Bright Blue Rose

Author: Jimmy MacCarthy
I skimmed across black water, without once submerging
Onto the banks of an urban morning
That hungers the first light, much much more
Than mountains ever do.

And she like a ghost beside me goes down with the ease of a dolphin
D Em A
And emerges unlearned, unshamed , unharmed.
For she is the perfect creature, natural in every feature
And I am the geek with the alchemists stone.

Em A D Em A
For all of you who must discover , for all who seek to
Em A D C G
For having left the path of others, you find a very special

And it is a holy thing, and it is a precious time
And it is the only way
Forget-me-nots among the snow, it’s always been and so it goes
To ponder his death and his life eternally

Em A D Em A
For all of you who must discover for all who seek to
Em A D C G For having left the path of others, you find a very special

And it is a holy thing, and it is a precious time
And it is the only way
Forget-me-nots among the snow, it’s always been and so it goes
To ponder his death and his life eternally

One bright blue rose outlives all those
Two thousand years and still it goes
To ponder his death and his life eternally

More Info
This Jimmy Mack classic is about whatever its about – I say this here only because I am so often asked the question. I have no idea nor do I wish to know what it is about for the author. My own interpretation is too valuable to me to have the song drawn away from my perception. Singing this song is nearly always special, nearly always a spiritual experience, especially on those nights when the room goes still and the listeners join in quietly, each of us getting in touch with our own stories and emotions.He truly is a master of song, a maker of beauty – he has been given the gift.

Boys Of Barr Na Sráide

Author: Sigerson Clifford

*Dreólín is the Irish Gaelic word for wren.

Ivy Ruler

Oh, the town, it climbs the mountains and looks upon the sea
At sleeping time or waking time, it’s there I’d like to be.
To walk again those kindly streets, the place where life began,
With the Boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

With cudgels stout they roamed about to hunt for the dreólín*
We searched for birds in every furze from Litir to Dooneen.
We danced for joy beneath the sky, life held no print nor plan
When the Boys of Barr na Sráide went hunting for the wren.

And when the hills were bleedin’ and the rifles were aflame
To the rebel homes of Kerry the Saxon strangers came,
But the men who dared the Auxies and fought the Black-and-Tan
Were the Boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

But now they toil in foreign soil where they have made their way
Deep in the heart of London or over on Broadway,
And I am left to sing their deeds and praise them while I can
Those Boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

And here’s a health to them tonight wherever they may be.
By the groves of Carham river or the slope of Bean ‘a Tí
John Daly and Batt Andy and the Sheehans, Con and Dan,
And the Boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

When the wheel of life runs out and peace come over me
Just take me back to that old town between the hills and sea.
I’ll take my rest in those green fields, the place where life began,,
With those Boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

More Info
I was enthralled when I heard Michael Hipkiss sing this in The Skillet Pot,Birmingham in 1968.I was living on the road and betimes,when well nurtured with ale,I could engage in maudlin meanderings about the pain of exile.I subsequently recorded the song ib 1977’s Live in Dublin album. ( recorded with Donal Lunny, Jimmy Faulkner by Nicky Ryan)

Boning Halls

Author: Christy Moore

Boning halls, we’re talking boning halls,
Boning halls, talking ’bout boning halls,

Rich cowmen ride around the boning hall
Weighing up every chop that comes across the trimming board
Like kings around the cattle mart, smooth and razor sharp
Scrawny auld scrag-end tenderised by stampin’ in the

Boning halls,
Boning halls.
Where the carcass is stripped down to the bone,
F G Am
All the flesh gets ripped off a country.

Hey-eeeheeee, weehey heey oooooo (or something like this)

Bone meal, Angel Dust,
T-bone steak, hormones and nitrogen
And sweet gravy
When the beef is on the block
The knife is on the stone
We’ve just been told the bung
Was underneath the counter of the

Boning hall,
Boning hall.
Where the carcass is stripped down to the bone,
All the flesh gets ripped off a country.

When the beef is over,
We’ll be back in order
Our cleavers well sharpened
We’ll be ready for the slaughter in the

Boning hall,
Boning hall.
Where the carcass is stripped down to the bone,
All the flesh gets ripped off a country.

Boning halls, we’re talking boning halls,
Boning halls, talking ’bout boning halls.


