Eleanor McEvoy, Ailie, Paula Meehan, Moyra Barry : Ceiliúradh Mhna Na h-Eireann (Celebrating the Women of Ireland 5)

A little over ambitious with my scheduling!

I forgot that not only did I have a duty to celebrate the season of St Patrick here on The Jukebox I also had to celebrate in person and recover from those celebrations!

So, a little delayed, but I trust well worth the wait, the Official Immortal Jukebox St Patrick’s Day Post!

Now read on ….

All Hail St Patrick!

All Hail the Women of Ireland

Today we conclude our tribute to the intelligence, wisdom and beauty the Women of Ireland have brought to the arts of Song, Poetry and Painting.

Songs by Eleanor McEvoy (At the Mid Hour of Night & A Woman’s Heart) & AIlie (The Rocky Road to Dublin).

A Poetry Reading by Paula Meehan  – ‘The Pattern’.

A Painting by Moyra Barry (1886-1960) : ‘Cinerria’

More years ago than I care to count seeking sanctuary from the crazed cacophony of life in London I frequented an out of the way social club whose clientele was largely comprised of Irish men and women who had emigrated to England in the late 40s/early 50s.

For an hour or two I would savour a pint or two of plain and drink in the rich accents and the rich conversation.

One of the habitues of the club, a whiskery Corkman, let’s call him Seamus, always greeted me by announcing, ‘You buy me a pint of porter and I’ll sing you one of Moore’s Melodies’.

My reply was always, ‘Done – let’s start with, ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ and if the thirst is on you and the humour on me we won’t stop until we’ve sung, ‘Oft in the Stilly Night’, ‘The Harp’ and, ‘The Minstrel Boy’ before we leave.

I usually emerged spiritually refreshed if somewhat intoxicated from the porter and the romanticism of the melodies.

Thomas Moore was something of a 19th Century superstar in English and Irish society.

His, ‘Melodies’ lyrics set to established Irish tunes and melodies were much admired by Lord Byron and became songs that entered deep into the consciousness of generations.

As such, in modern Ireland, they came to be regarded, in certain chilly circles, as period pieces from the parlour best left to the tourists to enjoy.

A view I never had any time for.

So, I was delighted to learn that Eleanor McEvoy had recorded an album entirely devoted to Thomas Moore Songs, ‘The Thomas Moore Project’.

The distinguishing mark of Eleanor’s career, for me, was a wholly admirable creative restlessness which led her never to attempt to simply repeat earlier successes but rather to challenge herself to open up new artistic territory with every new record.

It seemed to me that her background; incorporating a music degree, a spell in the RTE Symphony Orchestra and a string of imaginative singer/songwriter albums made her an ideal candidate to present refreshed versions of songs from Moore’s great canon illuminating them brightly for new generations to enjoy.

And, praise be!, the, ‘Thomas Moore Project’ turned out to be an absolute triumph due to the endless care and consideration with which the songs were approached.

Original, imaginative arrangements combined with superb instrumental playing and heart-piercingly intimate vocals shook the dust off and revealed the ravishing beauty and sophisticated emotional acuity of Moore’s works.

Eleanor McEvoy’s take on, ‘At the Mid Hour of Night’ reanimates those, ‘past scenes of delight’ and is indeed rapture to hear.

‘At the mid hour of night when stars are weeping, I fly
To the lonely vale we lov’d when life shone warm in thine eye;
And I think that if spirits can steal from the region of air,
To revisit past scenes of delight; thou wilt come to me there,
And tell me our love is remember’d even in the sky.
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Then I’ll sing the wild song, which once ’twas rapture to hear,
When our voices, both mingling, breathed like one on the ear,
And, as Echo far off thro’ the vale my sad orison rolls,
I think, oh my love! ’tis thy voice from the kingdom of souls
Faintly answering still the notes which once were so dear!’
*
*

Our Poetry Reading today comes from a former Ireland Professor of Poetry, Paula Meehan.

She has a plenitude of poetic powers at her command.

Reading through her works it seems that no aspect of the struggle to live a human life in our times has escaped her poetic eye and ear.

