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

The Nightingale (Bonny, Bonny)

Frank Harte singing in a casual setting.According to the Digital Tradition The song appears on 19th century broadsides; first in England and later in Ireland (though without Sam Henry’s Nationalist spin). It appeared in print in America as early as 1835 (The Forget Me Not Songster). It has been found in tradition in England, Scotland, Ireland, the USA and Canada.

The Nightingale

Oh woeful was the day when I was pressed to sail afar
And leave behind the girl I loved in the town of Ballinagard.
The shady groves were my delight till I was forced to sail.
You all may guess at my distress lying in the Nightingale.

Oh, grief and woe that I must go and fight for England’s King.
I do not know his friends or foe and war’s a cruel thing.
The Nightingale lies near at hand, my time alas is brief.
From pearling streams and mountain rills I part with bitter grief.

No more I’ll walk the golden hills with Nancy by my side
Or stroll along the sun-bright rills or view my land with pride.
We sail away at dawn of day. Our sails are ready set.
When Old Ireland’s shore I see no more, I will sigh with deep regret.

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False Lover John

A great archival recording of Corney McDaid singing this song of women who runs off with a man who is only trying to murder her. Like in many other similar songs, she outsmarts him. I found this song during one of many hours visiting the Digital Library of the Irish Traditional Music Archives.

Oh false lover John he courted me, for every hour in the day,
He courted me until such a degree as I hadn’t one word to say.

‘It’s take in all your father’s gold and all your mother’s money,
And steal the keys of your father’s stable with thirty steeds and three.’

She took in all of her father’s gold and all her mother’s money,
She stole the keys of her father’s stable with thirty steeds and three.

She mounted on a white milk steed, rode on by the clear silver light of the moon,
And they rode on to the river bank where there they did get down.

‘It’s lie you here Miss Magdelene this night along with me,
For here I drowned seven king’s daughters, the eighth one shall be you.

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