Carrickfergus - performed by Liam Ó Maonlaí.

The Mountains of Mourne - Seán Tyrrell. 

Airdí Cuan - Ciara McCrickard accompanied by Stephen Rooney on guitar. 

Ah lads, still reeling from last week's visit to Sligo and Donegal, and blown away by the fact that I got to play music with a great hero of mine, Moya Brennan, and now this song detective heads north to County Antrim and to County Down on the trail of three more great Irish ballads. Imagine Percy French sitting on an old park bench in Skerries in County Dublin and painting the fabulous Mourne Mountains, na Beanna Boirche, in the distance; "the place where the dark Mournes sweep down to the sea" and getting the idea for his song. What a song! Thanks to Seán Tyrrell, the great Galway chanter and raconteur for his inimitable telling of this lovely classic. What fun to check out the footage of Don MacLean's version from the Siamsa Cois Laoi festival in 1981. 

Airdí Cuan is one of my favourite songs of all time, and it makes me sad to think of Éamonn Ó Faogáin, who sang this song so beautifully, and who passed away earlier this year. Ciara McCrickard does a brilliant, lofty, clear and resounding version of this most Gaelic of airs. Ard, uasal agus brónach. "Sé mo chroí atá trom agus brónach, - It is my heart that is heavy and is sorrowful" 

And then to Carrickfergus! Liam Ó Maonlaí tells the story of his family wearing out the car batterry on their holiers listening to 'Ó Riada sa Gaiety' and the great Seán Ó Sé tells us his belief that it is not an Antrim song really but a Kerry song. The song detective trail leads us past Dominic Behan, Peter O' Toole, Richard Harris and to an older song called 'The Young Sick Lover'. Liam Ó Maonlaí finishes this episode with a killer version of 'Carrickfergus - Do Bhí Bean Uasal'. Enjoy, everybody! Bainigí taitneamh! Song Detective Spillane, over and out - Amach is amach! Buíochas mór do Forefront Productions agus do TG4.

Published on 20th October 2016

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