#TG4 #SúilEile #MickFlannery #TommyFleming


SHANAGOLDEN – Performed by Mick Flannery and Yvonne Daly.

ÉAMON AN CHNOIC – Performed by Deirdre Scanlan.

THE CLIFFS OF DOONEEN – Performed by Tommy Fleming with John Spillane on guitar.

Well lads, what a lovely journey is this, following the Irish songlines, wandering through the Irish dreamland, from song to song, as I leave the stunningly beautiful Cahersiveen behind and ‘The Boys of Barr na Sráide’ ringing in my head and in my heart and I follow on into North Kerry and the village of Finuge, homeplace of Sean McCarthy, the gifted bard who wrote that epic ballad we call ‘Shanagolden’. What a great story; the young Sean stopping off on a journey to Limerick to pick potatoes for a farmer in Shanagolden, and being told the story behind a photograph on that farmer’s mantelpiece, of a young man in the family who was shot dead by the Black and Tans in the Irish War of Independance, Cogadh na Saoirse. To stand in the field where that man was shot has changed my experience of the song forever. And hey lads you’d wanna hear Mick Flannery and his aunt Yvonne Daly singing Shanagolden for us in this program; it’s absolutely beautiful, gentle, lovely, and deeply moving. And hey what a privilege for me to visit Seamus Begley in Baile na bPoc and hear him talk about Sean McCarthy, and how Sean got the melody of Shanagolden from Donny Osmond and the Osmond family, and he watching the television in a skyscraper in New York City, many miles from Finuge. 

Yes this is lovely work, being a song detective and then on down to the mouth of the Shannon and to visit the actual Cliffs of Dooneen, on the back of a tractor like, with a lovely man, inspired poet and local keeper of the flame of folklore and history, Gabriel FitzMaurice. I enjoyed having an old jam on this famous number with Tommy Fleming. I think we clicked together nicely and he was able to fly along nicely above my old Spanish guitar. How lovely to sit with Peggy Sweeney and the local North Kerry crowd and sing the Cliffs and Sean McCarthy songs and a load of big warm ballads. The Cliffs of Dooneen will always have a special place in the Irish canon since Christy Moore sang it into the hearts of the people away back in the early 70s.

Our third song this week will be Éamon an Chnoic, a lovely version sung by Deirdre Scanlan sitting on the stairs of Jim O’ The Mills pub near Upperchurch in Tipperary. What a brilliant piece of folklore lads, the outlaw Éamon Ó Riain and his adventures, his betrayal, murder, be-heading, and burial. We visited his grave. Upon it’s excavation in the 1960s there was found only a skull. The legend was proven to be true. Thanks to Billy Clancy for the history and the folklore; “Tomás Bán ó Faill an Chloig a bhain an ceann de Éamon an Chnoic’. 

Thanks to all the great singers, historians and folklorists, buíochas mór do TG4 agus do Forefront Productions. Hope yee enjoy the show half as much as we enjoyed making it! Song detective Spillane, over and out!

Published on 8th September 2016

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