Reflections on the Inishowen Singing Festival – Guest Post by Brían Ó hAirt


Inishowen Singing Weekend 2013 - BH1

This post is a special treat. To flesh out SOTI by including the experience of more singers, I’ve begun asking singers of note to share their experience of singing with others. Brían Ó hAirt agreed to be the guinea pig for this series, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with his reflection on the 2013 and 2014 Inishowen Singing Festivals, put on by the Inishowen Traditional Singers’ Circle. I hope you enjoy, and go raibh míle maith agat, a Bhrían!  Continue reading

Eileen McManus/McMahon

 Here is  another from the exile song tradition, and it shares much in common with the other “Erin’s Green Shore” songs.  Here the young woman in the vision is given the name “Eileen McManus,” but you can find other versions under the name “Eileen McMahon” such as  Patricia Herald sings in a recording from 1991 as a part of the Inishowen Song Project at the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

The video below is of Jimmy Spruhan in Sacred Heart Chapel in Borris, Co Carlow.

Eileen McManus

Last night as I lay on my pillow
A vision came into my view
Of a ship sailing out on the ocean
And the wind it tremendously blew.

On the deck stood a handsome young maiden
Her features I ne’er saw before
As she sighed for the rights of her country
Saying I’m banished from Erin’s green shore.
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Dark Inishowen (Dark Iniseoghain)

Another visit to the ITMA’s Inishowen Song Project came up with this appropriately named song. Here the singer pines for his true love as he is stationed far away in Co. Fermanagh.  Michael McGonigle sings in Co. Donegal at the Inishowen Traditional Singers’ Circle. 

Dark Inishowen

Ye lovers of Beauty so fair and forlorn
So fondless I wander so far from my home
I am off by the moonlight or the break of morning
I’ll be found in the mountains of dark Inishowen.

I strayed ’round a place and they call it Clonmany
In search of a fair maid that I might adore
But a fair maid to love me I could not find any
From the Meendoran bridge to the Gap of Mamore.

Adieu to the place where I once had a fair maid
No wonder when absent that I do make mourn
When I think of those green fields the haunts of that fair one
Sure I pine for my darling in dark Inishowen.

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