Midsummer Blog 2015

Well lads I'm delighted to announce a number of new and exciting projects here in the hit factory this summer. There's a great new cover version of one of my songs by the great Christy Moore; THE BALLAD OF PATRICK MURPHY, there's a new TV Series for TG4 called NA BAILÉID, there's my OPERA, there's a signature theme for an RTE TV show and a new song being released on a compilation album about the WILD ATLANTIC WAY, and there's a number of nice gigs coming up all round the country.

PATRICK MURPHY; I've been living in Passage West for 18 years now and have written a number of songs about this beautiful place in Cork's Lower Harbour area. First I was asked by a local man Walty Murphy to write a song about the town and my song PASSAGE WEST has proved to be one of my best and most successful songs. I am delighted that it has been recorded recently by the group DANÚ; one of Ireland's greatest traditional bands, on their new album BUAN. Their singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh does a beautiful job of it. DANU are doing a lot of festivals around Ireland this year as they celebrate 20 years on the road.

Walty Murphy then asked me to write another song, about his grandfather Patrick Murphy who was shot dead by water bailiffs when out fishing in May 1911. The court case made huge news at the time and the bailiffs were acquitted. One hundred years later in 2011 we had a big celebration in the town for the Maritime Festival and we unveiled the new Patrick Murphy Park and I sang my new Ballad of Patrick Murphy for the family. Here's the link to the video of that world premiere of the new song www.youtube.com/watch?v=evxLi714iEQ

I recorded and released the song then on my 'Life In An Irish Town' album in 2013.

Well Christy Moore is without a doubt the greatest folk singer in Ireland if not in the whole world and it is such a great honor for me that he is now singing a most beautiful and tender version of this ballad. This is what he said on the radio today; 

"I sing John Spillane songs everywhere I go. John is my favourite songwriter for the past ten years and I've been blessed to record a number of his songs and I hope to record this one shortly." (The Ballad of Patrick Murphy)

How about that lads in fairness like! What a buzz! Thanks very much Christy! Happy days in the hit factory like!

The other songs of mine that Christy has recorded are

'Johnny Don't Go' - On the album This is The Day - 2001 and also on Live at Vicar Street - 2002.

'Magic Nights in the Lobby Bar' - Burning Times - 2005.

'Gortatagort' - Listen - 2009.

'Haiti'- Where I Come From - 2013. (Written by me and Christy.)

It's a great delight for me that Christy is singing my songs. It brings them to a wider audience of course but it also puts them into the great book of Irish song that Christy has been writing all his life. Besides all that it's just a sheer pleasure to hear him singing them like.

NA BAILÉID; I am very proud of all the programmes I've made for TG4 over the last few years with the brilliant Cork television company ForeFront Productions, with Tony and Joe McCarthy, Jean Crowley and all the team. We did two seasons of SPILLANE AN FÁNAÍ which saw me as a wandering minstrel around Ireland writing songs about small historic Irish towns. These led to two new collections of songs; 'Life In An Irish Town' 2013 and 'The Man Who Came In From The Dark' 2014.

So this summer we've started on a new series called Na Bailéid (The Ballads) where we explore the history and origins of some of the greatest and best loved Irish Ballads. We journey from The Cliffs of Dooneen to Dear Old Skibereen, from The Mountains of Mourne to The Rocks of Bawn, from Carrickfergus to The Curragh of Kildare etc. We will be enjoying new versions of these classic ballads by a variety of great Irish singers, and song detective Spillane will be uncovering the truth behind the songs. I will be studying these brilliant ballads very closely during the making of the series and who knows lads maybe I should record an album of them to coincide with the broadcast in January 2016?

THE OPERA. So I've had this idea for a number of years and this is the year of the composition of my Opera. It's called THE LEGEND OF THE LOUGH - FINSCÉAL AN LOCHA. It's based on a beautiful wonder tale about The Lough in Cork which was published in a book called 'Fairy Legends of the South of Ireland' by Thomas Crofton Croker in 1825. The story is written on a placard at the side of the Lough, on the South-Side of Cork, a beautiful lake full of swans and wild birds which is one mile around and has a floating island of willows.

I've always loved the Lough and loved the story and I am grateful to my old friend Giordaí for suggesting that it could be made into an Opera. 

The Opera will be in two languages, Irish and English, on two stages, the overwater stage and the underwater stage, in two worlds, this world and the otherworld, and will be performed on the waters of the Lough of Cork on Bonfire Night, June 23rd, St. John's Eve, at some date in the future. People will travel from near and far and all the people of Cork will turn out for this lovely event. This is my dream.

I've been composing music and lyrics like a lunatic for the past six months and am very close now to having the first final draft of the Opera completed. I have been up to my eyes in Irish Language, Folklore and Mythology. I am basing much of the libretto on the language of the Fiannaíocht and Rúraiocht story cycles, and researching Irish Wonder Tales and stories of the Shee. The story is about King Corc of Croaghtamore and his beautiful daughter Fíoruisce. In the courtyard of their castle they have a well of the most wonderful water. The King grows resentful of the gangs of poor people tramping through his Dún to the well and builds a wall around the well. Eventually he has a golden cup made and only his daughter Fíoruisce is allowed to draw water from the well in the golden chalice. Eventually the water jumps out of the well and overflows and the Lough is formed. At the bottom of the Lough they still go about their lives under an enchantment, in the Otherworld, Tír na nÓg, the Land of Eternal Youth. If anyone recovers the golden cup and brings it to the surface the waters of the Lough will disappear and life will go on as before. The Opera will be a fantasia of music, lightened laughter, water and golden wonder.

WILD ATLANTIC WAY. I was very pleased to get the call from RTE television to compose the signature tune for an upcoming 3 Part TV series called CREEDON"S WILD ATLANTIC WAY. Good old John Creedon is leaving his excellent DJ radio turntable and going on a roadtrip from Kinsale to Donegal following the Wild Atlantic Way. Like a lot of Irish musicians I love John Creedon, "the last DJ who plays what he wants to play". John is a wonderful supporter of all kinds of music and is especially supportive of new talent. So anyway I composed a song, recorded it, and I got the gig. Then it turned out that Colm Ó Síocháin, the man who put together A STÓR  MO CHROÍ (a collective of Irish Traditional artists of which I am part) is releasing a compilation album of songs about the Wild Atlantic Way, and Colm has asked me to include my song on this album. The album will include Altan, Kila, Dervish, The High Kings, Lumiere, Seán Keane, Danú and many more great Irish Folk and Trad artists. The Wild Atlantic Way is proving to be a great success and this album will surely be the soundtrack for many a pilgrim driving along the way. This album will be released in the next few weeks.

GIGS. So I've a nice gang of gigs coming up, mostly solo gigs, but some with the band; Flaithrí Ó Rathaille on electric guitar, Martin Leahy on drums, sometimes Nigel Grufferty on fiddle and Brian Morrissey on banjo, bodhrán, whistles. The list of gigs is on my website www.johnspillane.ie  and on the EVENTS section of my Facebook page, like. There's gigs in London, Galway etc and the fist Thursday of every month in de Barras of Clonakilty in West Cork.

Thanks very much everyone, have a great summer, John.

Published on 27th March 2016

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