Folk Plus for March 20 1999

See for a better view of this (also, to poke around at WJFF).

My program today  is focusing on Irish History and Irish Language.  I am including tape from last night speaking with Joe Bray (Seosamh O' Brey) a native Gaelic speaker who lives in Liberty now but was born in Limerick in 1915.   He has taught at Orange County and Sullivan County Community colleges been honored many times with his invovement in keeping the Irish language alive and for his knowledge of Irish History.   He will give some introductions and place some historic meaning to some of the tunes that I'll be airing. First, lets just hear a little bit of Gaelic before we hear Joseph talk to us about the language. This is Clannad.

1.  Clannad Mhaire Bruineall (Fair-HairedMary)
     Clannad in Concert  Shanachie

I spoke with Joseph last night about how it was that he knew Gaelic when it was outlawed for so many hundreds of years and why he thinks that it has lasted

Joseph: "My grandfather did, and I knew Gaelic because I was living with him. When I went to school, even the teachers didn't know Gaelic. Some of them knew Gaelic but they couldna't read it or write it. Very often they would write out the English for it if they knew the translation and then have me take it to my grandfather to translate it for them"

Angela: Why could he read and write it?"

Joseph: He was born and brought up in Gaelic. His family his parents spoke Gaelic. As I said, he was born in 1860 and his whole family spoke Gaelic at that time, but his children didn't because when they came to Limerick (laughing) you better forget about Gaelic. At that time, 1920's, time of the Black and Tans I'm talking about. By the way, you could be jailed for speaking Gaelic. Did you ever see me with that that gold ring that I wear on my lapel? It's called a fanya that word means ring. It is associated with the Irish language in this fashion. Gaelic was prohibited, it was outlawed. In spite of that there were groups organized to keep on perpetuating it and sing the Gaelic songs and so on. So that they could recognize each other they invented a fanya. and wehen you met someone with a fanya you know he spoke Gaelic.

2. Clannad O Bean a Ti (Woman of the house)
    Clannad in Concert   Shanachie

Angela: This was from Clannad's Swiss tour 20 years ago and that tune Bhean a Ti is a rousing call for Irishmen to join the coming revolution, but the theme changed in some of the verses to a common drinking song. This was a device in what was known as "treason songs" to fool strangers about the real subject matter. In this way they could speak in Gaelic and give messages out.

I asked Joseph to speak about the difference between Scotch Gaelic and Irish Gaelic. Here is his answer.

Joseph: Oh `tis very different, very different. But the north of Ireland Gaelic I can understand that now, but not Scotch Gaelic. No it is very different, as a matter of fact you might say it is a horse of a different color altogether. Scotch I couldn't try to explain it. It is very very different.

3. Rankin Family An T-each Ruadh (The Red Horse)
    Fare Thee Well Love   Capital Records EMI of Canada

4.  Mary Jane Lamond  Sienn
     Suas E  Turtle Musik

Up next is a tongue in check tune called Gaelic envy ewhcih is the title of the cd, talking about how she could have made a lot of money like Mary Jane Lamond if only her dad had taught her Gaelic, Nancy White...

5.  Nancy White    Gaelic Envy
     Gaelic Envy   Borealis Records

Angela:   She doesn't want to eat it if it isn't oatmeal.  Speaking of food.. there are two kinds of seaweed mentioned in the next song- one is for dying cloth and one that is edible.  Evidently many people would sell seaweed and here is Joseph Bray talking about that.

Joseph:   Dulaman, that is seaweed.  Do you anything about how important seaweed is in the west of Ireland?  Oh, that's a very important thing especially used as fertilizer.  They had no manure, only seaweed- it is excellent!  And certain seaweed is edilbe  We used to call it duilisg  That's the Gaelic word.  It is can chew it..take it to can be chewing it all day and it is great if you have like I have now a sore or dry throat.  Duilisg is excellent for such a purpose.  They used to sell it on the street corners of Limerick when I was growing up, but I don't see it anymore.  It could be therte and I just didn't see it.

6.     Clannad   Dulaman

Angela:   Now we are going to hear a little bit of Irish History.  I asked Joseph to explain the term the wild geese

Joseph:   Na gaila feinya they say in Irish.  Many people have heard "The Wild Geese"  They are famed in song and in story.  The Wild Geese actually they  were those who had to surrender after the siege of Limerick in 1691.  They were eleven members of the Jacobin forces, the army of King James I.  After the seige of Limerick during which the Jacobin forces were defeated a treaty was signed in Limerick by the way- incidently in that connection there is a large stone on a pedistal in Limerick and it is known as the treaty stone.  Legend has it that this treaty was signed on that stone.  A clause in that treaty stated that the Irish army be disbanded.  They were given permission to leave the country.  They could go to France or join the British Army.  Most of them opted to go to France.  That was at the time of Loius XIV, and he was very happy.  There was already an Irish Brigade in france and he was only too happy to have them join with him  Now why the name the Wild Geese.