There is tenderness and rage, grief and joy and empathy embedded in her poetry.

She is a Poet who believes in the enduring power of Poetry to affect the human heart.

Her Poems exemplify the truth that there is a never to be sounded mysterious energy and power in Poetry.

She has said that, ‘ …Poems tell stories but there are also poems that just give you a moment of vision or transcendence .. two lines, two lines can save a life, I believe it.’

In, ‘The Pattern’ Paula Meehan captures with truth and tenderness the gravitational power of the Mother/Daughter relationship.

Today’s painting is by Moyra Barry.

Her special gift was for flower paintings.

These works have a quality of engaged observation and radiance which forces the viewer to take a breath and really Look!

Image result for moyra barry images

Now to a new star from Ireland.

Ailie (Blunnie) from County Leitrim.

Image result for ailie blunnie images

Her debut album. ‘West to the Evening Sun’ was a confident and mature work showcasing a talent that was wholly of the Now while being in no way cut off from the rich and diverse heritage of Irish music.

Highly atmospheric production added to the poetic imagination of her songs ensured the album packed a real punch.

Here she gifts us an unforgettable and invigorating version of the Rocky Road to Dublin.

Ailie plays Piano, Bass and Electric Guitar as well as all the singing here.

Daragh Dukes’ production  makes the whole thing gleam.

My, ‘Brand new pair of brogues’ did some high stepping to this one I can tell you!

I am going to conclude this tribute to Irish Women with a song by Eleanor McEvoy which has rightly become a modern standard, ‘A Woman’s Heart’.

I hope this series has made plain that there are some things only a Woman’s heart can know and that we should be grateful for that knowledge being passed on to us in Songs, Poems and Paintings.

There will never come a time when Eleanor will not be asked to sing this song and there will never come a time when it fails to move all the hearts of those who hear it.

All hail the Women of Ireland!

For Peg, Marguerite, Ann, Roisin, Hannah and Martha Brosnan, Irene, Geraldine and Nina Fitzpatrick, Maura Dee, Deirdre and Sinead Trant, Niamh & Aisling Blackburn and Patricia & Grace O’Sullivan.

 

Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Sinead Lohan, Catherine Ann Cullen, Letitia Hamilton, Ceiliúradh Mhna Na h-Eireann (celebrating the Women of Ireland 4)

The Jukebox continues the celebration of the glories of Irish Women with :

Songs from Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (An Mhaigdean Mhara) & Sinead Lohan (Sailing By).

A Painting by Letitia Hamilton (1878-1964)  – ‘A Rest from Hunting’.

A Poetry Reading by Catherine Ann Cullen (Meeting at the Chester Beatty).

Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, a Donegal native, is a wonderful fiddler and a spellbinding singer.
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With the traditional music group Altan she has honoured that tradition and shown that there is a considerable global audience for the music when it is performed with heart and drive.
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And, when Mairéad sings the song below there is something more than heart and drive; there is the shiver of an encounter with the numinous.
*
Her singing here dives to the deep core of the song and to hidden truths swaying in the subconscious.
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This is a lament and all of our lives will have cause at some point to call out for a lament.
*
No life escapes loss and exile. All time is borrowed.
*
Is cosúil gur mheath tú nó gur thréig tú an greann

Tá an sneachta go freasach fá bhéal na mbeann’

Do chúl buí daite is do bhéilín sámh
Siúd chugaibh Mary Chinidh ‘s í ‘ndiaidh an Éirne ‘shnámh
A mháithrín mhilis duirt Máire Bhán
Fá bhruach an chladaigh ‘s fá bhéal na trá
Maighdean mhara mo mhaithrín ard
Siúd chugaibh Mary Chinidh ‘s í ‘ndiaidh an Éirne ‘shnámh
Tá mise tuirseach agus beidh go lá
Mo Mháire bhroinngheal ‘s mo Phádraig bán
Ar bharr na dtonna ‘s fá bhéal na trá
Siúd chugaibh Mary Chinidh ‘s í ‘ndiaidh an Éirne ‘shnámh

 

 

You seem to be pining and forsaking the fun
The snowdrifts are heavy by the fords in the burn
Your bright golden tresses and smile gentle and mild
I give you Mary Kinney who has swum the ocean wide
“Darling mother, ” cries Máire Bhán
From the banks of the ocean and down by the tide
“Mermaid, my mother, my pride”
I give you Mary Kinney who has swum the ocean wide
I’m tired and weary and will be ’til dawn
For my darling Mary and my Pádraid bán
As I ride on the billows and drift with the tide
I give you Mary Kinney who has swum the ocean wide.

