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Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland

GUEST,jim bainbridge 06 Jan 17 - 01:18 PM
Iains 06 Jan 17 - 08:29 AM
Iains 06 Jan 17 - 07:52 AM
GUEST,Louise Kitt 05 Jan 17 - 09:00 PM
keberoxu 25 Nov 15 - 08:46 PM
Keith A of Hertford 04 Nov 05 - 01:25 PM
Keith A of Hertford 04 Nov 05 - 01:21 PM
Dave Wynn 04 Nov 05 - 12:20 PM
Big Mick 04 Nov 05 - 11:49 AM
Big Al Whittle 04 Nov 05 - 11:49 AM
Dave Wynn 04 Nov 05 - 11:39 AM
Rutger 04 Nov 05 - 09:08 AM
leftydee 03 Nov 05 - 10:29 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Nov 05 - 07:14 PM
Big Mick 03 Nov 05 - 06:38 PM
Beer 03 Nov 05 - 04:56 PM
Dave Wynn 03 Nov 05 - 12:24 PM
Big Mick 03 Nov 05 - 09:01 AM
Tam the man 03 Nov 05 - 08:55 AM
Liam's Brother 03 Nov 05 - 08:12 AM
Teribus 03 Nov 05 - 01:51 AM
dick greenhaus 02 Nov 05 - 10:03 PM
GUEST 02 Nov 05 - 11:27 AM
ElwynnMaxon 21 May 05 - 12:31 PM
ejsant 21 May 05 - 07:53 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 20 May 05 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,Statesthetruthasheseesit 20 May 05 - 07:24 AM
GUEST,Allen 20 May 05 - 05:23 AM
Wolfgang 20 May 05 - 05:13 AM
Wolfgang 20 May 05 - 04:42 AM
Muttley 20 May 05 - 04:14 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 20 May 05 - 04:07 AM
GUEST,Statesthethetruthasheseesit 19 May 05 - 12:45 PM
Keith A of Hertford 19 May 05 - 10:05 AM
Grab 19 May 05 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,JTT 19 May 05 - 09:47 AM
Keith A of Hertford 19 May 05 - 09:42 AM
alison 19 May 05 - 08:52 AM
Big Mick 19 May 05 - 07:00 AM
GUEST,JTT 19 May 05 - 06:06 AM
Muttley 19 May 05 - 05:05 AM
GUEST,Irish Mark 19 May 05 - 04:14 AM
GUEST,Allen 19 May 05 - 04:12 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 19 May 05 - 03:29 AM
ard mhacha 19 May 05 - 03:24 AM
Dave'sWife 19 May 05 - 02:51 AM
GUEST,Dave'sWife at work 18 May 05 - 11:55 PM
GUEST,Irish Mark 18 May 05 - 05:01 PM
GUEST,David Ingerson 18 May 05 - 04:54 PM
GUEST,Dav 18 May 05 - 04:50 PM
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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 06 Jan 17 - 01:18 PM

Yes Raggytash, think you are right there- time to get back to the songs from those awful times, the point of this thread.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Iains
Date: 06 Jan 17 - 08:29 AM

It took a widespread failure of grain crops in the late 18th century, and resulting famines in Germany, Ireland and Scotland for the importance of potatoes as a food crop to be recognised in northern Europe.

By the 19th century they had become a staple food, a factor in Europe's population boom. Blight, unknown when potatoes first arrived in Europe, now became a grave hazard.
No cure was known for the blight until potato-growers downwind from a copper-smelting plant in South Wales noticed that their crops were blight-free. However it was not until 1882, almost 40 years after the famine, that scientists discovered a cure for Phytophthora Infestans: a solution of copper sulphate sprayed before the fungus had gained root. At the time of the famine there was nothing that farmers could do to save their crop. Since then 'Bordeaux mixture' (a spray of copper sulphate and lime) has been used to protect conventionally grown crops.
It is the height of tragedy that the cure for the blight was found by smelting ores in Swansea that were imported from numerous mines in West Cork and the Beara penninsula where the effects of the famine were perhaps the most extreme. Although by 1880 irish copper imports were in decline as new world mines such as butte took precedence.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Iains
Date: 06 Jan 17 - 07:52 AM

Songs of the great Irish Famine.


http://cbladey.com/patat/Songs.html
Some of these have already been listed.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,Louise Kitt
Date: 05 Jan 17 - 09:00 PM

John Tunney - Remember Dubh Loch was one of the most powerful sean nos songs/story I have ever heard of the famine. I can supply words and a copy of words and melody if you would like them. This song was recoreded by CCE on the cassette (yes that long ago) called "a bar of a song" recorded by John Tunney (son of Paddy Tunney) Donegal


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: keberoxu
Date: 25 Nov 15 - 08:46 PM

Thread creep, I suppose, to contribute this. It has no music. James Clarence Mangan had months to live when he wrote it, in 1849. It has now been published in his Collected Works by Irish Academic Press (Poems, Volume 4, pp. 137 - 138)


T H E    F A M I N E

It was a time when thoughts and violets bloomed --
When skies were bright, and air was bland and warm,
And Pleasure every fleeting hour assumed
A new and strange Chameleon hue and form.
When, suddenly, that hand-cloud, once beheld
From Carmel by the Tishbite seer of Eld --
Appeared, and foresayed coming storm.

All minds were called away. The slumberers who
Had slept through years of Idleness awoke --
All felt a consciousness of somewhat new,
The lightning prelude to the thunder-stroke.
GOD struck on every heart, and men grew pale --
Their bliss was metamorphosed into bale.
There was no Power they dared evoke!

