Ireland has a rich culture or rather cultures stretching back literally thousands of years. Many of the early tales which have come down to us are warrior sagas which would have echoes or parallels in other ancient European cultures.
The two tracks played from this album tell of the scene just before the killing of one friend by another in battle Ferdia killed by Cu Chulainn ; the deed is portrayed as tragic, and the second track is Cu Chulainn's lament at his friend's death.
These are the parts of Europe which retained Celtic languages the longest though in fact most of mainland Europe was heavily influenced by the Celts in the period a few thousand years ago. Irish mythology tells of successive waves of invasion in prehistory and while 'the Celts' may have come and conquered in Ireland two and a half thousand years ago or thereabouts, modern research disputes how much it was a mass invasion as opposed to a new ruling class or culture coming and their language and customs being adopted by the natives.
We don't know what kind of music the ancient Celts had but internationally the modern 'Celtic sound' has become particularly associated with the ethereal, syncopated sound made by Enya she never plays live because she can't replicate the many-layered sounds of her music on a stage. This Celts theme is an early track by Enya made for a television series about the Celts.
It's on 'The Celts' albumalso 'Best of Enya' Track available on YouTube. Some Scandinavians may imagine! But Irish people know it was really St Brendan 'the Navigator'!
When Ireland became Christian from the 5th century CE onwards, a great missionary zeal sent Irish monks to Britain and mainland Europe where they established monasteries in what are now Scotland, England, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. A beautiful musical telling of the story of St Brendan's travels is Shaun Davey's orchestral suite 'The Brendan Voyage', an atmospheric rendering of the story which I would recommend. However the piece played here is sung by Christy Moore who is one of Ireland's greatest ballad singers.
His interpretation of songs is first class and he has always been unafraid to be 'political' — over nuclear power, the North, or other issues. The track is off the 'Ordinary Man' album This comic song Say Nothing - Colum Sands - Unapproved Road (CD one of my favourites. Saint Brendan wanders about the world in his boat with only an albatross for company. Did you know that Honolulu was found by a Kerry man?
Who went on the find Australia, China and Japan……. But - 'When he was turning seventy He began to miss the craic And turning to his albatross, Says he, I'm going back…. When he arrives back in Kerry he announces that 'His reason for returning Was to try and set up house.
The girls were flabbergasted At St Brendan and his neck, To seek a wife so late in life And him a total wreck'!!!! Rejected by the women, St Brendan heads back out in his boat and meets his old friend the albatross who says — 'I knew you'd never stick it out, It's great to see you, boss'.
Once the Vikings were no longer attacking Ireland, or had settled down to found some of Ireland's towns, the next invaders, fromwere the Anglo-Normans from England. English control of Ireland was tenuous up until the 17th century which was Say Nothing - Colum Sands - Unapproved Road (CD tumultuous one with various rebellions and wars.
At the end of the 17th century, however, English control of Ireland was the strongest it had ever been and the Plantation of Ulster from with English and Scots settlers meant that what had been the most troublesome province of Ireland for the English, Ulster, became the one which tended to identify most with the English crown. It is the Plantation of Ulster which is the chief cause of the partition of Ireland into Northern Ireland and the Republic today, and of the divisions in Northern Ireland between Catholic and Protestant.
Interestingly, Irish music was very popular at the court of Queen Elizabeth 1 at the end of the 16th century despite the fact that her armies were trying to defeat the Irish!
So Irish music was popular outside Ireland even then. The Chieftains are one of the most acclaimed, accomplished and long-lived of Irish traditional groups with a long line of albums and many collaborations with musicians from abroad. The two tunes played are ones associated with two sides in the wars of the 17th century and are taken from 'Chieftains — an Irish evening' album. It is the date of the Battle of the Boyne a river which flows through Drogheda when the forces of the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the forces of the Catholic King James but European politics was such that the Pope was praying for King William to win.
Bobby Hanvey is a well-known storyteller and personality in Northern Ireland. The song played is about the battle itself and is taken from an album which is a non-sectarian rendering of a number of Orange songs. A harp festival in Belfast in and the work of Edward Bunting preserved many Irish melodies which would otherwise have been lost. The old harpers who depended on the patronage of the Gaelic aristocracy were dying out; the old Gaelic order was at an end.
