Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Minstral Boy

"The Minstrel Boy" is an Irish patriotic song written by Thomas Moore (1779–1852) who set it to the melody of The Moreen, an old Irish air. It is widely believed that Moore composed the song in remembrance of a number of his friends, whom he met while studying at Trinity College, Dublin and who had participated in (and were killed during) the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
However, the song gained widespread popularity and became a favourite of many Irishmen who fought during the United States Civil War and gained even more popularity after World War I. The song is notably associated with organizations that historically had a heavy representation of Irish-Americans, in particular the police and fire departments of New York, Boston and Chicago and those of various other major US metropolitan areas, even after those organizations have ceased to have a substantial over-representation of personnel of Irish ancestry. The melody is frequently played at funerals of members and/or officers of such organizations who have died or been killed in service, typically on bagpipes. Unsurprisingly, given its lyrics, it is also associated with the Irish Army and with traditionally Irish regiments in the British, United States and other armies.


The Gallipoli campaign took place at Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire from 25 April 1915 to 9 January 1916, during the First World War. A joint British and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul (Constantinopole) and secure a sea route to Russia. The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides.
In Turkey the campaign is known as the Çanakkale Savaş(lar)ı (Çanakkale Wars), after the province of Çanakkale. In the United Kingdom, it is called the Dardanelles Campaign or Gallipoli. In France it is called Les Dardanelles. In Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Newfoundland, it is known as the Gallipoli Campaign or simply as Gallipoli. It is also known as the Battle of Gallipoli.
The Gallipoli campaign resonated profoundly among all nations involved. In Turkey, the battle is perceived as a defining moment in the history of the Turkish people—a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the centuries-old Ottoman Empire was crumbling. The struggle laid the grounds for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Pasha, himself a commander at Gallipoli.
The campaign was the first major battle undertaken by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), and is often considered to mark the birth of national consciousness in both of these countries. As Anzac Day, the 25th April remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in Australia and New Zealand, surpassing Armistice Day/Remembrance Day.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

O'Carolan's Farewell to music

Carolan, sensing the end was near, traveled back to Mrs. MacDermott. "I have come here after all I have gone through, to die at home at last, where I got my first schooling and my first horse." he said (Mundey-O'Reilling manuscript pp 147--149 quoted in O'Neill p 100). He retired to bed, eventually too weak even to raise himself up after falling out of bed. After falling out of his bed Carolan said, "I would not be surprised at a man falling when walking, but it is a great surprise for a man to fall when lying down." Toward the end Carolan woke from sleep and asked the butler, William Flynn for a drink. After drinking he spoke:

I duly travelled round through Conn's territory
And I found (?) mighty and vigorous there.
By my baptism, for dispensing [drink] I never found
One who quenched my thirst aright but William Flynn.

They were the last words Carolan spoke. He died Saturday, March 25, 1738 at the age of 68, and was buried in the O'Duigenans' church of Kilronan.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010


The modern use of "Caledonia" in English and Scots is as a romantic or poetic name for Scotland as a whole. An example is the song "Caledonia", a folk ballad written by Dougie MacLean, published in 1979 on the album of the same name and covered by various other artists since, including Amy Macdonald.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bro gozh ma zadoù - Hymne national Breton

Bro Gozh ma Zadoù (Breton for Old Land of My Fathers) is the national anthem of Brittany. It is sung to the same tune as that of the national anthem of Wales, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, and has similar words. The Cornish anthem, Bro Goth Agan Tasow, is also sung to the same tune.
The Breton lyrics are the creation of François Jaffrennou in 1897, and the music was that composed by the Welsh James James for Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. The new song was first published in 1898, and circulated as Henvelidigez ("Adaptation"). It was chosen as national anthem (and a song to celebrate friendship between the Welsh and Bretons) in 1903, at a Congress of the Union Régionaliste Bretonne held in Lesneven. Maurice Duhamel adapted it for the piano, and it was first recorded by Pathé in 1910.
You hear here the version of Tri Yann

