Concert Programme
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1.	Thugamar Féin an Samhradh Linn - Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin
2.	Mary McRoe - Paddy Berry
3.	Westlin Winds - Gerry Cullen 
4.	The Magpies Nest - Alanna O’ Kelly
5.	Tacumshane Lake Tragedy - Phil Berry
6.	Annon ‘s Anall, A Fairy Swing Song - Mary O’ Brien
7.	The Templetown Goose - John O’ Byrne 

8.	Blue Cuckoo - Gerry Cullen
9.	My Singing Bird - Alanna O’ Kelly
10. An Bonnán Buí - Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin
11. Bunclody - Phil Berry
12. Ailiú Éanaí - Mary O’ Brien
13. Jim Keyes’s Gander - John O’ Byrne
14. Skittin’ the Cuckoo - Paddy Berry


Concert Notes:
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Thugamar Féin an Samhradh Linn - Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin
This song is associated with the fertility celebrations of May and early summer and was once very popular in the Co Louth, Armagh and Monaghan region of Oriel where many versions were collected. It was reputedly sung on May eve as the young men and women carried garlanded branches - signifying summer - from house to house. It is one of the oldest song types in the Irish song tradition with references going back to the 17th century. It is likely that the song was danced as well. The lyrics include references to the lark singing and swooping in the skies, the cuckoo and birds singing with pleasure and the heron nesting in the branches of the trees. There are at least four different airs to this summer song. The most popular air was collected by Edward Bunting in the 18th century and recorded by Sean Ó Riada.   

Mary McRoe – Paddy Berry
I wrote this song some years ago which is one of a trilogy of songs about women I met at the all-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil over the years. The other two are entitled Still She Wouldn’t Have Me, a suitably long funny song and Patricia, a short inspiring search engine.
‘The women I mention are all very real
But their names and station I’ll never reveal
But given an offer I couldn’t dismiss
Like money, or drink, I’d consider the list’

The bird reference in Mary McRoe is in the first verse:
‘Where the song of the thrush and the linnet
Sing cheerily from every hedgerow
Combining with the music of nature
And engaging sweet Mary McRoe’

Westlin Winds - Gerry Cullen 
A Robbie Burns song I got from the singing of Len Graham, Mullaghbane, Co Armagh - a version he collected in the North of Ireland. As Len says; ‘a song about Autumn, guns and girls’. Robbie Burns used the Irish air 'Rattling Guns' for this song and included the names of at least nine birds, from pheasants and moorcocks to linnets and thrushes. The only unfamiliar name is the cushat which is a wood pigeon! ‘The savage and the tender' mentioned in the song refers to the beauty of these birds in their habitat and their subsequent annihilation at the hands of the hunters - 'the fluttering gory pinion'. The song is a terrific marriage of melody and imagery.

The Magpies Nest – Alanna O’ Kelly
This song puts a smile on my face every time I sing it. A beauty of a song that Aileen Lambert and Mick Fortune thought I should hear. They sent me two versions in the singing of Annie Jane Kelly and Alaisdair Roberts. When I first sang it Larry Joy (singer/composer) suggested it needed another verse and combined some elements from both these versions to create a new one - my thanks. 

Tacumshane Lake Tragedy - Phil Berry
I wrote this song the week after the tragic events on Tacumshane Lake, South Wexford on 7th January 1982, in which two brothers (Walshes) and their sons lost their lives in a boating accident. It is a very heart-rending and sad song. The birds in the song (widgeon, swan, duck, teal, goose, drake, brent goose and waterhen) are game birds which the Walsh brothers hunted regularly. 

