Songs Our Father’s Loved

The recent death of that great singer of the ‘60’s, and later, Larry Cunningham brought back memories of some of the songs he used to sing. Who could ever forget “Lovely Leitrim” or “Among the Wicklow Hills” and the magic that enthralled us when after our return home after several years working and living abroad we came to an Ireland that had a renewed spirit of affluence and confidence after a taste of the new industrial revolution that had come about during the era of Sean Lemass as Taoiseach.

New factories were springing up all over the country and new jobs were being created and the country, or at least much of it, was experiencing a period of hope for the future. The 26 County State which had been renamed The Republic of Ireland back in 1949 was an Independent,  Sovereign State and was also solvent which meant that it was not indebted to any other country or financial institutions. At the time that we came back in 1957 the country was booming, the coming war and troubles in the Six Counties had not yet started. The divisive issue of membership of the Common Market had not yet surfaced and generally the country was more prosperous than it had ever been. In other words it was a country worth coming home to after years in exile.  Television had arrived and was being celebrated with some great songs by the singing stars at the time Larry Cunningham, Bridie Gallagher, Dickie Rock, Margo O’Donnell, Sean Dunphy and several others.  In 1967 Sean Dunphy was awarded 2nd place in the European Song Contest with that super and unforgettable song based on the Hills of Clare “If I Could Choose”. Sandy Shaw won the contest on the same night with that lively number “Puppet on a String”. After that came Dana with her song that won the Eurovision, the first native Irish singer to do so.

The troubles in the North generated its own quota of new songs “The Town I Loved so Well” and tens of thousands of Northern Nationalists clapped their hands and tapped their feet to the rousing beat of “The Men Behind The Wire”. In the meantime several new singing groups had emerged The Dubliners, The Chieftains, The Woulfe Tones, The Feury’s, Foster and Allen, The Horseslips, The Saw Doctors and many others all bringing their own brand of entertainment to the scene. Then of course there was the era of the Showband scene and the Ballrooms of Romance in various parts of the country which brought the different generations together. There was as well during this period a great revival of traditional songs, music, recitations, storytelling, set-dancing, céilí dancing and step-dancing all fostered and promoted by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann a cultural organisation which was formed in the mid ‘50’s to promote interest in our native traditions and culture which at that time were in danger of dying out unless steps were taken to reverse this trend.  How successful the Comhaltas and its organisers and members were in this direction can be judged by the huge numbers who attend a County, Provincial and All- Ireland Fleadh Cheoil each year. All these traditional and native Irish pastimes have been brought to the highest level as the evidence from the various competitions show.  Some of   the great old songs, stories and dances have all been revived just like one of the poems we learned in our schooldays called “The Songs Our Father’s Loved”.  The first lines of this lovely poem were “oh, sing them on the sunny hills when days are long and bright” and then another line went like this “and sing them on the misty moor where ancient waters roared”. Comhalas not alone provided the revival of the old songs it also encouraged the composition of new songs. It was in this competition that some of us were mostly involved during our time and we must hope that our sons, daughters and our grandchildren can at some future time look back and be able to say that these were some of the songs that our father’s loved.  While on the subject of song composers George Langan rang me up a few days ago and during the course of our conversation he informed me that some of the songs on his CD’s have been requested in Australia and the songs recorded by George on these discs (his own and other composers songs) will be broadcast on Radio in that far off land.  Congratulations and well done to George on this high profile achievement.


Sympathy is extended to Donie Lyons of Donie’s Bar, Colbert Street, Athea on the recent death of his mother also to the other members of the family ‘May her soul rest in peace’.

Farm Problems

There is no doubt that the kind of summer and autumn weather that we get in this country has a huge bearing on whether a year can be said to be successful or otherwise. While of course it can have a major impact on the Tourist Trade it can also impinge on the holding of Sports Fixtures, festivals, Fund-Raising, Outdoor Events and indeed many other events that depend on the weather to be successful. However the most obvious and vital of all is the effect the weather has on farming activities on the land.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that the constant rainfall during this past summer and autumn has had a very negative effect on farming. There was a major difficulty in getting clean silage not to mention hay and as for the corn crops it was only an occasional day  this autumn that was in any way suitable for reaping but by all accounts the harvesting of the corn crops turned out to be somewhat better than was first expected.  In spite of the continuous rainfall and the sodden condition of the passage ways into the bogs many people still managed to bring home their winter fuel supply even though it was hard going with the bogs in an atrocious condition. Many of the older generation who remember previous wet summers have declared that the past summer weather was the worst yet.  Many farmers are now selling out some of their livestock because obviously they would not have enough feed for their animals to last them throughout the winter months. This is indeed a sad state of affairs in a country that depends so much on its agriculture industry.

Hopefully things might improve in future years because nobody wants to see another summer the likes of which we had this year.

Trip to Blarney

The Annual Outing to Blarney Woollen Mills with an optional visit to Cork City takes place on Tuesday October 23rd from Newcastle West and District. A coach will depart from the Market Yard, Newcastle West on the day at 9.45am serving The Square, Dromcollogher at 10am. Immediate booking of seats is advised as these are limited. Contact Nora Enright on 087-3664449 or Pat Dalton at 069- 62306. All are welcome.