There we go again, my third blog on Ireland, this time music is the chosen one. If I had plenty of struggles in my last blog trying to narrow down the list of places to be mentioned, not sure how I am going to put the final full stop to this new one: its music! The fact that music is a great part of my life is definitely going to make it even harder. Over the last few days, songs, singers, and bands have been bustling in my head, although no sort of shortlist has been easily arranged. I guess I will just follow the lead of my inspiration. I must admit that it has been more difficult than I thought it would be to write this third blog: it has taken me nearly two weeks to get it ready. After reading it over and over again, it has finally met my standards.
I moved to Ireland thinking I had a great knowledge of its music: U2, Sinéad O’Connor, Enya, The Corrs and The Cranberries. How naive was I! Do not get me wrong, they are all great musicians but at the same time just the tip of the iceberg of Irish music. Over the last nearly five years I have had the greatest pleasure of discovering a never-ending list of musicians who have been singing for me along my journey. I have also realised how important music is for the Irish people, it is part of who they are and it is now part of who I am.
Among the great bands which have been added to my playlist, I have to mention Aslan, their “This Is”, is probably one of my favourites since it has a very special meaning, never mind “Crazy World” a timeless song that resonates well these days. The Script, Hudson Taylor, Picture This, Kodaline and The Coronas, they all bring a fresh modern approach with plenty of lively songs to sing and dance along with. Hermitage Green with an acoustic folk touch, their “Quicksand” makes my feet tap but their cover version of “Dreams” gives me goose bumps all over, harmonious voices at perfection. A more recent discovery, We Banjo 3 with what they call Celtgrass, always cheering me up as they sing “Happiness is just around the corner”, in those down moments this song works as great therapy. The Fureys, more traditional but at the same time still engaging, looking forward to seeing them live this year. “Colours” by Rory and the Island is perfect for when those gremlins of mine turn up, it helps me sing them away. I couldn’t finish this paragraph without mentioning the amazing “Hothouse Flowers” which I had the privilege to see performing not so long ago. Despite not playing my favourite song “Gypsy fair” it was an unforgettable experience. They offered the audience a trad session at the end of the concert, what a gift! Needless to say, I was dancing and singing away.
When it comes to solo singers the list is long enough too. Mundy with his “July” and cover version of “Galway girl” together with the talented Sharon Shannon. Imelda May, a bit of a rockabilly, “Inside out”, what a great song. The two Damiens: Damien Rice probably more melodramatic and Damien Dempsey, so deeply rooted to his tribe. Glen Hansard who I came across thanks to the film “Once” on one of our camping outings. Nathan Carter, brings a modern touch to Irish country music, cannot help dancing around the sitting room to his “Wagon Wheel” cover version. Although Christy Moore is probably one of the first ones I discovered, he is simply brilliant. We saw him live recently and he is an outstanding performer, musician, and entertainer. Not sure if I can just mention one of his songs, though “Ordinary Man”, “The Voyage” and “Lisdoonvarna” are amazing … so many are good ones, but his cover version of “Beeswing” blew my mind away! I highly recommend you listen to it; you will not be disappointed that is for sure. On a very different note, Clare Sands, who I got to know thanks to my job, is well worth a listen, especially her “Awe na Mná.” And last, but not least, Emma Langford. My partner came across on the radio her with “The Winding Way Down to Kells Bay”, no words needed. We have been to Kells Bay, cloudy day but the song brought some brightness to the place. Emma’s music is somehow always there. We saw her in a small venue in Dublin at the end of 2019 for the first time, what a great gig, and she even dedicated us a song as requested, looking forward to seeing her again soon.
And of course, all the buskers of Grafton Street, who despite the rain, the cold and the freezing wind keep the music going on while people walk up and down the street. I have myself stopped to listen more than once, lots of talented musicians there. They somehow offer the walkers an amazing life soundtrack. Priceless to be wandering along there while the ears are presented with a haven of melodies. If you venture it to the right pubs later in the evening, you are guaranteed live music, another great source of talent. I have myself sung along to “Dirty old town”, “Molly Malone”, and “Caledonia” countless times, among many others. It was in a pub in Curragha (Co Meath) when I first heard “Grace”, probably one of the most touching romantic songs ever written.
As I am writing away, the music guru John Creedon is on the background. I could not talk about music without mentioning him. He has been there so many evenings: in summer while having dinner outside in the courtyard, in the spring while admiring the new blossoms with a cup of tea around the garden, in the autumn while working on some crafts with a candle brightening up the room, in winter while having a hot brew well wrapped on the couch and writing one of my blogs. As one of his twitter followers said recently: “Why does the music always sound better when John plays it?”.
I am aware that these few lines do not do justice to the amazing amalgam of Irish music, it is just my humble homage to the immense range of talent the emerald isle holds. I still have loads to discover. I could say my next step is going to be trad, I may need some Irish dancing lessons first though…
I was driving home the other day and was listening to one of those country music programmes, and a song caught my attention. I am going to finish this blog with its words, so as Margo sings: “you know Ireland is dear to me, and that Ireland wills always be, so deep in my heart, forever I may roam, you know Ireland’s where I call home”.
Jay Cee Moon ©