 

The Poet showcase today is Catherine Ann Cullen.

She has written a wonderful lyrical and informative essay (in essence an introduction to her PhD) which references the ‘Singing Without Ceasing’ and the ‘Murmur of Voices’ which formed the musical and cultural landscape of her childhood.

This is perhaps the source of the poise and intense musicality gold-threaded through all her writing.

I highly recommend her collections, ‘A Bone in My Throat’ and, ‘Strange Familiar’.

She has also written a book, nominally for 6-8 year olds, ‘The Magical, Mystical, Marvelous Coat’ which is truly enchanting whatever age your birth certificate might say you are!

All Poetry is a kind of cartography – a description and revelation of the Poet’s territory and the developing outline of a personal, emotional, cultural and literary landscape.

The poem below shows Catherine Ann Cullen weaving a brilliantly coloured and textured tapestry of recollected feeling. .

 

The Painting today is by Letitia Marion Hamilton.

Her paintings of the Irish landscape and rural life have the quality of intoxicatingly hazy summer dreams that linger in the imagination.

Artwork by Letitia Marion Hamilton, A REST FROM HUNTING, Made of oil on board

 

It is very rare for an artist enjoying critical and commercial success and with the promise of greater success in store to decide to simply walk away to pursue another life away from the stage.

Yet, that is exactly what Sinead Lohan has done.

In the mid/late 1990s she released two highly prized records, ‘Who Do You Think I Am’ and, ‘No Mermaid’ which still get selected from the Jukebox’s extensive library on a frequent basis.

Two of her songs were covered by Folk Icon Joan Baez and all seemed set fair for a stellar career as she was capable of writing distinctive hypnotic songs and of performing them with beguiling charm.

No new material has emerged since 1998 so we will have to treasure what we have.

Thanks for the songs and the singing Sinead.

If you enjoyed this post and know anyone who is Irish or of Irish heritage (and you do!) share it with them and ask them to share it further.

Next Post tomorrow Sunday 17th March, St Patrick’s Day – don’t miss it!

Eleanor Shanley, Inni-K, Rita Ann Higgins, Estella Solomons : Ceiliúradh Mhna Na h-Eireann (Celebrating the Women of Ireland 3)

Our celebrations today continue with:

Songs by Eleanor Shanley ( Come Back Paddy Reilly) & Inni-K (Teardrop).

A Painting by Estella Solomons (1882-1968) ‘Moppie Morrow’.

A Poetry Reading by Rita Ann Higgins : ‘The Hedger’.

The Irish temperament is formed out of the knowledge that, in the end, no one survives this world without a broken heart.

Irish singers, painters and poets have for millennia embodied this truth in their works.

Tragedy abides but the true artist, not ignoring the darkness, finds within themselves sparks of joy to light up the glowering sky.

In the voice of Leitrrim’s Eleanor Shanley we find a tenderness and sustaining sweetness that glows in the heart.

The song she sings here Percy French’s, ‘Come Back Paddy Reilly’, has a special poignancy for me as it was my late mother’s favourite song and its haunting air accompanied her coffin as we carried her out of the church at her funeral.

It was also sung as a lullaby to my wife by her late father.

We think of them both with love and gratitude and with smiles and tears whenever we hear this song.

