First in the new series begins on TG4 on Sunday September 4th 2016 at 10pm.


Clár 1 

Mo Ghile Mear - Iarla Ó Lionáird with by John Spillane on guitar.

Skibbereen - Don Stiffe accompanied by Kathleen Boyle on keyboard.

The Boys of Barr na Sráide - Róisín Ryan accompanied by John Spillane on guitar.


Here we go lads, walkabout into the Irish dreamtime to follow the songlines, the trail of these ancient Irish ballads which are the pride of our nation. But how ancient are they? Who wrote these great classic songs? In program one I set out from my home place in Cork and travel west to 'Dear Old Skibbereen'.

Harrowing lads, harrowing to sit in the old famine graveyard in Skibb with local historian Eugene Daly and to talk about the many thosands of men, women and children buried in unmarked graves under that green field. There were many other parts of Ireland that suffered from hunger, death and disease as much as Skibbereen at that time, but Skibbereen got more attention because of the journalists and illustrators from England who visited there. The song 'Skibbereen' appeared about 20 years after the famine in a Boston Massachusetts publication, written apparently by a Patrick Carpenter from Skibbereen. Our dedicated team of song detectives can find no evidence of his actual existance, but it is interesting to note that many of these incendiary, revolutionary songs were written under pen names as the song 'Skibbereen' is surely a call for rebellion, was Michael Collin's favourite song and ends with the famous cry 'Revenge for Skibbereen!' 

Isn't this the Irish version of 'Remember the Alamo!" 

After Skibbereen I travel across the County Bounds into South Kerry to visit Cahersiveen and the 'Boys of Barr na Sráide', and then on up to North Cork and the birthplace of Seán Clarach Mac Dónaill, composer of that great Gaelic anthem 'Mo Ghile Mear'. 


To discover the stories of these and other great songs you will have to tune into TG4 at 10pm this Sunday night 4th September 2016!



Song detective Spillane, over and out!

The series will be available to view worldwide on the TG4 player for a 35 day catch up period


Published on 31st August 2016


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