A traditional Irish toe-tapper bemoaning the single state, Old Maid in the Garrett introduces an unmarried woman whose fate would probably lead to a dismal life in her brother's attic. She is extolling her virtues and ready to settle for anyone, even “a wee fat man”, as single women were considered a drain on the … Continue reading Old Maid in the Garrett
Another song that's featured in my Donovan family series, this song tells the story of a bold highwayman of the 1700s in County Cork who, like Robin Hood, stole from the rich to give to the poor. You can hear a live version of it by The Clancy Brothers here. BRENNAN ON THE MOOR 'Tis … Continue reading Brennan on the Moor
One of my favorites! This traditional song is a perfect rendition of the pull-and-tug between a courting couple: a man who's madly in love, and a woman who's trying to 'play it cool'. You can find a version of it by the inimitable Wolfe Tones here. RORY O'MORE Young Rory O'More courted Kathleen bawn. … Continue reading Rory O’More
A great singer with a great song…
Paddy Clancy, was an Irish folk singer best known as a member of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. In addition to singing and storytelling, Clancy played the harmonica with the group, which is widely credited with popularising Irish traditional music in the United States and revitalising it in Ireland. He also started and ran the folk music label Tradition Records, which recorded many of the key figures of the American folk music revival.
Clancy was one of eleven children and the eldest of four boys born to Johanna McGrath and Bob Clancy in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary.
Clancy died at home of lung cancer at the age of 76. He was buried, wearing his trademark white cap, in the tiny village of Faugheen, near Carrick-on-Suir.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.
‘The Wild Rover’
I’ve been a wild rover for many’s the year
I’ve spent all me money…
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This song about the Irish emigration was made popular in the late 19th century; it is hopeful and upbeat as many of the emigrant songs of the times were, as stories of gold to be found in the streets of America were common. The reference to “many a house besides” is probably a reference to … Continue reading Muirsheen Durkin (aka Molly Durkin)
A happy little ditty about courtin'. There's some discussion between the cities as to whether this song belongs to Dublin or Belfast. Though known as a drinking song today, it was originally a playground chant for children, accompanied by a game that was a cross between tag and “Ring Around the Rosie”. Suffice it to … Continue reading I’ll Tell Me Ma
#irishmusic #irishhistory #amwriting Stemming from an incident in Gortagleanna during the War of Indepence (1921), there are several versions of this song extant. These lyrics are based on a poem by Bryan MacMahon, which in turn is based on oral histories and older poems, some of which are lost today. A haunting version of this … Continue reading The Valley of Knockanure
This poem, written in the early 19th century by Irishman Thomas Moore, was set to music by Scottish composer Sir John Stevenson. It was perhaps most famously played at the Queen Mother's funeral in 2002. I also feature it in my manuscript WHISPERS IN THE CANYON, as the favorite song of Katie Donovan, the clan … Continue reading Oft In The Stilly Night
A traditional Irish tune. The rhythm of the words actually invokes the spin of the wheel, as the young girl tries to convince her grandmother there are no sounds from outside the window but those made by nature. There's a lovely version of the song by Catherine McKinnon with the Jubilee Singers here. THE SPINNING … Continue reading The Spinning Wheel
A crisp, easy-to sing tune about an Irishman who comes to the US to work on the railroads. So many Irish worked on the railway that, in the Eastern States in the 19th century, there was a popular saying: "an Irishman was buried under every tie." This song is actually very long, with at least … Continue reading Paddy on the Railway