The harp had become a symbol of Ireland by the early 16th century; it was King Henry VIII of England who first placed it on Irish coins — and there is still a harp on Irish Euro coins today nearly five hundred years later. Some of the greatest melodies of the time are compositions of the blind harper Turlough Carolan — It tells of the battle! The 18th century was generally a better century for Ireland than that which had gone before though there was some famine and starvation.
It was an age of enlightenment in some ways and the ruling, Protestant, class in Ireland was gaining in confidence Catholics were basically an under class and not included in the system.
Irish man John Field, who developed the musical form known as a nocturne, lived in Moscow most of his life where he died relatively early, inpartly from alcohol abuse.
Those who were beside him at his death bed wanted to know if he wanted a priest and what religious denomination he was; he replied "I am a pianist!
Available from here and on YouTube with other pianists. Following 'the Flight of the Earls', of the Gaelic aristocracy into exile on mainland Europe inmany Irish fought in the armies of France and Spain and further afield.
However increasingly Irish people fought in the British forces in whatever wars England was fighting. This song is my favourite Irish lament, sung by the Cork singer Jimmy Crowley. The ''for freedom's sake'' may be a dirty lie but the song itself is full of humanity and loss. After the rebellion against British control of Ireland when around 30, people were killedEngland forced through the unification of the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland into one 'United Kingdom' in Irish poverty Album) increasing for a variety of reasons including the subdivision of land among all the children in a family rather than it going to the eldest and the dependence on the potato for the peasant's food was a potential disaster; that disaster struck in with the potato harvest almost completely wiped out by rot caused by potato blight.
It is generally accepted that about 1 million people died in the first year, and 1 million emigrated within 10 years mainly to the USA out of a population of 8 million. The population of the area of the Republic of Ireland only began to grow again in the s because Whatever You Say took such a hold as a way of life and survival.
The Famine is still controversial; between those who blame British policies for allowing a million people to starve to death and 'revisionist' historians who say Britain did as much as it could in the context of the times to help people. Nevertheless a gutsy, intelligent and brave performer and songwriter. This rap which doesn't necessarily do justice to her unique singing voice says there was no 'famine' — there was food available but the peasants who were starving couldn't afford it or had to pay their rent with it.
It's from her 'Universal Mother' album. This hit song from the end of the s now an Irish classic often sung at sporting events tells the story of a man being transported as a prisoner to Australia because he 'stole Trevelyan's corn' Charles Edwards Trevelyan was head of the British Treasury and in charge of famine relief, he favoured a very limited approach to helping starving people.
Athenry is in Co Galway. As with many such songs, we are given a particular picture without all the detail — we don't know, for example, what if anything he did to rebel 'against the famine and the Crown' beyond stealing corn to feed his starving children.
But it is a powerful song. Although the music and this version of the lyrics are by Pete St John, it is allegedly based on an Album) ballad; it's on Paddy Reilly's "The Fields of Athenry" album among many others.
This song is at one end the pretty benign of a spectrum of songs which might be considered 'anti-British' or critical of Britain's involvement in Ireland the two things are not necessarily the same. His work in radio and studio production earned him the Living Tradition Award for services to Folk and Traditional Music.
Colum has also produced countless albums for traditional singers and songwriters, he also produced four tracks on the Sound Neighbours CD released by the Smithsonian Institute in Washingtom, an album which was short listed for a Grammy Nomination. A natural witty storyteller, Colum charmed the audience with his lively and evocative melodies, colloquial lyrics and gentle humorous tales of everyday life in the past and present.
FE McWilliam. The famous Northern reticence, the tight gag of place And times: yes, yes. Of the "wee six" I sing Where to be saved you only must save face And whatever you say, you say nothing. Smoke-signals are loud-mouthed compared with us: Manoeuvrings to find out name and school, Subtle discrimination by addresses With hardly an exception to the rule That Norman, Ken and Sidney signalled Prod And Seamus call me Sean was sure-fire Pape.
O land of password, handgrip, Album), wink and nod, Of open minds as open as a trap, Where tongues lie coiled, as under flames lie wicks, Where half of us, as in a wooden horse Were cabin'd and confined like wily Greeks, Besieged within the siege, whispering morse.
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