Revisiting Irish Pub Songs

Over the summer I have spent some time learning some old pub songs on piano.  As a teenager I used to listen to The Clancy Brother’s recording of 28 Irish Pub Songs.  

Yes, I was an odd teen.

I had all but forgotten these songs.  Much of the reason is that if you are not praising the joys of whiskey, you are singing about womanising or killing the “red coats.”

For a feminist and peace activist singing these lovely words can only take a farcical form.

I have begun revisiting the war songs.  While I can’t identify with the war sentiments, I can identify with the fighting sentiments.  I fight on a daily basis.  I fight for the environment, for peach in the home and in our communities, and I fight for women.

Here is my recording.  Of the ones I have made this summer, I think it is my best yet.  My favourite is the last verse,

Though all the bright dreamings we cherished went down in disaster and woe,
The spirit of old is still with us that never would bend to the foe;
And Connacht is ready whenever the loud rolling tuck of the drum
Rings out to awaken the echoes and tell us the morning has come.

While you honour in song and in story the names of the patriot men,

Whose valour has covered with glory full many a  mountain and glen,

Forget not the boys of the heather, who marshalled their bravest and best,
When Éire was broken and bleeding, and looked for revenge to the West.
The hilltops with glory were glowing. ‘twas the eve of a bright harvest day,
When the ships we’d been wearily waiting sailed into Killala’ broad bay;
And over the hills went the slogan, to waken in every breast
The fire that has never been quenched, boys, among the true hearts of the West.
I give you the gallant old West, boys, Which rallied her bravest and best
When Ireland was broken and bleeding; Hurrah, boys! Hurrah for the West!
Killala was ours ere the midnight, and high over Ballina town
Our banners in triumph were waving before the next sun had gone down.
We gathered to speed the good work, boys, the true men anear and afar;
And history can tell how we routed the redcoats through old Castlebar.
Though all the bright dreamings we cherished went down in disaster and woe,
The spirit of old is still with us that never would bend to the foe;
And Connacht is ready whenever the loud rolling tuck of the drum
Rings out to awaken the echoes and tell us the morning has come.
I give you the gallant old West, boys, Which rallied her bravest and best
When Ireland was broken and bleeding; Hurrah, boys!
Hurrah for the West!
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