Delighted to announce that my two albums of Irish songs are once again on general release in a double album package and have dived straight into the Irish Album Charts at number 18. Hurray! Hurray! Top Twenty lads, here we go! The first 'Irish Songs We Learned At School' album was released in 2008 and was the biggest selling album by an Irish artist in that year. It featured well loved Irish language songs like 'Óró Sé Do Bheatha Abhaile', 'Báidín Fheilimí', 'An Poc Ar Buile', 'Trasna Na dTonnta' and many more. The second volume was released in 2009. Due to the sad crash of the economy and the sad demise of EMI records these albums have been out of print for the last 4 or 5 years, but due to a general demand, have now been re-issued by Universal Records Ireland.
The memories are flooding back lads. The album was recorded by my friend Tony O' Flaherty in Sonas Recording Studio in Killarney, and we recorded two big gangs of kids singing along in Gaelcholáiste Choilm, Baile an Chollaigh, Contae Chorcaí. Catherine Frost was the wonderfully positive and helpful teacher there. It was a great honour for me to be joined on the 'Poc ar Buile' by Seán Ó Sé, the 'Pocar' himself, who starred on the original recording in 1962, and by Peadar Ó Riada, whose father Seán also featured on that famous record. For good measure we invited Mel Mercier along to play bodhrán, whose father Peadar Mercier played on the original record. On volume two Christy Moore came down and did a duet with me on 'Cúnla' and Seán Ó Sé returned for a duet on 'Carrickfergus/Do Bhí Bean Uasal'. Yes lads I had the big guns firing.
I never thought the album would take off the way it did, or that it would be so well received both by Gaeltacht people and by city people, by old people remembering their childhood and by small Irish kids in the primary and Gaelscoileanna, whose childhood was only starting. I have enjoyed sharing these songs with many Irish children at many great sessions of singing around the country, and have loved every minute of it. The kids love these songs! These are big, important, traditional songs and it's an honour for me to pass them on. Although writing new songs is my main gig like, I can only hope that I will write a song some day that will have even half the life of these classic Irish songs!
Go raibh míle maith agaibh a cháirde! John Spillane, Passage West, November 2011.
Published on 16th November 2016