such a powerful song. It’s as if the song has its own life, with Mairead weaving her magic from the other world”.

Marcus Magee and The Hollaw Men play the Cavan Arts Festival on May 19th and Whelan’s in Dublin on July 18th. Tickets are on sale now.

‘Mac Dee’ is available for streaming and downloading on various platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp. For more information, see