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The king of the Fairies

A hornpipe, played in a heavy metal way

Saturday, November 13, 2010


"Boolavogue" is a famous Irish ballad commemorating the Irish Rebellion of 1798. It was composed by Patrick Joseph McCall in 1898, for the centenary of the Rebellion issued Irish Noíníns (Dublin 1894).
Father John Murphy of the town of Boolavogue in County Wexford led his parishioners in routing the Camolin Cavalry on May 26, 1798. The Wexford insurgents were eventually defeated at the Battle of Vinegar Hill on June 21 and Father Murphy and the other rebel leaders were hanged.
McCall, who also composed the popular Irish ballads "Kelly the Boy from Killanne" and "Follow Me up to Carlow", wrote "Boolavogue" to the old Irish air "Eochaill" ("Youghal Harbour"). The tune was later used in the Australian traditional song "Moreton Bay", about an Irish convict's travails in Australia, and was also used by Seán Ó Riada as part of the film score for Mise Éire (1959). The song is inspired by songs contemporary to the events of 1798 such as Come All You Warriors.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Black and Tans

The Black and Tans as a subject still arouses controversy in Ireland. The Black and Tans were mostly former soldiers brought into Ireland by the government in London after 1918 to assist the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in their work.
For a number of years, the RIC had been a target for the IRB and then the IRA. RIC barracks were frequently attacked and members of the RIC were murdered. Therefore, recruitment to the RIC started to be hit and the RIC found it difficult to carry out its duties effectively, especially in the remote rural areas of southern Ireland. Never knowing if you were going to be the next target did a great deal to undermine morale in the RIC.
In 1919, the British government advertised for men who were willing to "face a rough and dangerous task". Many former British army soldiers had come back from Western Europe and did not find a land fit for heroes. They came back to unemployment and few firms needed men whose primary skill was fighting in war. Therefore, there were plenty of ex-servicemen who were willing to reply to the government’s advert. For many the sole attraction was not political or national pride – it was simply money. The men got paid ten shillings a day. They got three months training before being sent to Ireland. The first unit arrived in Ireland in March 1920.
Once in Ireland it quickly became apparent that there were not enough uniforms for all those who had joined up. Therefore they wore a mixture of uniforms – some military, some RIC. This mixture gave them the appearance of being in khaki and dark police uniform. As a result, these men got the nickname "Black and Tans", and it stuck. Some say that the nickname came from a pack of hunting hounds known as the 'Black and Tans'.
The Black and Tans did not act as a supplement to the RIC. Though some men were experienced in trench warfare, they lacked the self-discipline that would have been found in the Western Front. Many Black and Tan units all but terrorised local communities. Community policing was the preserve of the RIC. For the Black and Tans, their primary task was to make Ireland "hell for the rebels to live in". Over 8000 Black and Tans went to Ireland and while they found it difficult to cope with men who used classic guerrilla tactics against them, those who lived in areas where the Black and Tans were based, paid the price.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

All through the night (Ar Hyd Y Nos)

"Ar Hyd y Nos" ("All through the Night") is a Welsh folksong sung to a tune which was first recorded in Edward Jones' Musical and Poetical Relics of the Welsh Bards (1784). The Welsh lyrics were written by John Ceiriog Hughes. It has been translated into several languages, including English (most famously by Harry Boulton). The song is included in Fantasia on British Sea Songs at the Last Night of the Proms, representing Wales.
The melody was used by John Gay in The Beggar's Opera. It is also used in the hymn "Go My Children With My Blessing."
The song is highly popular with traditional Welsh male voice choirs, and is sung by them at festivals in Wales and around the world.
The song is also sometimes considered a Christmas carol, and as such has been covered by numerous artists on Christmas albums, most recently including Olivia Newton-John and Michael McDonald who performed the song as a duet on Newton-John's 2007 album Christmas Wish.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Stor Mo Chroi

"A Stór Mo Chroí" is Irish and means approximately "darling of my heart."
Brian O'Higgins was an Irish patriot who took part in the 1916 Rising and was an active Republican for the rest of his life. He published a yearly newsletter called the Wolfe Tone Annual that served as a counterblast to the views propagated by the ‘revisionist’ official historians in Ireland.
He wrote a large number of patriotic songs and poems, many under the pen name of Brian na Banban. Most of his works were written in response to specific events, so they have tended to become lost to dusty tomes as memory of the events faded and they lost their significance. Now when they are sung, they usually require an explanation of the events on which they were based.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Two Marches

Sheet music for two marches