Even as the dread Simoom of Araby
Sweeps o'er the desert and through the pathless air,
So came, 'mid Ireland's joy and revelry,
That cloud of gloom above her visions fair.
The thoughtless wondered, and the thoughtful wept.
And those who through long years had dreamt and slept
Arose -- too many to Despair!

Despair? Yes! For a blight fell on the land --
The soil, heaven-blasted, yielded food no more --
The Irish serf became a Being banned --
Life-exiled as none ever was before.
The old man died beside his hovel's hearth,
The young man stretched himself along the earth,
And perished, stricken to the core!

O, GOD! Great GOD! Thou knowest, seest, Thou!
All-blessed be Thy name! This work is Thine --
To Thy decrees, Thy law, Thy will, we bow --
We are but worms, and Thou art THE DIVINE!
But Thou wilt yet in Thine own day redeem
Thy Faithful; and this land's bright sun shall beam
To Earth a Pharos and a Sign!

Ye True, ye Noble, who unblenching stand
Amid the storms and ills of this dark Day,
Still hold your ground! Yourselves, your Fatherland,
Have in the Powers above a surest stay!
Though Famine, Pest, Want, Sickness of the Heart,
Be now your lot -- all these shall soon depart --
And Heaven be yet at your command!


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 01:25 PM

Big Mick,
You wrote
"justify policies in the North of Ireland that continue to subjugate and discriminate against folks"

I thought all such policies have been consigned to history.
Which still continue?


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 01:21 PM

Spot The Dog
You made an interesting suggestion/comparison.

(What about someone starting "songs of the higland clearances" it would probably produce at least as much bile and pointless invective)

I am not sure that it would produce as much.
There is certainly no comparable amount of debate on this forum.
The bearing of historical grudges, and the need to write emotive songs about events involving long gone generations, seems especially strong in Irish history.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 12:20 PM

Both points taken. It can work!

Spot


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Big Mick
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 11:49 AM

Spot, you should never feel that way. The various abuses of peoples all over the world leave plenty for all of us to apologize for. I bear no ill will towards the English people, as most I have met have been wonderful and gracious to me. What we are talking about was the policy of a government. The only ones that infuriate me are the ones who attempt to mitigate the actions of the times. Or the ones that attempt to continue to justify policies in the North of Ireland that continue to subjugate and discriminate against folks. Time for it to end.

We have all been guilty at various times on this forum of letting our passions get in the way of civil discourse.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 11:49 AM

well at the historical point being discussed, my family was Irish, but I am English now. I think its probably a bit presumptious to tell them to forgive us. The Irish Rebel songs are amongst the most beautiful songs ever written and they will always stir deep feelings in the audience as well as the performer.

However just as the Germans and Israel are keeping their eyes on the prize - so must we. You can't bury the past - nor should we want to. But we must not make our cultures a flashpoint, a cause of conflict between our countries.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 11:39 AM

I too agree with you Mick but robust discussion should not contain elements of personal abuse. The angst that people feel about these horrors sometimes spills into invective.

I sometimes feel like an apologist for being English (and Welsh but mainly english) because there isn't a solitary thing I can do about the Great Hunger except say I am sorry it happened. I wasn't there, neither were my Parents or Grandparents (who were welsh in any case). This frustration at feeling accused of something most decent people find abhorrent sometimes make me very angry, not at the accuser but at the situation of having no control of events that happened before I was born. I (usually) chose not to enter the discussion arena in case this frustration spills into my posts as it did from other posters on this thread.

Don't forget but forgive.

Spot the Dog


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Rutger
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 09:08 AM

My friend Jeff Porterfield has written "Black '47" - another song with some old family history. He posted it in Oct 2003 in a discussion thread; also the song was tweaked a bit in summer of 2004.
-Rutger


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: leftydee
Date: 03 Nov 05 - 10:29 PM

There is a wonderful Irish "pop" song by Luka Bloom. He's Christy Moore's brother. It addresses the suffering of those forced to immigrate during the starving times. It's on the album "Salty Heaven". It is called "Forgiveness" and is well worth a listen.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Nov 05 - 07:14 PM

I recognise that as artist 'an easy access to the emotions'( as Lord Olivier called it) might be a plus. However for the sake of those as yet unborn, we really do need a little less passion on this subject, and some cool clear steps towards peace.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Big Mick
Date: 03 Nov 05 - 06:38 PM

Guys, your feelings are understandable, but it points out one of the pet peeves I have. Invariably, when discussing this subject, or the troubles, whatever, some well meaning person gets upset when the subject turns to politics. But the event that spawned the songs we want to discuss is steeped in politics. As a performing artist, the discussions (often heated) have had a huge impact on my view of this, consequently on my interpretation. To discuss songs about the Great Hunger without the politics and passions involved would be pointless. The give and take on both sides by knowledgeable posters makes for great reading and helps all to understand.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Beer
Date: 03 Nov 05 - 04:56 PM

Right on Spot.
the Dog.
Beer


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 03 Nov 05 - 12:24 PM

Makes me wonder why people start threads like this. Before I opened it I knew where it would lead. What about someone starting "songs of the higland clearances" it would probably produce at least as much bile and pointless invective.

