Fields of Athenry (20.05.02)
It might surprise you to know that this song was written in the late 20th century, not any earlier! The composer, Dublin-born Pete St. John worked all over the world before returning to Dublin in the 1970s. He is also the writer of another terrific song, the Rare auld times. You can see the full lyrics and hear the songs in Pete's elegant site.
The Red Flag and the Irish connection (04.02.02)
One of the most famous socialist songs in the UK is the Red Flag, sung to the tune of 'Tannenbaum' or 'O Christmas Tree'. Did you know it was written by an Irish journalist working in the south of England called James O'Connell? You can see the text and hear the music on this website.
The rush hour usually concludes at about 1930 (7.30pm), and it is possible to park your car on a meter without charge. In certain areas of Dublin, unofficial parking attendants operate, known colloquially as 'lock-hard men' (their catchphrase when directing your saloon into a space more suitable for a Fiat Uno or a Mini). It is worth telling them that you will pay them a pound on your return. It is recommended that you use one of the city's Multi-Storey car parks; directions may be found on the approaches to the city. There are also indications of available spaces. Charges range from 3-4 Euro per evening, usually after 1900.
The tin whistle is still one of the most popular instruments in Ireland; it is still taught to many school children and is relatively inexpensive and fun to play. Ireland also has bagpipes, known as Uilleann pipes, made popular in recent times by such soundtracks as Riverdance.
Bunting - the missing link (25.03.02)
Many regard Bunting as the saviour of Irish traditional music. His collections of music from all over Ireland provide an invalueable resource from an era before modern recording equipment. You can read an excellent article about him in the Irish Times.
Danny Boy - the facts!
The words of this famous Irish song were not actually written by an Irish person, but by an Englishman! The tune is Irish though, apparently hummed to the famous Irish folk tune collector, George Petrie, by a woman from Derry/Londonderry who had heard it played in the area.
Handel's Messiah and Dublin
The world's best piece of choral music is arguably the "Halleluia chorus" from Handel's oratorio Messiah. It was first performed in Dublin in 1742 (directions to location may be found in the Dublin by foot section). It was an indication of Dublin's fame and fortune during the eighteenth century that Handel decided to accept the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland's invitation to do a charity concert. Handel restored his reputation and finances as a result of the Messiah success and Dublin was briefly placed on the classical music map (Irish 'classical' composers are few and far between). It therefore shocks me that there has been no commemorative plaque in Fishamble Street for a number of years now. Watch here for details of an online petition about this plaque.