Tommy Makem, Irish Bard

Nov 4, 2014 by

Happy Birthday, Tommy Makem–we miss ye.


Tommy Makem, the internationally known and loved Irish musician, poet and storyteller, was born on this day, November 4, in 1932. He died at age 74 in 2007.


I had the privilege of meeting Tommy Makem when he came to the now-defunct Atlanta Celtic festival back in 2000( or maybe it was 2001). He was a charming Irishman, who could tell a tale as adroitly as he played the banjo and tin whistle. Tommy was a legend of Irish music, and he lives on in his songs and in the many musicians inspired by him.  Here’s The Dubliners in 1978 performing The Town of Ballybay, written by Tommy Makem:


Born and raised in Keady, County Armagh, in Northern Ireland, Tommy grew up in a household where both parents were performers of traditional Irish music. Tommy emigrated to the US in 1955, eventually joining with the The Clancy Brothers for recordings and tours, becoming hugely popular in America and around the world.  Click HERE to see an excellent documentary about the history of Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers.
Here’s a video of Tommy and the Clancy Brothers performing The Wild Colonial Boy (remember it from “The Quiet Man” film ?) on the Ed Sullivan television show in 1965:

Makem was a prolific composer/songwriter whose compositions often became standards in the repertoire of the Clancy Brothers and many other Irish folk groups. Four Green Fields, one of his best known songs, became so popular amongst Irish Folk bands that many mistakenly thought it was an anonymously penned traditional Irish song. It is an emotional, moving tribute to the hardships Ireland has suffered throughout the centuries:

 


Other well known songs written by Tommy Makem include  Gentle Annie, The Rambles of Spring, The Winds Are Singing Freedom, The Town of Ballybay, Winds of the Morning, Mary Mack, and Farewell to Carlingford.  Even though many people mistakenly believe that Makem wrote Red is the Rose, it is truly a traditional Irish folk song.

Thank you, Tommy Makem, for your deep love of your native country, for your songs of pride and peace that you shared with the world, and for bringing Irish music to so many of us who first felt that magical pull from Ireland when we heard your songs.

 

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Strumming A New Version of Ireland’s National Anthem

Feb 8, 2014 by

There is a wonderful new version of Ireland’s national anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann, (pronounced OW-rawn nuh VEE-un) also called A Soldier’s Song, that’s been recently posted to YouTube.  Paul Quinn, an Irish musician from County Clare,  performs the famous song of the 1916 Easter Uprising as an acoustical guitar solo with verve and skill, breathing a spirit of vitality into a song written more than 100 years ago.  

 

Composed in English in 1907 by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heeney,  the tune became a marching song for Irish rebels in 1916 and throughout the founding of the Irish free State.  The Irish translation was written by Liam Ó Rinn (1888–1950) around 1917  and is the version most commonly sung.  The complete song consists of three stanzas and a chorus, although Ireland’s National Anthem is only the choral refrain.

Amhrán na bhFiann, Ireland’s national anthem

Sinne Fianna Fáil,
atá faoi gheall ag Éirinn,
Buíon dár slua
thar toinn do ráinig chughainn,
Faoi mhóid bheith saor
Seantír ár sinsear feasta,
Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill.
Anocht a théam sa bhearna baoil,
Le gean ar Ghaeil, chun báis nó saoil,
Le gunna scréach faoi lámhach na bpiléar,
Seo libh canaig amhrán na bhfiann

Soldiers are we,
whose lives are pledged to Ireland,
Some have come
from a land beyond the wave,
Sworn to be free,
no more our ancient sireland,
Shall shelter the despot or the slave.
Tonight we man the “bearna baoil”,[fn 4]
In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal,
’Mid cannon’s roar and rifles’ peal,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song

 

 

This Gaelic version by a different performer gives you a feel for the sound of the Irish version (which is how Irish schoolchildren learn it):

 

To learn more about Paul Quinn and his music, visit his links:
FACEBOOK

YOUTUBE

He has a very popular acoustic version of the theme from Game of Thrones and this gorgeous cover of The Rolling Stones Wild Horses, featuring singer Sinead Boomsma:

 

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Mar 16, 2013 by

cynthiasusan:

Iconic traditional Irish band, The Chieftains

their newest album—the Chieftains are living legends of Ireland

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Mar 13, 2013 by

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mairtintaidhgjack:

“They barely had uniforms, and in the beginning wore bits and bobs of various forces, half army and half police, which is why they were dubbed the Black and Tans. It is like a dirty phrase. A curse. An expletive. Well I know it.”

On Canaan’s Side, Sebastian Barry
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Mar 12, 2013 by

Three great videos featuring legendary irish musician Liam Clancy! http://www.irishmusicdaily.com/liam-clancy-videos

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Feb 20, 2013 by

Ned of the Hill is an ancient Irish song about the aristocrat and outlaw Edmund Ryan. This version of the song also incorporates a Scottish melody called ‘Hector the Hero’, and benefits from the beautifully sentimental voice of Connie Dover, who recorded this for the album ‘If Ever I Return’.

Images accompanying the song are taken from photoEverywhere.co.uk and freeirishphotos.com and from Wikimedia Commons, and show landscapes from the United Kingdom and from Ireland

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Apr 25, 2012 by

The Fureys—-The Fureys are an Irish male folk band of four brothers – Eddie, Finbar, Paul and George, from Ballyfermot, Dublin, and of Irish Traveller heritage. The band formed in 1978 and still performs to this today. Prior to the band two of the brothers toured as a duo known simply by their names as Eddie and Finbar Furey. Their brother Paul Furey had, together with Davey Arthur and Brendan Leeson, a band called The Buskers. Both were part of a successful tour through Germany called the “Irish Folk Festival”, first in 1974, where they performed as The Furey Brothers and later as The Furey Family. Here they were joined by their father Ted, a famous fiddler, who was 73 at that time. Ted Furey had recorded a solo fiddle album Toss the Feathers released by the Outlet label in 1973. Finbar left the band to begin his own solo career and Eddie, George and Paul reformed with Davey Arthur to became a successful band. Paul Furey died suddenly in June 2002.

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