Bogey’s Bonny Belle

Trad / Arr: Christy Moore

As I went by Huntleigh town,
One evening for to see,
I met with Bogey O’ Cairnee,
And with him I did agree.

To care for his two best horses,
Or cart or harrow or plough,
Or anything about farm work,
That I very well should know.

Old Bogey had a daughter,
Her name was Isobel,
She’s the lily of the valley,
And the primrose of the dell.

And when she went out walking,
She took me for her guide,
Down by the Burn O’Cairnee,
To watch the small fish glide.

And when three months was past and gone,
This girl she lost her bloom.
The red fell from her rosy cheeks,
And her eyes began to swoon.

And when nine months were past and gone,
She bore to me a son.
And I was straight sent for,
To see what could be done.

I said that I would marry her,
But that it would nae do.
You’re no a match for the bonny wee girl,
And she’s no match for you.

Now she’s married to a tinker lad,
That comes from Huntleigh town.
He sells pots and pans and paraffin lamps,
And scours the country round.

Maybe she’s had a better match,
Old Bogey can nae tell.
So fair well ye lads o Huntleigh town,
And to Bogey’s bonnie belle.

More Info
I played in Cockermouth,Cumbria in 1968. The club was run by Muriel Graves who sang beautifully.She taught me this song and I subsequently heard versions from Jimmy McBeath, Davy Stewart,Jimmy Hutchinson and Owen Hand.

Bless This Guitar

Author: Peter Cadle

I’ve taken this road and I’ve chosen this view
The place is familiar the feeling is new
This old church lies in ruin from the wind and the rain
And I’ll rest my guitar on the stones that remain

Bless this guitar
To reach out
And touch who we are
Bless this guitar

From the mountain the sea looks as calm as a pool
The evening is welcome the night is cool
I’ll sit here for a while with the breeze in my hair
While the kestrels above are riding the air

Greeks and Romans have stopped to look over the bay
Byzantine travellers have passed on their way
Here and there now and then stones have slipped from the wall
And these are the changes this place can recall
I’ve loved this wild place its smells and its sounds
Been here as long as the stars all around
I know the path well I’ll find my way back
Just one more late traveller on this ancient track

Blantyre Explosion

Moore/Lunny/McGlynn (Trad. Arr.)

By Clyde’s bonny banks as I slowly did wander
Among the pit heaps as the evening grew nigh
I spied a young woman all dressed in black mourning
Weeping and wailing with many a sigh
I stepped up beside her and gently addressed her
Would it help you to talk about the cause of your pain?
Weeping and wailing at last she did answer
Johnny Murphy, kind sir, is my true lover’s name.

Twenty one years of age, full of youth and good looking
To work down the mine of High Blantyre he came
Our wedding was fixed all the guests were invited
That calm summers’ evening my Johnny was slain
The explosion was heard by the women and children
With pale anxious faces they ran to the mine
When the news was made known all the hills rang with mourning
Thee hundred and ten Scottish miners were slain.

Mothers and daughters and sweethearts and lovers
The Blantyre explosion you’ll never forget
All you good people who hear my sad story
Remember the miners who lie at their rest.

Blackwater Side

Author: Unknown

One evening fair as I took the air by down Blackwater side
While gazing all around me an Irish lass I spied

All through the first part of the evening we rolled in sport and play
Then the young man arose and gathered his clothes singing fare thee well ’tis day

That’s not the promise you made to me when you lay on my breast
But you made me believe with your lying tongue that the sun it rose in the west

Go home go home to your fathers garden go home and cry your fill
And think of the sad misfortune brought on by your wanton will

There’s not a girl in all the country so easily led as I
When fishes they fly love and seas they run dry love it is then I will marry aye

Blackjack County Chains

Author: Willie Nelson

I was sittin’ beside the road in Black Jack County.
Not knowing that the Sheriff paid a bounty,
For men like me that hadn’t got a penny to their name.
So he locked my leg to 35 pounds of Black Jack County Chains.

And all we had to eat was bread and water,
Each day we built the road a mile and a quarter,
A Black Snake Whip would cut the back of any man who complained,
But we couldn’t fight back wearing 35 pounds of Black Jack County Chains.

One night while the Sheriff he was sleeping,
We all gathered round him slowly creeping,
Heaven help me to forget that night in the cold cold rain,
When we beat him to death with 35 pounds of Black Jack County Chains.