I hate it when MC sinks this low, with apology's to the genuine posters (who will know who they are)

Spot the Dog (part border collie and part bulldog)


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Big Mick
Date: 03 Nov 05 - 09:01 AM

Dan, I have Frank's CD and I must tell you that it is a wondrous collection, excellently rendered. But then, what would one expect from Donal Lunny and Frank Harte (God be good to him). I was not aware of the book, but I shall look for it straightaway.

I recorded a song written by a fella in Maryland that is called "Along the Famine Road".   A search in Mudcat should turn up the lyrics.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Tam the man
Date: 03 Nov 05 - 08:55 AM

fields of athenry


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 03 Nov 05 - 08:12 AM

This is the review of Frank Harte's CD The Hungry Voice that I wrote for Irish Music magazine in July, 2004. It appeared shortly afterwards.

FRANK HARTE with DONAL LUNNY

The Hungry Voice: The Song Legacy of Ireland's Great Hunger

Hummingbird Records HDCD0034

17 tracks, 79 minutes

Like their earlier recordings about the 1798 Rebellion and the Napoleonic era, The Hungry Voice looks at a defining period in Irish history, the Great Famine and its effect on the Irish People over the next 150 years. Researcher/singer/writer Frank Harte and producer/accompanist Donal Lunny are a prestigious team. Harte, the dean of Dublin singers for decades, and Lunny, a founder of supergroups such as Planxty and The Bothy Band, were among the first performers to be acknowledged during the revival in Irish traditional music which is now more than 30 years old. The Hungry Voice, dealing with an immense and difficult topic that has not been thoroughly examined through song in one place before, is without doubt one of the most important recordings of 2004.   

Few songs are composed in the midst of misery so this is, as it says, a 'song legacy' that incorporates pieces composed well afterwards including Luka Bloom's recent 'City of Chicago'. Frank Harte sings very well on all 17 songs, 7 of which are lightly accompanied by Donal Lunny including 'Sailing Off to Yankee Land' and 'Rigged Out', which will be new to most. More widely known songs such as 'Skibbereen', 'Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore' and 'Thousands Are Sailing to America' appear in full versions and are given fine treatment. 'The Green Fields of America' lauds immigrant life in Canada while 'Edward Connors' decries it. 'No Irish Need Apply' addresses prejudice against Irish Catholics in the United States and 'By the Hush' tells how some immigrant Irish who responded to the Union's call for recruits during the American Civil War were tragically let down afterwards. 'Erin's Lovely Home', 'Poor Pat Must Emigrate', 'The Shamrock Shore', 'Lone Shanakyle', 'Lough Sheelin Side', 'My Own Dear Galway Bay' and one of my favourites, 'Pat Maguire', a Molly Maguire anti-eviction song, complete the selections. Listening to the recording is improved by reading Frank's recollections of the singers who gave him many of the songs.

Equal partner to the music is a 50-page booklet, which distils Harte's years of research on the Famine and emigration and places the songs in human, socio-political, economic, historical and cultural contexts. The Great Famine was a complex event and this document explains it extraordinarily well. It is a sharp and artful picture of how Ireland's population decreased by 1.5 to 2 million people within a seven-year span and the profound and continuing effect that loss has on the Irish at home and throughout the Diaspora. Certainly, Irishmen had left their homeland en masse before. The British military and the penal transports had already taken untold multitudes away and America had already enticed great numbers of the worldlier minority. But the death by starvation, disease and exposure, and the forced emigration of hundreds of thousands during the mid-19th century was simply stunning. It was a devastating time as well for those who lived on in Ireland. Why did they survive and how?                  

Very highly recommended. This is a recording you are likely to share with a student or to learn a song from because The Hungry Voice will be a resource for students and singers for years to come.

Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Teribus
Date: 03 Nov 05 - 01:51 AM

Pure thread drift, but just to put our historian (European Specialist) right on a couple of points:

Muttley - 15 May 05 - 01:57 AM

Point One:
"The Irish had the same democratic rights as everyone else in Britain. Irishman were bundled off to Australia for political activities"

Well as a matter of fact so were Scots (Thomas Muir of Huntershill) so were English Tolpuddle Martyrs. Transportation to Australia is very well documented, it is possible to go through the names to find where people came from, what their offence was, the sentence handed down (For Australia it was normally a period of 7 years, 14 years, or transportation for life). I have as yet not found any case of anyone being transported for "Wearing of the Green", or for being ""Irish". The Guest you were responding to was absolutely correct in his statement with regard to democratic rights.

Point Two:
The Irish did NOT have any democratic rights from the mid 1600's when Cromwell invaded until 1930-ish when they won their independence.

Not true, I believe if you do actually look into it you will find that they had exactly the same rights as anyone else under the laws of the day. Cromwell by the way was as big a bastard to the English, Scots and Welsh as he was to the Irish, but every cloud has a silver lining, in doing what he did, at the time he did it, he actually managed to save Parliament and Britain's parliamentary style of government. By the Bye Ireland won her independence in 1921.

Point Three:
"Add to this the "Liberation of the death camps" Britain knew of Auschwitz before the war began and did nothing about it."

A student of History you might be, but you are a poor one, your knowledge of geography is lacking. Now tell me why I say that, and why your statement quoted above is ludicrous. Could it be that Auschwitz is in Poland and as such the British, nor even the Germans, could not have known about it BEFORE the war began, because if memory serves me correctly, it was the German invasion of Poland that caused both Britain and France to declare war on Germany.

Point Four:
"The death camps were, in fact, liberated (approximately 95% of them, anyway) by the US and Russian forces - NOT the Brits."