When they were boarding the ship in Limerick and Gallway it was in the fall over there.  During that period the wild geese were migrating from the Norwegian countries and going down on their annual trip to the south of France.  This takes place every year.  I've seen it myself many times and there are thousands of them and you can hear them passing over the houses.  They would awaken people in their sleep.  I am very familiar with it myself.  These were the geese migrating now.  Some poet  nearby he composed several ditties about the wild geese known in song and in story forever and ever.

Angela:   In this song  Shuil a Run  verses of the song refer to a lover's enlistment in the Irish Brigade after the war 1691 to serve in the French Army.  Again these gallant soldiers were referred to as "The Wild Geese"

7.  Clannad    Suil A Run

Following along with the struggle for independence which culminated in the Wild Geese 1691 with people leaving Ireland, many people stayed and there was an underground movement designed to thwart England's policy of ruthless opression.  One of the most gallant of these patriots was Edmund Ryan who was called Ned of the Hill after his birthplace in Tipperary.  Joseph loaned me O'Donnell's Songs of the Irish in which the author "a remarkable man ...who would indeed make fine material for an historic novel"  He was considered an outlaw by the Enlsih.  a 200 pound price was put on his head and he was forced to live as an outlaw.  He was eventually killed by a man named Dwyer who offered him shelter for the night and then killed him while he slept.  When Dwyer tried to collect the reward he found that just a few days earlier it had been lifted due to an Englishman who had paid it when Ryan had come to his aid after a robbery.

8.  Connie Dover    Ned of the Hill
     If  I Ever Returned  Taylor Park Music POB 12381, N. Kansas City, MO 64116

Up next Joseph talks about trying to hide in the woods and a tune called KilCash

Joseph:   Cill Chais.....Oh that is an interesting song.  It is in Gaelic....[He qotes some in Gaelic].  That is a song about an occasion during the Elizabethian wars.  Ireland was a heavily wooded country at the time.  Woods all over the place, especially oak trees.  The British  government decided to  to cut down those trees and that surved two purposes.  Number one, the rebels always on the run found refuge in the woods and it was hard to track them down, so if they cut all the woods down there was not place to hide and they could arrest them, which they did in due course.  But there was another reason, a far more mundane reason for the British to cut down the woods in Ireland.  As I stated most of the woods were oak trees, one of the most durable woods in the world.  It was transported to England and used for building over there.  As a mater of fact the roof of Westminister Cathedral, the Protestant one, is of Irish oak.

Angela:   Any Corkman worth his salt should know this song.

9.  Colconnan     Cill Chais
      Saint Batholemew's Feast         Oxford Road Records.

Angela:   Next we talked about the starvation.  As Joseph teaches, there was no famine.  You can't have famine when there is a plentiful amount of food  He calls this period of Irish history the starvation.

Joseph:   The starvation?  Oh, I could be talking about that grandfather...was born in 1850 and that was about four or five years after the height of the starvation.  There was never a famine in Ireland by the way, that ought to be mentioned.  There was never a famine there.  There was plently of food but the Irish people wern't allowed to eat the food that they were producing .  That went to England, that went to the Landlords....

10.  Karen Casey    The World Turned Upside Down
       Songlines   Shanachie

Joseph:   The only thing they had for food was potatoes.  Thats the only thing they were allowed to eat....all the crops they grew... it is to be noted  and it is on historical record now that there were bumper crops from 1843 - 47.  Millions of people perished all over the place.  The fortunate ones were able to escape and get to America.

11.  Laura  Burns and Roger Rosen   Killkelly Ireland  (by Peter Jones)
       Fast Folk Musical Magazine

Station Gaelic

Angela:   Irish is not without fun and humor.  I asked Joseph to talk about kid's songs.

Joseph:   There is a song for school children that has a nice air to it.  I don't think they ever translated it into English.  I goes like this, of course as I've already indicated I don't sing well these days, my throat is absolutely ruined.  It goes like this (singing)

Beidh Aonach amaireach i gcondae an Chlair,
     (There is going to be a fiar tomorrow in Claire) (three times)
Ce'l nhaith dom e ni bheidh ne ann
      (What good is that, I won't be there)

Maithrin an aigfidh tu chunaigh me (3 times)
A Mhuirin ooo  na h-eiligh e (don't even ask it)

Angela:   I asked about song kids tunes....he said many are nonsence words, like some of this tune.