Now the whip marks have all healed and I am thankful,
There’s nothing left but a scar around my ankle.
But most of all I’m glad no man will be a slave again,
To a Black Snake Whip and 35 pounds of Black Jack County Chains.

More Info

This is on the album “Smoke and Strong Whiskey” which has its admirers. It was a difficult album for me and remains so many years on. It suffered from various mishaps and setbacks. I was out of my depth and there was a distinct lack of air in my waterwings.

This song was an out-take from a previous album. I don’t recall its origin nor where I first heard it sung.

Black Is The Colour

Capo step 1

Am F G Am
Black is the colour of my true love’s hair.
F G E7
Her lips are like some roses fair
F G E7
She has the sweetest smile and the gentlest hands
F G Am
And I love the ground whereon she stands.

I love my love and well she knows
I love the ground whereon she goes
I wish the day it soon would come
When she and I could be as one

I go to the Clyde and I mourn and weep
For satisfied I ne’er can be
I write her a letter just a few short lines
And suffer death a thousand times

Black is the colour of my true love’s hair.
Her lips are like some roses fair
She had the sweetest smile and the gentlest hands
And I love the ground whereon she stands.

More Info

I travelled the road with Hamish Imlach in 1967. I stayed in his home and befriended his family. He taught me so much, I was almost his apprentice. At the start of his singing career he was a serious singer and player. As time went by he veered more towards the comedy aspect of his repertoire.

In my view this was to the detriment of his work. He taught many of the emerging players many things,not all of them choose to remember. Those who did not forget include Bert Jansch, Luke Kelly, Jim McCann, Archie Fisher, Rab Noakes and many others too..

This was one of Hamish’s big songs. Every time I sing it he is sitting beside me, I loved him dearly, still do…


Billy Gray

Author: Norman Blake

Billy Gray rode into Gantry way back in ’83
There he first met with young Sarah McClean
The wild flower of morning, the rose of the dawning
She heralded springtime in Billy’s life that day

Sarah she could not see the daylight of reality
In her young eyes Billy bore not a flaw
Knowing not her chosen one he was a bad man
Wanted in Kansas City by the law

Until one day a tall man came riding from the badlands
That lie to the north of New Mexico
He was overheard to say he was looking for Billy Gray
A dangerous man and a wanted outlaw

Word came creeping to Billy who lay sleeping
There in the Clarendon Bar and Hotel
He ran to the old church that lies on the outskirts
Thinking he might hide in the old steeple bell

A rifle ball came flying, Billy lay dying
There on the dust of the road where he lay
Sarah ran to him she was cursing the lawman
Poor girl knew no reason why Billy had been killed

Sarah still lives in that old white frame house
Where she first met Billy some forty years ago
The wild flower of morning has faded with the dawning
Of each day of sorrow the long years have grown

Written on a stone where the dusty winds have long blown
Eighteen words to a passing world you did say
True love knows no season no rhyme or no reason
Justice is cold as the Grainger County Clay

Biko Drum

Author: Wally Page

And they went home on an Easter road
On a silent night trying not to show
Who goes where and who goes when
Am F G
Thinking some day soon they’ll get it back again

From the ghetto in Capetown to dig the gold
Little boy blue he can’t be sold
Under tin roof and a plastic wall
Thinking some day soon we’re gonna come around.


C G Am
And the renegades sing all the renegades songs
Am F G
And the ones who know hope they’re doing wrong
The blacks and the coloureds play the Biko Drum
F G Am G
The blacks and the coloureds play the Biko drum
Am G
Hey hey listen to the Biko Drum (we’re gonna sing, sing it now)
Am G
Hey hey listen to the Biko Drum

Transvaal kids on a Transvaal day
Little by little they show the way
To a city of dream on solid ground
Thinking someday soon they’re gonna come around

Steve he’s living in a prison cell
All his friends that know hope he’s doing well
Down here they listen to the Biko Drum
Down here they listen to the songs he sung


Nelson, listen to the people sing
Nelson Mandela the people’s king
27 years in a white man’s jail
27 years they couldn’t make him say



More Info


My self and Wally were walking past The 5 Lamps when we bumped into Bishop Tutu.”The very lads “sez the Bish….He was looking for a good song about Steven Biko who accidentally killed himself whilst falling down the stairs of the Police Station while being held by SA police. Wally had her down in no time.



