Hey lads it's been a great honour for me to celebrate the 1916 centenary by taking part in the Irish Songs We Learned At School project around County Laois. Big thanks to Music Generation Laois, and Laois 2016 for inviting me to share my collection of these lovely Irish language songs with hundreds of schoolchildren in eight primary schools around Laois. I've been travelling around to schools in Errill, Trumera, Rath, The Paddock, Barnashrone, Ballaghmore, Portarlington and The Rock, along with Lorna McLaughlin of the Henry Girls, and teaching the kids songs like 'Séamuisín', 'Beidh Aonach Amárach', 'Óró Sé Do Bheatha Abhaile' and many more. We are also covering material like 'Grace', 'The Foggy Dew', 'Amhrán na bhFiann', 'Mise Éire' and 'Róisín Dubh'. The kids really love these songs and we have developed quite a few actions or 'geaitsí' to go with many of them, like the animal songs 'An Poc ar Buile' and 'An Maidrín Rua' and the rowing songs 'Báidin Fheilimí' and 'Trasna na dTonnta'.

The project will finish on Thursday November 24th with a great concert at 11am in the Heritage Hotel in Portlaoise.

I've been learning a lot about Laois and have had some lovely moments there in the last few months. It has been very moving to hear the children of the small National School in Errill singing 'Oh Grace just hold me in your arms..." that lovely song written about Joseph Mary Plunkett's marriage to Grace Gifford the night before his execution in 1916. Or the children of Slí Dála Gaelscoil playing the 'March of the Kings of Laois'. Or the children of Rath singing the 'Foggy Dew'. Of course they all love the 'Rathlin Bog' and this is a big hit in every school. During this project I've been developing my storytelling skills in order to weave these songs together, taking as my starting point a few lines passed on by Séamus Ennis - "Long ago it was, when houses were built out of bars of butter, and roofed with pancakes, when turkeys chewed tobacco and little birds made their nests in old men's beards...."

     I have been moved to compose a new song in honour of the occasion. It's a song for Laois one hundred years after the 1916 rising. It's called 'One Hundred Snow White Horses'. I am still composing and re-composing this song and it won't be really finished for quite a while, but here below is a working version. Buíochas mór do Rosa Flannery, Lorna McLaughlin, na múinteoirí agus na leanaí, Music Generation Laois, Laois 2016 agus muintir Laoise ar fad.   


ONE HUNDRED SNOW WHITE HORSES 

One hundred stars are burning bright above the old Slieve Bloom tonight,

One hundred snow white horses in the March of the Kings of Laois,

One hundred years have come and gone, one hundred journeys round the sun, 

One hundred snow white horses in the March of the Kings of Laois,

One hundred torches blazing in the March of the Kings of Laois,


When Owny McRory Óg O' Moore fell with sword in hand,

A hungry pack of Saxon wolves came howling through the land,

The seven tribes of Laoise were scattered in the wind,

But the settlers they would not find peace,

While one O' Moore remained in Laois,


A SHOT RANG OUT ON AN EASTER NIGHT,

A WHIPCRACK VOLLEY SPLIT THE LIGHT,

ARISE! ARISE! CRIES PÁDRAIG PEARSE,

SO THAT IRELAND MIGHT BE FREE!


One hundred stars are burning bright above the old Slieve Bloom tonight,

One hundred snow white horses in the March of the Kings of Laois,

One hundred years have come and gone, one hundred journeys round the sun, 

One hundred snow white horses in the March of the Kings of Laois,

One hundred golden bridles in the March of the Kings of Laois,

One hundred torches burning in the March of the Kings of Laois,

One hundred golden harpers in the March of the Kings of Laois,

Fifty drummers blazing, fifty golden trumpets,

Three times seven pipers in the March of the Kings of Laois,

One hundred golden warriors, one hundred golden chariots,

Three times fifty maidens in the March of the Kings of Laois.


Published on 20th November 2016


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