Then you have never heard of Bergen-Belsen on Luneburg Heath in Northern Germany, one of the largest German camps it was liberated by British Forces in 1945. A young BBC reporter called Richard Dimbleby was one of the first people to enter the camp. I think your Guest was making reference to the undoubted fact that the camps would not have been liberated if Britain had not made the stand it did in 1940.

Point Five:
"Germany did not suffer during WW1 - their soldiers did at the front - but at home things were quite 'normal' - as they were in Britain."

Rationing, massive social upheaval and underlying threat of open revolution. Many German soldiers at the front (A certain Mr. A. Hitler among them) believed that they had been stabbed in the back by the German civilian population, that civilian population having reached the end of its collective tether. Things were far from 'Normal' if normal refers to conditions and attitudes before commencement of hostilities.

Point Six:
"Finally - to the bombing again - BRITAIN was the first nation to bomb a city full of civilians when a bomber stream went off course early in WW2 and bombed Berlin. The Blitz was, in fact a retaliation for that action. Previously the Germans had confined their raids to military installations, radar installations and airfields."

So as a Masters student in history the mention of the Zeppelin and Gotha Raids on British cities during the First World War, will come as a great surprise, if not downright astonishment. Likewise the bombing of Guernica during that massive Fascist/Communist 'live fire exercise' otherwise known as the Spanish Civil War. Or maybe cities such as Warsaw and Rotterdam, the latter being flattened after having been declared an 'open city'.

Point Seven:
"I suggest you actually READ history instead of rendering your own" anglophobic version of it.

You seem to have opened up that "can of worms" - But then that is exactly what you intended to do. You opened this thread on the pretext of asking about Famine Songs, many here have responded to that request, so far I have not seen evidence of you remarking, or showing the slightest interest on their input.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 Nov 05 - 10:03 PM

Just to return to the topic, I was interested to learn that "The Praties They Grow Small" was originally published and copyrighted in the US several years before the Great Potato Famine. It, iys original form, had nothing to do with Ireland, amd was considered a humorous song. Variants that demean several different US states have been widely collected.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Nov 05 - 11:27 AM

"The Germans suffered greatly in both wars "

Maybe they shouldn't have started them then.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: ElwynnMaxon
Date: 21 May 05 - 12:31 PM

I have read this all before in many different journals and many different forums. This has also gone far afield from the original post.

It is hard to argue against one simple fact. Food was transported out of Ireland to other countries while many people in Ireland starved to death. I have no interest in the old politics or how they are manipulated to adress some real or imagined injustices in the present, people starved to death because of the apparent intended will of another group of people. The very though of using food as weapon to enforce or implement a political doctrine on a non combatant population is chilling.

That alone should be considered anathema by every person in this room regardless of who is doing it to whom.

E.M.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: ejsant
Date: 21 May 05 - 07:53 AM

Greetings Dave's Wife at a Work,

I too am in the NYC area. The earliest of my mother's family's emigration seems to be around the end of the eighteenth century. By the time I came around, the later nineteen fifties, there was little of direct memory in our family's lore. I am also part of perhaps the first generation that had another nationality mixed in with the Irish. Consequentially our family traditions were more American than anything else. I remember my maternal grandmother lamenting about the political and social struggles of the Irish during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as she was part of a predominately Irish community in the heights of Jersey City growing up, but we never sang songs about that as a child. I also remember discussions lamenting about No Irish Need Apply but again we didn't sing songs about that as a child either. I suppose that this was more a function of the mind set that children should not be exposed to the negative aspects of life. This was reserved for adult, or at the very least, later adolescent stages.

My learning more of my ancestral history has been an undertaking of mine of recent years although once "old enough" to understand I was indeed informed of the suffering of my ancestors but it was never addressed in such a way that I felt that the Irish were the only lot that suffered. Nor was the discussion of the suffering of my Irish ancestors offered in such a way that I felt compelled to dislike any nationality or ethnicity. I did learn to despise the actions of certain individuals in history but I was always raised to not condemn a nationality for the actions of some within that nationality.

East Durham is still a hot bed of Irish tradition and it is still referred to as the "Irish Riviera". Memorial Day weekend is still a big Irish culture celebratory weekend there and the Summer Irish Arts Week is still flourishing.

Greetings Graham,

Great points about the historical suffering of many people. I agree that prevention of such for any peoples should be the message taken and promoted throughout the world. Reflection upon past injustices should serve to motivate all of us towards the prevention of future occurrences. However it should be the compassion of the people that serves as the motivation and the people themselves that work together to right the wrongs rather than the armies of the capitalists in their stead as the later only serves to fulfill the needs of the relatively few. I truly believe that if we all extended our hand in compassionate effort to help another and this philosophy was carried in the hearts of all around the world we will recreate and sustain Eden. This is indeed the one dream of mine that if it were to come to fruition I would with great pleasure abandon all others. I suspect I am not alone in this hope.

Peace,
Ed


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 20 May 05 - 09:44 AM

Gosh, GUEST,Statesthefirstthingthatcomesintohishead, that's witty! I haven't heard that one before!!!

There was certainly a massacre of civilians at Wexford at least.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,Statesthetruthasheseesit
Date: 20 May 05 - 07:24 AM

Burke by name, berk by Reputation, replied to my statement: "What city in Ireland has suffered like Dresdon-answer: None" by answering "Drogheda. Wexford."

And these are in living memory, then? The point that I am making is about living memory. I do wish people would follow the argument a bit more closely.