12.   Clannad    DTigeas a Damhsa
         Dulaman      Shanachie

Angela:   Here is a little of a children's tape......Sicin Licin.

13.  Children sing      A Shicin Licin Ca bfhuil tu ag dul.....

Angela:   As I said Irish is not without it's humor.  Here is a song about a confession.

14.    Colcannon     The Confession
         Saint Bartholemew's Feast    Oxford Rd Rec.  3501 Vallejo Denver Co. 80211

Angela:   (Here Joseph remembers gaelic to a song about a priest in love)

Joseph:   "Ar Eirinn ni neosfainn ce hi" is a story about a priest who fell in love with his brothers wife.  He said,  "For the whole of Ireland I wouldn't tell her name."

Angela:   Here is a tune by Dervish.

15.  Dervish    Spailpin Fanach (Itinerant laborer)
       Live in Palma   Kells Music  1 800 854 3746
       (about working here and there to live after the starvation hit)

16.   Dervish     Ar Eirinn ni neosfainn ce hi  (For Ireland, I won't tell you who she is)
        Live in Palma

Up next is the Chieftans doing Mo Ghile Mear, which is the first tune I ever bothered Joseph about to teach me.  Mo Ghile Mear..."my hero"
this is actually Sting singing it, with the Chieftans.

17.  Cheiftans      Mo Ghile Mear
       Long Black Veil   -   BMG Music

And a different approach to the same tune....

18.  Mary Sue Twohy     Mo Ghile Mear
       Training Butterflies    MSTunes

Angela:   Joseph talking about Roisin Dubh

Joseph:   Oh yes it is a beautiful song in Gaelic....a very old song.  It really details the period during the time of Elizabeth  the first in England.  Catholics were forbidden to be around the place at all, the Irish language was forbidden to be spoken there were no schools for Irish speaking children and by enlarge it was a very sad period of oppresion by the Elizabethan regime.  But at some stage some unkown poet or composer wrote a song about the period and he called it "Roisin Dubh".  Now this means my Dark Roselyn.  The poet refers to Ireland as my Dark Roselyn and tells about the trials and tribulations of Ireland at the time.  Now it was....nobody knows who composed the song by the way.  It is too bad, but nobody knows who composed it.  Now a lot of people do believe that James Clarence Mangan, one of the confederates during the uprising in Ireland, they believed that he translated it.  He did not.  James Mangan did not know any Irish.  But he heard the song and he was so impressed with the melody and sentiment, although he did not understand it, he had the leading scholor of the day James Donovan translate it for him and he made his own translation of it into English.  It was the story James Donovan told him.

My dark Rosyln
Do not sigh do not weep
The priests are on the ocean green
They march along the deep
Theres wine from the royal pope
Upon the ocean deep
You shall fade there  you shall die
My dark Rosaline
There are a number of verses to it.  It is too long really.  But that gives you an idea what it is about,  It is a beautiful air, and very few people can sing it in Gaelic.  It is very difficult to sing in gaelic and most people wouldn't even attempt it.  But there are some, you have to have a very good voice for it.  We have Mary O'Hara singing it.  This is a great song....I urge anybody within the listening area to pay good strict attention,  full attention to this song it is absolutely marvelous and Mary O'Hara does a great job on it.  I wish I could sing like her, but I cant.

19.  Mary OHara    Roisin Dubh     Off Joe's cassette tape.
      We aired only a bit, as he says it is very long.

Onto another favorite of his...Donal Og...

20.  Susan McKeown     Donal Og
       Bushes and Briars    Alula Records  1 800 932 5852

Up next is the tune that JFK loved so much, chosen to be played at his funeral.  I believe this tune is Scotch Gaelic.

21.  Talitha MacKenzie    Chi mi na Morbheanna / JFK
       Solas    Shanachie

Angela:   Canada's Juno winners this year....Leahy.....

22.  Leahy    B Minor

Angela:  The great talent of Leahy.  Up next Cathy Ryand and a fun tune

23.  Cathie Ryan     Sheain Bhain  (Fair-Haired John)

Angela:   Sort of a catch me if you can.  I'm going to end the show with 2 tunes of singers from our 7th annual Folk Benefit.  If you like d the accent of the introductions to the Dervish tunes, that is the accent of Ellen Hamilton the lead singer of Nightsun.  Here they are doing a moving tune on the death of her father, an Irishman, called "Home".

24.  Nightsun   Home

And  Another tragic loss...

25.  Garnet Rogers   Frankie and Johnny
       Summer Lightening    Snowgoose   Fax 905 648 0849

These last two artists are being featured at WJFF's Spring Folk Benefit, Sunday March 28th.  Tickets are going fast!