“Yet there’s always hope in anyone singing as well as this man sings on this record, singing words as true and as deeply felt as these, in this voice both lonely and full of power. This is Dublin singing and Irish singing, as Dublin as the Easter Rising, as Irish as the Love Songs of Connacht or Flanders fields or the Limerick Soviet that got clobbered”
-Pearse Hutchinson on Liam Weldons ‘Dark Horse On The Wind’
James Connolly (Track 5)
Liam Weldons ‘Dark Horse On The Wind’ is one of the classic Dublin albums. Both my own parents are of Ballyfermot stock, and Liam lived opposite my mothers family home where she says a familiar face or two could often be seen. Ballyfermot played no small part in the ‘Folk Renaissance’ of the 1960s and 70s of course, with Downeys and other pubs in the area hosting fantastic singers nights and sessions, the Ballyfermot Phoenix Folk Night in particular. The Fureys of course were a huge part of the scene locally, as was Liam, but names and faces like Christy Moore would swing by on occasion too. Only quite recently I saw Andy Irvine upstairs in Downeys, so some of the tradition remains.
I’m rambling here however, back to ‘Dark Horse On The Wind’. A ’76 classic from Mulligan Records. A class act, thankfully brought back to us in 1999 with a star-studded launch in the Cobblestone (sadly on the other side of the city from Ballyfermot, but all is forgiven) An album that opens with a song reflecting on the troubles of the time in which it was written, lamenting our dead and cursing the nature of the “nation of the blind” that ensured yet more would join then. An album that closes with a beautiful song about, of all the innocent things in the world, the Jinny Joe. Between the Mausers and the Jinny Joes, we find songs of love and songs of class conflict. Blue Tar Road in particular dealing with, what Liam himself termed
“Travellers being pushed from pillar to post by the corporation and even some mortgage-minded vigilante type citizens”
Fintan Vallely, writing in the Sunday Tribune in 1999 about the songs of Liam Weldon, stated that
“Uncompromising, these challenged the middle-class complacency of the Irish Free State, and dangerously he trod ground shared with critics of a Irish national identity which he believed in”
That perfect Dublin mix, of the personal and political, the songs of love and the songs of liberty, is what makes ‘Dark Horse On The Wind’ the classic it is. Here, you’ll find ‘James Connolly’ (perhaps the best rendition I’ve heard, and a song of a man Liam termed “Irelands greatest socialist revolutionary”) and Smuggling The Tin, a nice short number on smuggling tin across the border into the free state.
While Liam was unsure who had written James Connolly, in ‘One Voice’ Christy Moore writes that he himself had
“…long since recorded it before I learned that it was written by Patrick Galvin, the Cork poet and writer. We have subsequently met.
….I did a subsequent recording for an album commemorating 100 years of the Scottish Trade Union council. The inclusion of the song caused anger among certain Scottish Trade Unionists who cared not that Connolly gave his life, living and dying, for all workers north, south, east and west. It was ironic uproar indeed, for Connolly was born in Edinburgh in 1869”
Liam Weldon passed away in 1995.
Smuggling The Tin (Track 2)