Annon ‘s Anall, A Fairy Swing Song - Mary O’ Brien
The words of this song are set to music in a recent book about the life of P.J. McCall by Wexford musician and historian, Liam Gaul. McCall (1861-1919), although a Dublin man, had Wexford connections and spent many holidays in the county. Well known as the composer of Boolavogue, Kelly the Boy from Killann, Haste to the Wedding, for this song he recommended an air called Hither and Thither (Anonn ‘s Anall), which can be found in a 1914 collection of Irish airs. An Irish language lullaby of the same name has been recorded by singer and harpist Mary O’Hara. In McCall’s song the child or fairy is being rocked or swung ‘anonn ‘s anall’,  to and fro. The words tell of all the strange images seen in a dream; a blue cuckoo, a wizard pony, the King O’ Norraway’s Daughter. In the last verse the child begins to wake up and all the images are lost in dreamland. 

The Templetown Goose - John O’ Byrne 
Jack McCutcheon (1925-1991) from Ballyowen in South Wexford was a prolific chronicler of people, places and events, local, national and international. The Templetown Goose was his entry to a ballad writing competition at Éigse P.J. McCall in Rathangan, Co. Wexford in 1983 and was a winner. To quote Jack, ‘This song is pure imagination having no bearing whatsoever on any person or happening in the district’ and to quote Paddy Berry; ‘What an imagination!’

Blue Cuckoo - Gerry Cullen 
This love song was being sung in Drogheda in the mid 1800's. The words and air I took from Colm O’ Lochlainn's More Irish Street Ballads under the title, The New Irish Girl. I imagine the song is quite old as it contains itinerant verses found in other songs such as I wish my love was a red red rose. I was acquainted with the Drogheda reference and was delighted to find it in O’ Lochlainn's book as I have never heard it sung! The singer has lost his girl whom he has dearly loved and he wishes he was a linnet or a blue cuckoo so he could sing and sing for her. Maybe that would bring her back!	

My Singing Bird – Alanna O’ Kelly
This song brings me back to my household and my childhood and the wonderful voice of a Wexford woman, Lilly Byrne, preparing for a fleadh. The air has always stayed with me. I listened to a number of versions in the Irish Traditional Music Archive. The voice and pace of  Sinead O’ Connor‘s version I find very inspiring.

An Bonnán Buí - Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin
This is one of the best known songs in the Irish language song tradition. It was written over two hundred years ago by Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna from the border area of Co Cavan but who is much associated with the Oriel region and is reputedly buried in Co Monaghan. The poet comes across a dead bittern that had died of thirst trying to break the ice on a frozen lake to sup the water. He identified with the bird’s plight and the song is a rare mixture of humour and pathos. The song travelled widely in the oral tradition as far as Donegal and Connemara. The restored air from Oriel was collected around 1900. The song has been translated in song form by Seamus Heaney, Thomas Kinsella, James Stephens, Thomas McDonagh and Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin.

The Streams of Bunclody - Phil Berry
This song which was very popular in the 1960s, and a favourite of Luke Kelly, is one of the few Wexford emigration songs. While the two birds referenced in the song (the lark and cuckoo) are well known for their distinctive sounds, very few people recognise these birds to see when compared to  the better known blackbird, thrush and robin.

Ailiú Éanaí – Mary O’ Brien
This song is from the Irish language tradition and has often been taught to children. The éanaí of the title may or may not refer to birds. It may possibly be a nonsense word used repeatedly in the song’s chorus. It may be, therefore, a phantom bird song! It tells the story of a girl who goes out to the mountain glen early in the morning dew, herding her cow. She meets a jolly tailor busy sewing a coat of tweed, takes a fancy to him and decides she will marry him. It may originally have been a lullaby, a dandling or work song of some kind.  
			
Jim Keyes’s Gander - John O’ Byrne
This song by Jim Smith, a noted singer and fiddle player, and Kevin Whitty, a whistle player, composer and songsmith, is considered locally to be a reply to, or at least influenced by, Jack McCutcheon’s Templetown Goose. Unlike The Goose this song concerns real people and a one eyed gander. Both songs come from the same parish of Clongeen, Co. Wexford.