The garden of Eden has vanished they say
But I know the lie of it still
Just turn to the left at the bridge of Finea
And stop when half way to Coote Hill

Tis there I will find it I know sure enough
When fortune has come to my call
Oh, the grass it is green
Around Ballyjamesduff
And the blue sky is over it all

And tones that are tender and tones that are gruff
Are whispering over the sea
“Come back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff
Come home Paddy Reilly to me”

My mother once told me that when I was born
The day that I first saw the light
I looked down the street on that very first morn
And gave a great crow of delight

Now most newborn babies appear in a huff
And start with a sorrowful squall
But I knew I was born in Ballyjamesduff
And that’s why I smile on them all

The baby’s a man now, he’s toil-worn and tough
Still whispers come over the sea

“Come back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff
Come home Paddy Reilly to me”

The featured Painter today is Estella Solomons who was a Dubliner.

She was a member of a distinguished Jewish family with both her father and brother being mentioned by he great chronicler of Dublin life – James Joyce.

Her mother was a Poet and her Sister an opera singer.

She was deeply involved in the Irish Republican movement as a member of Cumann na mBan and in the cultural life of post revolutionary Ireland through her own work and that of her Poet and publisher husband, Seamus O’Sullivan.

The humble steady gaze of her paintings and prints have a meditative stillness which can be intensely moving.

Image result for estella solomons images

Rita Ann Higgins is a Poet whose work has fierce feminine energy and lacerating emotional force.

As a Galway Woman from a large working class family she has broadened the canvas of Irish Poetry through an alert, inventive voice charged with righteous anger and absurdity.

This is a Poetry responding to and teeming with life in all its maddening plenitude.

Every now and again you hear a record that startles you by the freshness of its imagination.

‘The King has Two Horse’s Ears’ by Inni-K (Eithne Ni Chathain) from 2015 was one such record for me.

Irish Folk? Certainly.

But experimentally infused with Pop, Jazz and World Music accents.

All carried off with tremendous confidence and élan.

A record that repaid repeated listening.

Her new album, ‘The Hare & The Line’ has much to live up to!

In memory of Sheila Doyle and Joan Hickey.

Notes :

Eleanor Shanley recorded three highly recommended albums with the legendary group De Danann : ‘Jacket of Batteries’, Half Set in Harlem’ & ‘Wonderwaltz’.

I particularly prize her Solo albums – ‘Desert Heart’, and ‘A Place of My Own’ .

The two records she made with Ronnie Drew – ‘A Couple More Years’ & ‘El Amor De Mi Vida’ have a wonderful warmth.

If you enjoyed this post and know anyone who is Irish or of Irish heritage (and you do!) share it with them and ask them to share it further.

Next Post on Saturday 16th March – don’t miss it!

Maura O’Connell, SÍOMHA, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Lilian Davidson : Ceiliúradh Mhna Na h-Eireann (Celebrating the Women of Ireland 2)

We continue our celebrations today with :

Songs by Maura O’ Connell (Helpless Heart) &  SÍOMHA (July Red Sky)

A Poetry reading by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Studying The Language).

A Painting by Lilian Lucy Davidson (1879-1954) : Wicklow Goats.

A Paul Brady song sung by Maura O’Connell – it really doesn’t get any better.

Maura inhabits a song, finds its essence and then using all the considerable craft at her command sets it free to bloom in our imaginations.

There is a repertoire of traditional songs and modern folk classics that generations of Irish Women singers have returned to over and over again seeking to release and reveal the wisdom and mystery these masterworks contain.

Time after time I find it is to the Maura O’Connell versions I turn to first and last because these songs shine brightest and settle deeper in the heart when she sings them.

There is reverie and rapture here.

Reverie and rapture.

And, the video clip is enormously nostalgic!

 

 

Our painting today comes from Lilian Davidson who was born in Bray, County Wicklow.

Her work shows she was aware of movements in European Art and had secure painterly skills.

I am struck by the vivacity of the light and colour in her paintings which seem to gleam before the viewer.

In addition to her paintings she also wrote plays, poems and short stories under the name Ulick Burke.

The National Gallery of Ireland keeps her portrait of W B Yeats.

Image result for lilian lucy davidson images

Our Poetry reading today comes from Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin.

For almost half a century now she has been adding magical poems to the cairn of Irish poetry and the global word hoard.

In her poems language is thrillingly allusive and alive.

It is in the testing of thought and belief through charged engagement with language that Poetry is made.