However, in Drogheda and Wexford, no non-combatants were killed. It is not a good idea to look at Cromwell through the eyes of 19th Century Irish nationalism.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,Allen
Date: 20 May 05 - 05:23 AM

Oh, I hadn't actualy heard songs, just poems, though as the word is much the same in Hebrew I could have been misreading it.
There are lots of Israeli songs that it's tactless to play on a regular day in the year, as they are associated with tragic events.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Wolfgang
Date: 20 May 05 - 05:13 AM

I love reading about the political and personal background to songs. However, I don't love the who-has-done-worse, who-has-suffered-most approach. But I do love for instance Dave's wife perspective. That was a completely new thought for me (not singing these songs in company). Of course, that perspective is a fairly subjective perspective and may differ in others, but songs are subjective as well and do tend not to be completely balanced ("shouldn't we insert a verse about Auschwitz for balance?". They are sometimes even not fair or factually correct. But there's no reason to expect that. Songs are written to transport emotion, hope, despair and, at least since the invention of printing, the more balanced and fact oriented apporach is done in prose and in history books.

So hearing about family traditions and about feelings helps me to understand the reasons why these songs have been written. BTW, in political (and personal) discussions trying to listen to what someone else feels most times helps more than debating the facts cited for a feeling.

Another point: I have read here the good thought that some really catastrophic events don't lead to songs written at that time. Some of our songs about the black death for instance have been written after the event. If I was fighting for my life with nearly no hope of survival I's sing the songs I know and would not have the strength to write a new one. Times of hardship with no immediate danger to life, however, are good times for songs. Songs of lamenting, of hope, of accusations. But you need a bit of hope and strength remaining to be able to write a song.

So, there are actually loads of songs from concentration camps (I have a book full of them; the best know in English is 'peatbog soldiers'). But these are the songs written by people living under duress and hard conditions with physical and verbal abuse but with no immediate threat to be killed. These people (opposition to the Nazis) could hope for an end to the Nazi terror before their own death. I know of no song (written at that time) about the later extermination camps (for Jews, Roma,...). If there were any such songs, they'd have died with their writers half an hour later.

Very close to being an exception from what I've written are of course the poems (often set to music by others later) by Katzenelson in the Ghetto, during the uprising, and during waiting for the final transport. I'm fairly sure he has made a last poem in the packed train to Auschwitz, but we shall never know it.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Wolfgang
Date: 20 May 05 - 04:42 AM

I love reading about the political and personal background to songs. However, I don't love the who-has-done-worse, who-has-suffered-most approach. But I do love for instance Dave's wife perspective. That was a completely new thought for me (not singing these songs in company). Of course, that perspective is a fairly subjective perspective and may differ in others, but songs are subjective as well and do tend not to be completely balanced ("shouldn't we insert a verse about Auschwitz for balance?". They are sometimes even not fair or factually correct. But there's no reason to expect that. Songs are written to transport emotion, hope, despair and, at least since the invention of printing, the more balanced and fact oriented apporach is done in prose and in history books.

So hearing about family traditions and about feelings helps me to understand the reasons why these songs have been written. BTW, in political (and personal) discussions trying to listen to what someone else feels most times helps more than debating the facts cited for a feeling.

Another point: I have read here the good thought that some really catastrophic events don't lead to songs written at that time. Some of our songs about the black death for instance have been written after the event. If I was fighting for my life with nearly no hope of survival I's sing the songs I know and would not have the strength to write a new one. Times of hardship with no immediate danger to life, however, are good times for songs. Songs of lamenting, of hope, of accusations. But you need a bit of hope and strength remaining to be able to write a song.

So, there are actually loads of songs from concentration camps (I have a book full of them; the best know in English is 'peatbog soldiers'). But these are the songs written by people living under duress and hard conditions with physical and verbal abuse but with no immediate threat to be killed. These people (opposition to the Nazis) could hope for an end to the Nazi terror before their own death. I know of no song (written at that time) about the later extermination camps (for Jews, Roma,...). If there were any such songs, they'd have died with their writers half an hour later.

Very close to being an exception from what I've written are of course the poems (often set to music by others later) by Katzenelson in the Ghetto, during the uprising, and during waiting for the final transport. I'm fairly sure he has made a last poem in the packed train to Auschwitz, but we shall never know it.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Muttley
Date: 20 May 05 - 04:14 AM

JTT
Looked up "Na Connerys" on the web but came up only with a band that sings in Irish Gaelic - is this wg=hat you meant or is there a song by that name as well? Or is there a specific song by them you meant (BTW - as the offspring of a non-Gaelic speaking Scot, I don't speak Irish Gaelic - hopefully I can get around to learning the Scots version via a teacher I have just been put in contact with but that's a fair way off)

Of course the flippant "Is Na Connerys related to Sean in any way also comes to mind. Sorry: I have a terribly twisted sense (which my wife refers to as a alleged, laughable and lamentable style) of "humour"

Mutt


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 20 May 05 - 04:07 AM

GUEST,Makesitupashegoesalong said:

"What city in Ireland has suffered like Dresdon-answer: None"

Drogheda. Wexford.

I like the way he can quantify and evaluate other people's suffering.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,Statesthethetruthasheseesit
Date: 19 May 05 - 12:45 PM

""truth" ... is a moron with all the perception and acumen of a straining post. Save your prejudicial bleatings for your National Front brethren and leave the discussion fora to those with something substantial between their ears - Unfortunately in your case I'm afraid it's a case of "The lights are flashing, the bells are ringing, but there's no train on the line" OR alternatively he "has the six-pack but lacks the plastic thingy to hold it all together" OR as we say in Oz - a few snags short of a barbie / a few sandwiches short of a picnic / a few sheep short of a mob / a bit of lamb short of a roast / kangaroos loose in the top paddock - - - anyone getting the picture?????" - The Far from Venerable Muttley.

