Raglan Road

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of singer Luke Kelly. He was only 44 at the time.  As a singer, instrumentalist, and a founding member of The Dubliners, Kelly was at the forefront of the re-popularization of traditional ballads of Ireland and the British Isles beginning in the 1960s.  His legacy lives on through the musicians he inspired, as well as a few landmarks renamed and (perhaps soon to be) erected in his honor.

Here he is singing the well-known setting of Patrick Kavanagh’s poem Raglan Road in 1979.

Raglan Road

On Raglan Road of an autumn day
I saw her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare
That I might one day rue
I saw the danger and I passed
Along the enchanted way
And I said let grief be a fallen leaf
At the dawning of the day

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The Ballad of Springhill

The band U2 pays tribute to The Dubliners’ late Luke Kelly in this great performance from 1987. This ballad was written by American folksinger Peggy Seeger and English singer Ewan McColl and recounts the story of the “1958 Bump” in Springhill, Nova Scotia.

The Ballad of Springhill

In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia,
Down in the dark of the Cumberland Mine,
There’s blood on the coal,
And the miners lie,
In roads that never saw sun or sky,
Roads that never saw sun or sky

In the town of Springhill you don’t sleep easy,
Often the earth will tremble and roll,
When the earth is restless miners die,
Bone and blood is the price of coal,
Bone and blood is the price of coal.

In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia,
Late in the year of ’58,
The day still comes and the sun still shines,
But it’s dark as the grave in the Cumberland mine,
Dark as the grave in the Cumberland Mine.

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The Night Visiting Song

Luke Kelly sings “The Night Visiting Song.”

I must away now,I can no longer tarry,
This morning’s tempest,I have to cross,
I must be guided,without a stumble,
Into the arms I love the most
And when he came to his true love’s dwelling,
He knelt down gently,upon a stone,
And through her window,he whispered lowly
Is my true lover within at home.
Wake up,wake up love it is thine own true lover,
Wake up,wake up love and let me in,
For I am tired love and oh so weary,
And more than near drenched to the skin.