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin has said that her Poems emerge out of her desire, need, to question – Is this true? Do I really believe this? Do I really feel this?

If the Poem lives the question is answered.

Often in ways that could not have been anticipated.

True Poetry is always surprising both to the Poet and the reader.

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin has written many true poems.

 

 

SÍOMHA (Brock) is, in her music, wholly Irish and wholly international.

She draws deeply on the traditions of traditional music, folk music, chanson and gypsy jazz to create an alluring synthesis.

On stage she has an energy, expertise and magnetism in her singing and guitar playing which wins and holds audiences.

We are all going to hear a lot more from SÍOMHA!

 

This post in memory of Mary O’Sullivan and Nora McElligott.

If you enjoyed this post and know anyone who is Irish or of Irish heritage (and you do!) share it with them and ask them to share it further.

Next Post on Thursday 14th March – don’t miss it!

Dolores Keane, The Evertides & Eavan Boland : Celebrating the Women of Ireland 1)

March now.

The sun shines hot and the wind blows cold.

Summer in the light and winter in the shade.

March is the month when the Immortal Jukebox, in the run up to the St Patrick’s day festivities, celebrates the enormous contribution Irish artists have made to the World’s treasury of Poetry, Song and Paintings.

This year’s posts are in celebration of the works, so often under regarded, of the Women of Ireland.

Each post will feature a song by an established singer and another by a singer or group who may not yet have gained fame outside of Ireland.

I will also be showcasing a Poetry reading and a Painting.

I hope I will be making introductions that will lead you to further exploration.

Today :

Songs by Dolores Keane and The Evertides.

Eavan Boland reading :

‘The Lost Art of Letter Writing’, ‘Quarantine’ and ‘The Emigrant Irish’.

A Painting by Mildred Anne Butler (1858-1941) : A Murder of Crows

 

My admiration for Dolores Keane knows no bounds.

In her voice you can hear Ireland speaking with power and authority.

In her voice you can hear Ireland speaking of pain, exile and loss.

In her voice you can hear Ireland speaking with faith and joy.

Listen to Dolores Keane.

Listen to Ireland.

 

 

Our painting today comes from Mildred Anne Butler who looked deep into the domestic and the animal life all around her Kilkenny home.

She painted en plein air and there is a startling freshness shining from her works.

She is well represented in galleries and latterly was commemorated on an Irish postage stamp.

Image result for mildred anne butler images

Eavan Boland is a Poet of patience and fortitude.

Throughout her career she has attended to the whispers and looked unflinchingly into the dark shadows of Irish life and culture – particularly as experienced by Irish Women.

There is a complexity and precision of language and weight of thought in her work which is the mark of a major Poet.

 

The Evertides are a trio of wonderfully talented Irish Women – Ruth McGill, Alma Kelliher and Ruth Smith.

Their instrumental and vocal blend is that of Sisters in Song.

Their three part harmonies surround, enchant and elevate our senses.

The ability to enchant and to open doors into the numinous makes The Evertides a very special group.

 

In memory of Julia O’Sullivan and Hannah Hartnett.

If you enjoyed this post and know anyone who is Irish or of Irish heritage (and you do!) share it with them and ask them to share it further.

Notes :

In addition to her role in The Evertides Ruth Smith presents one of my, ‘Must Listen’ radio programmes, ‘Simply Folk’ which airs on RTÉ Radio 1 on Sundays at 10pm.

Seek it out!

The next Post in the series will be published on Tuesday 12 March – Don’t miss it!

Christmas Alphabet : M for Maura O’ Connell & Jimmy MacCarthy

Christmas is a time to allow Mystery its proper place at the centre of our being.

There is no master chart for our lives.

That is life’s beauty and its terror.

The older I get the more I believe that the essence of intellectual and spiritual maturity is to understand that each of us is a Mystery surrounded by the Mystery.

We live catching glimpses, if we would but look, of harmonies within Mysteries.

Mystery is a Gift awaiting acceptance.

In deep valleys and high peaks and on grey suburban streets the door to Mystery waits to be opened.

Reports of the Mystery often come from the daydreamers; the madcaps, the geeks with the alchemist’s stone.