Was it something I said?

I could carry on with this and parry with his misconceptions, but quite honestly I feel I am banging my head against a brick wall. For the record, I am neither a National Front supporter nor do I have anything against Irishmen. I merely think they do go on a bit about how they have suffered, when, frankly, they havent in comparison with other people. This has been the thrust of my arguement and which Muttley seems to be avoiding. All my attempts to bring him back to what I actually said have failed miserably as he spirals off again and again onto unrelated subjects, and by doing so, helps support what I am saying. The whole Dresden thing is a perfect example. What city in Ireland has suffered like Dresdon-answer: None. I fell with the whole Australia thing, I should take this up, but with people like Muttley, I just know it will spiral onto other things and this could go on and on and on..... there is nothing I can do. It is hopeless really.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 19 May 05 - 10:05 AM

There are surely lots of songs about British oppression JTT, but don't most of them date from 1920 onward?


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Grab
Date: 19 May 05 - 10:01 AM

I would explain it by saying just as you can't use the 'N' word if you aren't black, you can't pontificate about The Great Hunger if you aren't at least of identifiable Irish descent.

Dunno - sometimes it helps to have perspective. To take a risky analogy (at the danger of going wildly off-topic), ancestors of Jews who were slaughtered in the Holocaust on the basis of race and religion are today persecuting Palestinians on the basis of race and religion, whilst simultaneously commemorating the Holocaust and saying "you can't understand unless you're Jewish".

Similarly, for the Irish who had to leave Ireland, being evicted from their land was an unbelievably personal matter for them, even if it wasn't really anyone's fault, so the evicters (landowners, mostly English) naturally get the blame. It takes someone from outside to see that the evicters didn't have much in the way of options - you evict people that can't pay, or you lose everything and die in poverty too. Even the British government wasn't long on options - do you feed the starving Irish, or do you feed the thousands of people around the Empire who depend on the Empire having the food and funds to do so? And the ancestors of the evicted keep singing "I wish I was back home in Ireland", even though all their family from at least their great-grandparents onwards were born and bred in Chicago or Boston, and they now have ample money to move over there if they want to.

There is a difference between "perspective" and "heartlessness" though. Whilst the failure of the harvests and all that resulted from it may not have been anyone's fault, the fact was that many, many people suffered and died, and no-one must forget that loss. And that's what annoys me about how it seems these songs are sometimes perpetuated - as a racist slur against the perceived oppressors in some romanticised fight, rather than a memory of real loss. If you say "we shall never forget", make sure it's "because too many good people died for no reason, and this must never happen again", and not "because we want a good excuse to keep hating group XYZ".

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 19 May 05 - 09:47 AM

No, lots of songs about oppression.

Famine's different. People don't necessarily behave well. So they don't want to remember.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 19 May 05 - 09:42 AM

I was interested in the subject of the thread, but not expecting to have a contribution. I just felt the need to challenge some of the statements made.

Re the discussion on the small number of famine songs not written long after and not written in America, is the same true of songs about British oppression as well?


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: alison
Date: 19 May 05 - 08:52 AM

the song someone mentioned above where Christy Moore lists the food exported from Ireland whie the Irish were starving is "City of chicago"

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Big Mick
Date: 19 May 05 - 07:00 AM

Let me add my apologies, as well. I get pretty tired of apologists, and I reacted in a way I shouldn't have.

Paul, that is a very interesting point and I immediately started thinking about the great tragedies and songs written during them and about them. Couldn't think of any, but it will be the subject of some research for me now.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 19 May 05 - 06:06 AM

Muttley, there were few songs about the Famine, and most of those that were written (like The Praties They Are Small) were written in America.

You might, from your own family experience, be interested in Na Connerys, a song in Irish about a family transported through the actions of an informer; the song, with beautiful poetry and a gentle, meditative tune, is a curse addressed to the informer.

Not to throw oil on troubled flames, but the Famine, like virtually all famines, was a concatenation of crop failure and human (in-)action. Racist eugenic ideas and laissez-faire economics conspired in the action of the British government, which took the view that the lazy and incompetent would be starved, to the better advantage of the strong and hardworking survivors.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Muttley
Date: 19 May 05 - 05:05 AM

Good God! I think the term for all this is "It's ALIVE !!!!!!"This was NOT what I intended and unfortunately got sucked into arguing with a parochial idiot against my better judgement. Allow me to clear a few things up - most of what I DID say was purely for "truth's" benefit to give him enough hangable rope - daresay I have achieved this end? We can only hope - bigotry, prejudice and ego have naught to do with folk music - except as subject matter.

Go back to my earlier post where I asked for this NOT to occur and then got 'flamed' by the so-called "truth": I tend to retaliate, and sometimes with heat - my apologies.