Skittin’ the Cuckoo – Paddy Berry
This is a nonsense song I wrote for this project entitled Skittin’ the Cuckoo. It turns upside down a national school jingle heard in the late 1940s which celebrates the cuckoo.
‘How sweet the pleasures of the spring
When we hear the cuckoo sing
Cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo
Hear the cuckoo sing’



About the Singers:
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John O’ Byrne
John O’Byrne developed an interest in traditional singing through involvement in Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann during the eighties and in particular a trip to the Fleadh Cheoil in Listowel in 1988. He is a founder member along with Phil Berry of Wexford Traditional Singers Club which first met in The Thomas Moore, Wexford in January 1991. He has been an organiser of Wexford Traditional Singers Weekend in Rosslare since its inception in February 1992. As part of the Wexford Song Project 2013/14 he researched the work of local songsmith the late Jack McCutcheon. He particularly likes comic songs, plays whistles with Wexford Folk Orchestra and enjoys set dancing.

Mary O’ Brien
Mary O’Brien developed an interest in traditional song on visits to the western Gaeltachts where she first heard singing in the sean nós style. She began to attend the monthly gatherings of Wexford Traditional Singers Club when it was first formed in 1991 in the Thomas Moore Tavern in Wexford town. Recently she was a participant in the Wexford Song Project which focused on researching and preserving the song tradition of County Wexford. Mary also enjoys playing guitar and singing with Wexford Folk Orchestra, plays tin whistle and is a latecomer to  the flute. 

Paddy Berry
Paddy was born in the Barony of Forth near Rosslare, Co. Wexford, sometime in the last century. He is a renowned singer and song collector and lifelong member of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, and a member of the Wexford singing circle since its inception. He won the all-Ireland senior ballad competition in 1970 and again in 1976, as well as becoming the senior all-Ireland whistling champion in 1975. Paddy has appeared on RTE 1 television traditional music programmes from 1963 to recent times.

Paddy has published two collections of ballads entitled Wexford Ballads (1982) and More Wexford Ballads (1984), and has more recently published a book of short stories entitled No doubt about it (2014). He has also recorded two albums of traditional ballads; Sing us a Song Paddy (2000), Sing again Paddy  (2001) and also features on the album The Cuckoos Note, an album by Whisht a group of traditional singers from Wexford. Paddy is currently researching the background stories of old Wexford ballads. 

Gerry Cullen
Gerry was born in Drogheda, and has been singing and collecting local songs for many years. He formed The Voice Squad with Phil Callery and Fran Mc Phail in 1983 and has released three CD's. Gerry has recorded with Elvis Costello, Sinead O’ Connor, The Chieftans and other renowned artists. He has released one solo CD The Blue Cuckoo and one CD of local songs with Donal Maguire and Sean Corcoran,  Louthmouths From Drogheda.

Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin
Dr. Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin from Co. Louth has many aspects to her singing career as traditional singer, song writer, song restorer and researcher. She has recorded two albums of traditional song for children, A Stór is a Stóirín and Let the fairies in and two albums of Ulster traditional song, An Dara Craiceann and An Dealg Óir. Her own compositions are Áilleacht and Songs of the Scribe  - a collaboration on early Irish lyrics with Séamus Heaney and Ciaran Carson.  A recipient of many awards, including Gradam Sean Nós Cois Life, she was the first traditional singer in Queens University Belfast 2005-2013. Her research publication, A Hidden Ulster – people, songs and traditions of Oriel (2003) has been critically acclaimed. Her own compositions in the traditional style have been recorded by Dolores Keane, Danú, The Black Family, Eithne Ní Uallacháin, Helen Davies, Skylark, Boys of the Lough and Michael Black. 

Phil Berry 
Phil Berry comes from South Wexford and has been singing traditionally since the late sixties. This was a natural progression from listening to his brother Paddy sing the ‘old’ songs. He attended and competed in Fleadhanna all round the country and won the All Ireland Senior Singing in 1989 at the Sligo Fleadh Ceoil. His favourite songs are Wexford songs about the 1798 rebellion, songs of the sea and sports songs. He released a CD of traditional songs, also featuring his son Ronan, called A Father and Son.
Video Documentation of Concert
Recorded and Produced by Michael Fortune and Aileen Lambert

All images/design by Michael Fortune and Aileen Lambert unless otherwise stated.

