When Gerry Timlin takes the stage at Dickens Parlour Theatre on Thursday, March 22, he aims to bring a bit of perspective, along with some history and music of his Irish homeland.
Timlin, now a resident of Bethany Beach, has been traveling the world as a singer and musician since the early 1970s. His appearance at the Millville theater is part of the venue’s “Inside Story” speaker series, which has brought familiar faces from politics, journalism and theater to the local stage.
He said this week that he hopes to share some Irish history, perhaps starting with World War I.
“I want to make sure I get enough music in,” said the Ireland-born baritone. Ireland, he said, “was fully ruled by Britain” at that point in history, and he said that many Irish people “didn’t want to go to war, but did so because it put bread on the table. War was a job,” Timlin said.
The early part of the 20th century was a time of turmoil in Ireland, when citizens not only fought in World War I, but thousands were also involved in the Irish Rebellion of 1916, also known as the Easter Rising or Easter Rebellion. Irish republicans launched the Rebellion to end British rule over Ireland.
Timlin, who was born in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, said he plans to bring the history of Ireland up through the 1960s, during which he said civil rights were as central an issue in Ireland as they were in the United States. The question of discrimination in Ireland did not fall along racial lines, but instead along religious ones, with Roman Catholics adopting the philosophies of the American civil-rights movement starting in 1967.
“It was a very tough time in the 1960s,” Timlin said.
The next 31 years would bring shootings and bombings throughout Northern Ireland, which spilled into the Republic of Ireland, as well as England.
Timlin said he plans to weave together the modern history of his native country with music that not only helps tell the stories of those times and the struggles that defined them, but also exposes listeners to an important piece of Irish culture.
He said he has been interested in traditional and folk music of Ireland since he was a young man, winning singing competitions in Northern Ireland as a teen. In 2014, Timlin was invited to the Congressional Friends of Ireland Luncheon on Capitol Hill, where he performed with singing partner Tony Kane before an audience that included President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Speaker of the House John Boehner and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
One of Timlin’s most prized possessions is a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol as he performed there, he said. The flag currently sits on a bookshelf in his Bethany Beach home, along with one that he received when he became a U.S. citizen.
Although he has played in much larger venues, Timlin said he enjoys performing in the intimate space of the Dickens theater.
“It’s like playing in your living room,” he said.
Timlin first began coming to the Delaware beach area in the mid-1980s, when he played at the original Irish Eyes restaurant on Wilmington Avenue in Rehoboth Beach. After that, he played regularly at Shenanigans in Ocean City, Md., for many years, he said.
Tickets for Timlin’s appearance in “The Inside Story” series on Thursday, March 22, at 7 p.m. are free, but reservations are strongly suggested, as seating is limited. To reserve a seat, visit the Dickens Parlour Theatre website at www.dptmagic.com or call the theater at (302) 829-1071.