However, one comment has struck a chord - regards the (to simplify the various postings and contentions) "MOST crimes were punished by death - few by imprisonment" is basically how it can be interpreted.
Sorry, whoever wrote that but it is incorrect. YES, execution was a preferred option for many crimes above debt, however, it was generally applied more to "repeat" "serious" offenders of those crimes (theft etc.)
The general response to crime was imprisonment - this is what lead to the use of the literally dozens of prison hulks along the Thames and other warterways that would support them. The corollary of this was then "Transportation" to colonies because once there, the prisoner had to serve out his/her sentence (the most common was a sentence of around 7 years going by Australian records) and then, should the convict wish to return home - he/she was then required to EARN their passage home and pay for it: A task about as achievable as buying your own Jumbo Jet and flying yourself around the world should you wish to go somewhere today (so far John Travolta's about the only one capable of it). The means to do so was WAY beyond all but the most wealthy of "settlers", "emancipated convicts" or "Ticket-of-Leaver's". If I recall aright, even the great John MacArthur was taken back to England in chains but through lack of prosecution released and had to pay his way back to Australia again (his wife paid for it because by then she was wealthier than he!)

The bottom line. England preferred to "dump" its convicts on the colonies NOT as labour, but to relieve the overcrowded prison system and to get them out of its collective hair. The fact that virtually NONE could ever afford to return was a bonus.

If you wish for confirmation of this then I suggest you read the first few volumes of "A History of Australia" by Professor Manning Clark. Worldly regarded (not widely, but WORLDLY) as the most accurate, unbiased and definitive history of Australia and its settlement and development of any history written.

And for "truth's" benefit that includes Britain and the British historians as well.

For the mistakes I made through heated comments or inaccurate quotings - I apologise. But NOT to "truth" as he is a moron with all the perception and acumen of a straining post. Save your prejudicial bleatings for your National Front brethren and leave the discussion fora to those with something substantial between their ears - Unfortunately in your case I'm afraid it's a case of "The lights are flashing, the bells are ringing, but there's no train on the line" OR alternatively he "has the six-pack but lacks the plastic thingy to hold it all together" OR as we say in Oz - a few snags short of a barbie / a few sandwiches short of a picnic / a few sheep short of a mob / a bit of lamb short of a roast / kangaroos loose in the top paddock - - - anyone getting the picture?????

Sorry guys - feeling somewhat 'whimsical'

THANKS FOR ALL THE SONG SUGGESTIONS ANYWAY - don't mean to shout - but can't italicise for emphasis here for some reason

Mutt


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,Irish Mark
Date: 19 May 05 - 04:14 AM

A fair point, Paul. Most of the songs that I'm aware of the touch on the famine aren't from the time. Could be that such trauma discourages expression, or maybe people were preoccupied with survival. Given the loss of population around the time in Ireland, it could just be that we lost a lot of songwriters (a similar effect to that suggested by the Great War on artistic and cultural life in europe in the early 20th century).

Ard Macha - I read Dave's wife's post to refer to regional variations in manners and customs rather than conflict. Thankfully, there are still some regional variations in conversation around the country. It's not all Greater Dublin yet :)


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,Allen
Date: 19 May 05 - 04:12 AM

Come to think of it, I don't really know any songs about concentration camps. There are some about events like the Warsaw Ghetto, and any number of poems, but no songs as far as I'm aware.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 19 May 05 - 03:29 AM

Desperately trying to avoid the invective and spleen, is there any mileage in the idea that great human catastrophes often don't produce many songs in the folk tradition? I know of no songs about the Black Death (though Death and the Lady reflects attitudes that may have developed as a consequence), the 17th century plagues (except, just maybe but probably not, Ring-a-ring-a-Roses), the Fire of London (except London's Burning), the Eyam plague, the Bristol Channel tsunami, the Lancashire famine (17th or 18th? century- except a folk tale from Bolton-le-Sands about Pea Soup Year)...

Perhaps shock and despair don't inspire people.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: ard mhacha
Date: 19 May 05 - 03:24 AM

Dave`s wife,regarding regional differences,"My family is from western Ireland and his family is from the south" an Irish reader would find this statment baffling. I cannot imagine someone from Connaught having any conflict with a Munster person, except on the Hurling or football field.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 19 May 05 - 02:51 AM

I just now got around to completely reading all the political posts in this thread. Yikes!

Please, please do not think my post was taking ANY sides in THAT debate. I feel I have to say this after readingall the above posts. I was merely recounting the conversation I had with my own father about 2 weeks ago. Most Mudcatters have pointed out that there are not many songs in english that speak only of The Great Hunger and that is because the songs in english for the most part are addressing larger issues. For the emmigrants, the Great Hunger was part of a larger scheme of Opression. Now whether or not that is true is not my concern.

I mention this detail about the belief that the Great Hunger was part of a larger 'plan' or attempt to re-order land ownership only to further illustrate exactly why such songs were not considered fit for polite company in many Irish-American families. Call it 'folk-memory' if you wish, but the entire subject was distasteful. Notice that we never refer to our families as 'Immigrants' but as Emmigrants which underscores the lack of choice in the matter of leaving Ireland. It's unlikely that 'Immigrants' from other parts of the world had any more choice in their leaving, but to this day, it still irks Irish-Americans that their families had to leave and thus, they refer to them as Emmigrants. It's linguistic evidence of a belief.

Since politics, Home-Rule, Occupation, Land Evictions, the Cromwell Invasion, and so on all get rolled up into one big ball of bad memory, any reference to any of it tends to be distasteful. I'm not surprised that this thread got ugly but I am disappointed. I would explain it by saying just as you can't use the 'N' word if you aren't black, you can't pontificate about The Great Hunger if you aren't at least of identifiable Irish descent. That doesn't stop people from doing either thing.. but there you have it.