The Leinster Concert

National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin.

Wednesday 6th of May 2015

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John O’ Byrne

John O’Byrne developed an interest in traditional singing through involvement in Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann during the eighties and in particular a trip to the Fleadh Cheoil in Listowel in 1988. He is a founder member along with Phil Berry of Wexford Traditional Singers Club which first met in The Thomas Moore, Wexford in January 1991. He has been an organiser of Wexford Traditional Singers Weekend in Rosslare since its inception in February 1992. As part of the Wexford Song Project 2013/14 he researched the work of local songsmith the late Jack McCutcheon. He particularly likes comic songs, plays whistles with Wexford Folk Orchestra and enjoys set dancing.


Mary O’ Brien

Mary O’Brien developed an interest in traditional song on visits to the western Gaeltachts where she first heard singing in the sean nós style. She began to attend the monthly gatherings of Wexford Traditional Singers Club when it was first formed in 1991 in the Thomas Moore Tavern in Wexford town. Recently she was a participant in the Wexford Song Project which focused on researching and preserving the song tradition of County Wexford. Mary also enjoys playing guitar and singing with Wexford Folk Orchestra, plays tin whistle and is a latecomer to  the flute.

Paddy Berry

Paddy was born in the Barony of Forth near Rosslare, Co. Wexford, sometime in the last century. He is a renowned singer and song collector and lifelong member of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, and a member of the Wexford singing circle since its inception. He won the all-Ireland senior ballad competition in 1970 and again in 1976, as well as becoming the senior all-Ireland whistling champion in 1975. Paddy has appeared on RTE 1 television traditional music programmes from 1963 to recent times.

Paddy has published two collections of ballads entitled Wexford Ballads (1982) and More Wexford Ballads (1984), and has more recently published a book of short stories entitled No doubt about it (2014). He has also recorded two albums of traditional ballads; Sing us a Song Paddy (2000), Sing again Paddy  (2001) and also features on the album The Cuckoos Note, an album by Whisht a group of traditional singers from Wexford. Paddy is currently researching the background stories of old Wexford ballads.


Gerry Cullen

Gerry was born in Drogheda, and has been singing and collecting local songs for many years. He formed The Voice Squad with Phil Callery and Fran Mc Phail in 1983 and has released three CD's. Gerry has recorded with Elvis Costello, Sinead O’ Connor, The Chieftans and other renowned artists. He has released one solo CD The Blue Cuckoo and one CD of local songs with Donal Maguire and Sean Corcoran,  Louthmouths From Drogheda.

Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin

Dr. Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin from Co. Louth has many aspects to her singing career as traditional singer, song writer, song restorer and researcher. She has recorded two albums of traditional song for children, A Stór is a Stóirín and Let the fairies in and two albums of Ulster traditional song, An Dara Craiceann and An Dealg Óir. Her own compositions are Áilleacht and Songs of the Scribe  - a collaboration on early Irish lyrics with Séamus Heaney and Ciaran Carson.  A recipient of many awards, including Gradam Sean Nós Cois Life, she was the first traditional singer in Queens University Belfast 2005-2013. Her research publication, A Hidden Ulster – people, songs and traditions of Oriel (2003) has been critically acclaimed. Her own compositions in the traditional style have been recorded by Dolores Keane, Danú, The Black Family, Eithne Ní Uallacháin, Helen Davies, Skylark, Boys of the Lough and Michael Black.


Phil Berry

Phil Berry comes from South Wexford and has been singing traditionally since the late sixties. This was a natural progression from listening to his brother Paddy sing the ‘old’ songs. He attended and competed in Fleadhanna all round the country and won the All Ireland Senior Singing in 1989 at the Sligo Fleadh Ceoil. His favourite songs are Wexford songs about the 1798 rebellion, songs of the sea and sports songs. He released a CD of traditional songs, also featuring his son Ronan, called A Father and Son.