Spike Milligan material to be revealed at Sligo festival

Songs written by the Goon were found by actor daughter Jane who will perform them

Thirteen years after his death, Spike Milligan has provided a treasure trove of new material for a comedy festival in his father's home town of Sligo.

A collection of unheard songs written by the Goon for his family, has been unearthed by his daughter, Jane, who will give the first public performance of some of the compositions at the inaugural Bright Side of Life Festival.

The actor and singer hopes to make an album from the long-lost songs which she found in boxes of cassettes marked “Spike’s Unpublished Music” and “Ideas For Songs”.

Regarded as a comic genius, Spike Milligan was also a musician and writer whose openness about his mental health problems inspired the Spike Sligo comedy club, which is running the festival from April 8th to 12th.


Spike's father, Leo, was born in Holborn Street in Sligo and, just last November, Jane Milligan unveiled the "Spike Milligan library shelf" at Chapter's Coffee House in the town. Spike would no doubt have wry comments to make about the fact that the popular coffee shop has since closed its doors.

Film-maker Colin McKeown, one of the festival organisers, explained how fitting it was that Spike’s recently discovered compositions would be unveiled at a festival exploring the healing power of creativity on mental health.

“Spike talked about mental health and he addressed the stigma and we took that on board when we set up Spike Sligo,” he explained.

The festival programme will include a session entitled I Told You I was Ill, Spike's preferred epitaph, during which a number of people will speak openly about their mental health struggles. (After objections from church authorities Spike's family put the Irish version "Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite" on his headstone.)

Local musician Kieran Quinn, who played a number of gigs with Jane Milligan in Sligo last November, will be the musical director when she performs her father's material at the Hawk's Well theatre on April 12th.

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports from the northwest of Ireland