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Tunes about St. Patrick?
by William Ramoutar
Even though St Patrick is our Patron Saint, there are not that many songs written about him. In fact, the other revered Saints of Ireland are almost, if you'll pardon the expression, in the same boat.
Take St Brendan the Navigator; supposedly, even before Columbus crossed the pond to discover America, he was there a donkey's age before him. Something we Irish know - Columbus stopped off in Ireland to consult ould St. Brendan's maps, before he started out on his epic voyage. Who knew? As I said, the Irish did!
Christy Moore wrote the most terrific tune about the bould one. It’s called St. Brendan’s Voyage and it’s on Christy's "Ordinary Man" cd which is readily available. And while we are on the subject of Christy, his St. Patrick tune is second to none. "Patrick was a Gentleman" is the name of it, and it is strangely only available on an old cd of his called "The Iron Behind the Velvet". It is sung unaccompanied and then bursts into a set, made up of reels, with Christy showing his prowess on the bodhrán. He uses his bare hand, unlike the traditional tipper, and does a far better job than almost anyone, too! His protests songs are on here and there is another tune, called “Patrick's Arrival.” Also his gentler side is featured in “John O' Dreams,” so this is definitely a cd to be found and treasured.
Other tunes about the wandering man with the Shamrock, as I already said, are few and far between, but Anúna's "Under the Greenwood" is the Lorica itself! Or at least about it. Legend has it that as Patrick tramped around Ireland, transforming the people of the Land into believers, he was pursued by enemies determined to cut his journey short. His Lorica, or, The Breastplate of St Patrick, was supposed to hide him and his followers from the killers and that, I can tell you, was no small issue. As he went County to County, his little band grew from visiting each village into a massive army of people from all walks of life. Anúna's version of this tune allows us to imagine a marvellous spectacle of what might have been. Although they sing many of their tunes in Latin, it takes nothing away from the unique and sometimes ethereal delivery of their well conceived arrangements by Michael McGlynn, one of their founders and leading lights. I am sure he must be tickled pink to see some of his old lead singers go on to dizzying heights now with Celtic Woman and their tours. After all, haven't Anúna as one of the the original voices of "Riverdance" opened our eyes to all aspects of the Irish tradition! This St. Patrick's tune is on the Anúna cd "Invocation," also still available.
Buy these cds now because many of the record companies don't carry the products for very long anymore and it is down to the artists themselves to stay up on it. With rising prices all around us here in the States, do you know that to buy a cd from Ireland now, without postage, is in excess of 27 dollars!! Mother of the Divine, where is all this going to end? The other thing of course is that I have only told you about two artists in this billet-doux - that’s love letter to all “yez Plebians” out there. I don’t want to pile stuff on you till you don’t remember which way is up or as they say in Dublin, “who sang wha’?”
Make no mistake, these cds aforementioned are works of pure genius and are sure to make you want to show your friends, this music is unforgettable and worth remembering every year. In fact, just like St. Patrick.
Lá Féile Pádraig.
Ordinary Man - Christy Moore
The Iron Behind the Velvet - Christy Moore
Invocation - Anúna
Photo Credit: Christy Moore/Roundstone Musical Intruments
BIO William Ramoutar
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Review written by William Ramoutar Presenter of Irish Ways Radio Programme, St Augustine Florida
Fri, Nov 24, 2017
Holly and Ivy hanging up and
something wet in every cup*
Not so long ago, Irish Christmas decorations were much simpler than they are now. The children gathered holly and ivy for adorning, windows, doorways, mantles and pictures, and the father would carve out a turnip in which would be placed a large red candle. This would go in the window to light the way for the Holy Family on Christmas Eve. Only in relatively recent times did an Irish family have a Nativity scene and a decorated tree in the house. As for Mistletoe, it's quite rare in ireland and is generally associated with ancient Celtic and Druidic fertility celebrations; this is most likely where the custom of kissing under the mistletoe comes from.
*Old Irish Christmas toast
Image: Pashley Manor Gardens.
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