In meditation and madness and holy merriment they can hear the grass grow and the heartbeat of the squirrel.

They bring back reports from the other side of silence.

One such voyager is Jimmy MacCarthy, an Irish songwriter steeped in The Mystery.

His song, ‘Bright Blue Rose’ is an invitation to and an invocation of The Mystery.

And it is a holy thing and it is a precious time.

Forget-me-nots among the snow.

It’s always been and so it goes.

For all of you who would discover.

For all of you who seek to understand.

Strike out on your own path.

You’ll find a very special hand.

One bright blue Rose.

Two thousand years and still it grows.

Life and Death Eternally.

One bright Blue Rose.

One bright Blue Rose.

 

Now, if you want to find a singer who can invoke The Mystery, who can make a song a Holy and precious thing, you need look no further than Maura O’ Connell.

She has a voice that can with spare elegance illuminate the Forget-me-nots among the snow.

She has a voice that can with proper discretion usher us towards the bloom of one bright Blue Rose.

One bright Blue Rose.

Two thousand years and still it grows.

One bright Blue Rose.

The Series continues on 19 and 21 December – Don’t Miss One!

Ry Cooder & The Chieftains : The Coast of Malabar (A Sailor’s Reverie)

Aye, I’m here every morning.

An Seancheann. The Old Head of Kinsale.

I start out early with the Hound.

I watch the timeless waves.

Watch them come dazzling round into the rocks.

Looking down I hear the tides flowing to and fro.

To and fro.

The Sea’s a swell that’s been there since the very beginning.

And, it will keep on heaving until time stops and God clangs The Bell.

Nowadays I don’t stir my stumps beyond this Headland.

Oh, but there was a time when I had an awful yen for things and places remote.

Nothing for it but to sail for forbidden Seas and sport on barbarous Coasts.

The wild call of the running tide.

Flung spray. Blown spume. Gulls crying and the white clouds flying.

White sails straining in a wind like a whetted knife.

I followed The Leviathan.

Sailed the length and breadth of The Whale Road.

A grand gypsy life.

Hermanus.  Plettenberg.  Luderitz.

Walvis Bay.  Cape Lopez.  Baia dos Tigres.

Ponta do Ouro.  Tristan Da Cunha.  Bahia.

Tierra del Fuego.  Deseado.  Wilson’s Promontory.  Macquarie Island.

The Cocos Islands. Diego Garcia. Kiribati.

The Coast of Malabar.

The Coast of Malabar.

That’s where I met her.

Far away across the Ocean anchored under an Indian Star.

Sometimes I take a walk along the strand.

And, I scribe her name right there on the sand.

Ah Sure I know the rolling Sea will wash it away but as long as my legs hold out I’ll write it there again and again and again.

Some things you never forget though the decades pass and you grow old.

You might look at me and see a rheumy eyed Rummy.

Aye and you’d be right.

But, Tornado blasted as I am there’ll always be a part of me deep down, despite all the woes, that’s bathed in joy.

Until I reach the final harbour I’ll always have the memory of my dusky dark eyed maiden.

Shy and sweet with the wild waves at her feet.

Oh my thoughts keep ever turning to that far off distant shore.

To that dark eyed girl who loved me.

Loved me.

I hear her calling across the ocean wild and far.

From The Coast of Malabar.

In my heart I live forever on The Coast of Malabar.

On The Coast of Malabar.

The Coast of Malabar.

 

 

Ry Cooder and The Chieftains are great musical collaborators.

And, here their partnership casts an oceanic musical spell.

Together Ry, Paddy Moloney, Sean Keane, Kevin Conneff, Matt Molloy and Derek Bell set our spirits and imaginations surging far beyond our hearts harbour.

The deep sway of the recording is very rarely achieved since only imusicians of great technical resource, emotional intelligence and artistic humility can play with such transfixing simplicity.

Take a voyage with them to The Coast of Malabar.

 

This Post for my Brother Ger on his Birthday.

Three score years we have shared and supported each others dreams.

Sail on Brother. Sail on.

Notes :

There are fine versions of the song by Liam Clancy & Tommy Makem and Sean Tyrell.