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Posts Tagged ‘folk’

That time of the year again, when the Irish Film Institute roll out their annual Stranger Than Fiction festival. “Four days of documentaries that promise to entertain, inform and inspire” You can check out the complete line up over on the official IFI website, here.

Among the latest in the IFI Archive screenings, I am very, very excited about The Irish or the Memory of a People. Commissioned by French broadcaster ORFT3 in the early 1970s, this one was filmed at the height of the folk and trad revival in this country. It features performances from the likes of The Dubliners, Tony MacMahon, Willie Clancy and even Planxty. The Planxty footage was recorded at UCD Belfield campus, so bad jumpers and beards can be expected from the student folkies. The documentary features footage from inside Dublin trad and folk haunts like the Pipers Club, but indeed is much broader in scope than just the capital city.

The film will be shown on the 18th April (a Sunday) at 12.15

I’m also really excited by this one, which is getting its International Premiere in Dublin. I’m sure it will appeal to our own jaycarax and other fans of subcultures like it. From the time I heard ESG and Talking Heads in the trailer to when I read that Debbie Harry of Blondie fame is narrating the documentary, I’ve been on a google quest over this one.

“In the late 1970s New York City was teetering on the edge of total chaos. A failed economy, crime and en masse housing corruption gave way to a city in crisis. Yet, as is often the case, out of the economic and social strife that held the city hostage, a family of homegrown cultures that would forever change the world began to emerge and thrive”

This one will be shown on Friday the 16th April, with a 18.45 start. The producer, Michael Holman, will be on hand for a Q&A session afterwards.

Two very different documentaries.
Two very different cultures.

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We are big fans of Damien Dempsey on this Blog, so much so that if you go back through our history, I think theres three or four articles about the man. Last week he played a show in The Good Bits, as advertised on here, and support game from a good friend of mine, Ciarán Lenehan; If you haven’t heard of him, you will- he was picked by Dempsey himself to support after seeing him play a couple of songs in Peadar Kearneys. After his set, with Ciarán was tucking into a pint, Dempsey walked up to him and said “I don’t know what it is, but you have it…” True story.

I was given a disk of tracks by Ciarán a couple of years back and remember being blown away; I knew him in his days in Lugosi and Ellentic, and wasn’t expecting this sound from him, not by a long shot. A mix of new and old, trad and punk; think Frank Turner crossed with the man he supported at the gig below:

Anyways. Enough of me gushing praise, theres a dozen or so videos of him on the Youtube, or you can get some tracks here, or on his Myspace.

For those interested, Ciarán plays upstairs in Whelans on the 7th of April. I, for one, will be there.

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Do you want to see a video of six middle aged Swedish dentists known as the ‘Dublin Bombers’ playing Irish folk songs at a concert on the island of Öland in the summer of 2008? Thought so.

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“…in 1966 Eddie and Finbar Furey won the international folk award in Tralee against eighty other groups. For this they got £170 in prize money which they say lasted about three days. ‘It went to charity’ says Eddie. The ‘Guinness charity’ says Finbar”

Finbar and Eddie Furey LP

Finbar and Eddie Furey, Transatlantic Records, 1968.

“You’ll meet a tall, dark handsome man….” she told my mother. Mrs. Furey that was, who used to tell fortunes up in Ballyfermot. “Jesus, she got that one wrong!”

I had a great time recently researching the Liam Weldon article, and got a laugh out of the images and memories it brought to mind especially for my mother. German TV cameras in the front garden, Christy Moore on the wall, a whole family at work musically. The Fureys were much the same, on Spidel Road.

Six in the family, the four boys and the parents. A musicial house to say the least. Another cornerstone of what I consider the great forgotten Trad-scene of Ireland, the Downeys acts. For all the romanticism surrounding traditional music in Ireland at the time (1968), you hear very little about Ballyfermot and what was going on there. The Furey Family, The Keenan Family , Paddy Sweeney (who did some time in the Dublin City Ramblers), The Weldon Family, and all the drop-ins you’d get on occasion for The Phoenix Folk Club, with the likes of Andy Irvine, Jim Page, Donal Lunny, Barry Moore (Better known now as Luke Bloom), Mary Black, Ronnie Drew, Mick Hanly and others. Christy Moore did a fundraiser for the folk club too, and things were really going on to say the least. You were no one without an instrument up there, with mam trying out the fiddle briefly and the father opting for the bodhran.

Anyway, the album.

An amazing array of instruments. Whistles, pipes, bodhrans, guitars, whatever you’re having yourself. Finbar and Eddie were sweeping awards from a young age, with several junior championship awards for pipes under both belts, and the Ulster Senior Trio championship taken along with the father, Ted.

The Spanish Cloak
Come by the Hills
Sliabh Na Mban
Dainty Davy
Tattered Jack Welch
The Flowers in the Valley
Pigeon on the Gate
Graham’s Flat
Leezy Lindsay
Piper in the Meadow Straying
The Curragh of Kildare
Eamonn an Chnuic (Ned of the Hills)
This Town Is Not Your Own
Rocking the Baby

Come By The Hills:

“Eddie’s first song was written by Scottish TV producer Gordon Smith. The words are set to the traditional Irish air Buchal an Eire”

The Curragh of Kildare:

“Sometimes called the The Winter It Is Passed and was said by Dean Christie (Who included it in his collection of traditional ballad airs in 1876) to have been written about a highwayman called Johnson, who was hanged in 1750 for robberies committed on the Curagh, the pen heathland that stretches to the East of Kildare”

Enjoy these two. While currently away in Belgium, nothing makes me long for a Downeys pint like this LP! More on the way friends, more on the way.

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Liam Weldons 'Dark Horse On The Wind'


“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)

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The CHTM team are heading along to this. Should prove to be a entertaining night.

‘Button Factory County Sessions’ celebrates the magical music tradition of County Dublin. Featuring Colm Mac Con Iomaire (Kila/The Frames) and friends with the Góilín Singers plus special guests Peter Byrne and more.

Doors: 8pm | Cover Charge €15 / €10

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