Again, my family is of more recent Irish origin than most Irish-Americans and I suspect that as a result, our family views on the subject are more restrictive. You don't really learn about that stuff in our family until you are old enough to appreciate the gravity of it all. My grandfather had cousins executed and for years he had this one cousin we had to call by one name in public and another in private because he was a fugitive from British justice (stemming from acts committed before 1919 I think). The family was convinved that if his real name became known he'd get shot in the streets of NYC. How real or imaginary that threat was, I have no clue. He lived into his 90s and had a huge family. It's not ALL ancient history.

Since all these issues tend to get rolled into one.. any mention of The Great Hunger will inevitably lead to thornier issues..thus - NO SONGS ABOUT ANY OF IT IN POLITE COMPANY.

Please, nobody be offended. If my family is deluded, they aren't alone. I can't really speak to the issue being only 40. I can tell you that there are more poems/songs in Irish that are closer in time to the event but they exist mostly in Libraries and Academic Collections.   One such poem was used on the Soundtrack to THE LONG JOURNEY HOME. I'll see if I can find the documentation.

I'd be interested to read actual discussion on the posted topic and not more political views if it can be avoided.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,Dave'sWife at work
Date: 18 May 05 - 11:55 PM

Oddly enough, I recently had a very long conversation with my father about songs which refer to The Great Hunger (as it is known in my family). In that discussion, he confirmed a number of things I have always believed such as it is the height of rudeness to ask an Irish person (Irish-American I suppose since that's what I am) either to sing a song about The Great Hunger or any questions about the Great Hunger. He describes it as being similar to some stranger walking up to a Jew who lost family in the Holocaust and asking for either a song about Bergen-Belsen or a story about Dachau. Now I admit that's a very harsh thing to say, but that was what I was raised to believe. I'm sure there's a more genteel way to phrase that which would be less offensive.

Of course it is NOT rude to ask such a thing on a Music board or a folklore board! Not in the least! I'm glad to OP did ask because it gives me the opporunity to ask other Mudcatters how they were raised to deal with the subject of 'The Potato Famine." I'm curious to hear.

In my family, songs such as Skibbereen , which refers explicitly to The Great Hunger and the emmigration of millions, were never sung outside of family gatherings and certainly not in public or before non-Irish audiences. I know that has changed a great deal in the past 50 years and it is common to now hear some songs which we never would have dared sing outside of our own community. As Documentaries such as THE LONG JOURNEY HOME deal with the subject and the songs, such old prohibitions are bound to break down.

Mind you, my father's family emmigrated from Ireland in dribs and drabs between 1916 and 1920. It's not like they were over here for generations during which they would become less likely to find such subjects painful. I asked my father if his mother's family who had come over a generation earlier than that felt any differently about such songs. He replied they were a little less likely to be offended by the subject but they still considered it terribly impolite and not a proper topic for discussion outside the family.

Typically, these types of songs would get trotted out very late in the evening, after the kids had been put to bed and when the singers and musicians would begin singing in Irish. I never did hear most of them until I was old enough to stay up past 10PM. Then, they'd sing all 14 verses of Skibberren, often unaccompanied with different singers taking each few verses. After a few such terribly sad songs, people would often weep and then somebody would lighten things up or worse.. the IRA songs would get sung. Yikes.. that was the worst. Tipsy Uncles raising glasses to Mick Collins and then to less heroic figures... oh the horror!

Sinsull is from NYC as am I and I assume she's Irish. I would be interested to know if her family held similar prohibitions against singing songs about that subject outside of the family or in public. I was born in the early 1960s and my dad was born in 1939. Perhaps younger Irish-Americans have not been raised with these types of restrictive traditions.

In the 1980s I dated an Irish fellow in NYC whose parents were from Ireland and their family had the very same ideas about these songs. My family is from Western Ireland and his family was from the South, so I doubt it was a regional prejudice. He and I used to go up to East Durham in 'The Irish Alps' on weekends and the bands there would never play such songs until very late at night. Of course, he was 10 years older than I was so maybe he just got stuck with the same cultural baggage my Dad carries.

I bet Sinsull has been to East Durham! I wonder if that place is still like it was? When I was spending a lot of time up there, my Dad's mother used to tell me stories about the trouble she and her siblings used to get up to in East Durham back in the 1920s. I wonder how long that place has been a largely Irish Resort. Anyone know?


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,Irish Mark
Date: 18 May 05 - 05:01 PM

Ignoring most of what's above, there aren't many songs that address the famine directly, particularly not from the time. Skibereen is a useful pointer on the general position of the Irish farmer, but not too famine specific. While it mentions blight, it's more concerened with land tenure and eviction than starving.

The fields of athenry is one of the most specific, referencing Trevelyan by name.

Most of the songs about the difficulties of living on the land - The Sky Road, Leaving the Land etc - could as well be about Australian or American farmers, or those anywhere else.

A few emigration songs reference the famine - Shane McGowan has a great line about "fear of priests with empty plates" in Thousands are Sailing, and as mentioned above City of Chicago covers similar areas.

I can't think of any not mentioned that specifically address the famine.

One thought that occured is that a search through the Gaelic tradition might yield you better results.


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,David Ingerson
Date: 18 May 05 - 04:54 PM

Oops!

There is a complication with the title of John Tunney's song. It's been listed here in a combination of English and Irish: "Remember Dubh Loch". On "A Bar of a Song" it is listed all in English: "Remember Doolough". That might help in searches for it.

David


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Subject: RE: Songs about The Potato Famine - Ireland
From: GUEST,Dav
Date: 18 May 05 - 04:50 PM


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