Before the Deluge

Author: Jackson Browne

Some of them were dreamers, some of them were fools
Who were making plans and thinking of the future
With the energy of the innocent, they were gathering the tools
That they would need to make their journey back to nature.
When the sand slipped through the opening
And their hands reached for the golden ring
And their hearts turned to each others hearts for refuge
In the troubled years that came before the deluge

Some of them knew pleasure, some of them knew pain
And for some of them it was only the moment that mattered
On the wild and crazy wings of youth they went flying around in the rain,
Until their feathers once so fine were torn and tattered
In the end they traded their tired wings
For the resignation that living brings
They traded love’s bright and fragile glow for the glitter and the rouge
In a moment they were swept before the deluge

So let the music keep your spirits high
Let the buildings keep your children dry
Let creation reveal its secrets by and by, by and by
When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky

Some of them were angry at the way that the earth was abused
By those men who learned to forge beauty into power
And in trying to protect us from them only became confused
By the magnitude of the fury in the final hour
When the sand was gone and the time arrived
In the naked dawn only a few survived
In attempts to understand this thing so simple and so huge
Believed they were meant to live after the deluge

So let the music keep your spirits high
Let the buildings keep your children dry
Let creation reveal its secrets by and by, by and by
When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky

More Info
Jackson Browne, that man of America sang his song with me Millstreet in 1996 and in the Philharmonic Liverpool in 2004.We still plan to write a song together.


Richard Thompson
I was 18 when I came to town they called it the summer of love
Burning babies burning flags the hawks against the doves
I took a job at the steaming way down on Caltrim St,
Fell in love with a laundry girl that was workin next to me.

Brown hair zig zagged across her face and a look of half surprise,
Like a fox caught in the headlights there was animal in her eyes,
She said to me can’t you see I’m not the factory kind,
If you don’t take me out of here I’ll surely lose my mind

She was a rare thing fine as a bee’s wing
So fine a breath of wind might blow her away
She was a lost child, she was runnin’ wild (she said)
So long as theres no price on love I’ll stay
You wouldn’t want me any other way.

We busked around the market towns fruit pickin down in kent
We could tinker pots and pans or knives wherever we went.
We were campin down the Gower one time, the work was mighty good.
She wouldn’t wait for the harvest, I thought we should.

I said to her we’ll settle down, get a few acres dug,
A fire burning in the hearth and babbies on the rug.
She said Oh man you foolish man that surely sounds like hell,
You might be lord of half the world,You’ll not own me as well


We were drinking more in those days our tempers reached a pitch
Like a fool I let her run away when she took the rambling itch.
Last I heard she was living rough back on the Derby beat
A bottle of White Horse in her pocket, a Wolfhound at her feet

They say that she got married once to a man called Romany Brown
Even a gypsy caravan was too much like settlin’ down
They say her rose has faded, rough weather and hard booze,
Maybe thats the price you pay for the chains that you refuse

She was a rare thing, fine as a bee’s wing
I miss her more than ever words can say
If I could just taste all of her wildness now
If I could hold her in my arms today…..
I wouldn’t want her any other way

More Info

It is never easy writing these words out. First there is the problem of the lyric as written. Invariably I need to turn these songs into my own dialect, into the english as I sing it. Sometimes I am unable to resist slipping back into the writers idiom when seduced by the beauty of the sound of a particular word. Then there is the bloody grammar and punctuation which can get in the way of writng a song as she should be sung (as distinct from the way Fr. Clandillon would have me write it!)

This song is, for me, a modern classic in the old style. Up there with Musgrave and Baker, Raggle and Yellow Bittern, it will survive the ages that are left and will shine brightly when us lads are long forgotton.

Its a beauty to sing, it is usually good but every now and then a version energes that stills my night and leaves me totally satisfied at the last chord not caring about audience or next song or The Gig or anything, just to bathe in the luxury of a beautiful song shared and sung to a receptive kipful of listeners.









Am.D C…


Christy Moore/Wally Page
There’s an easy place down Gallowgate to the East End of Glasgow
It’s a ballroom of remembrance and a disco
Where the shooting stars light up the fresco
Where the last ones and the lovers go … to carry on

We sang about the Nicky Tams in the back room of the Scotia
We drank sweet wines and called for neon pints of Fidel Castro
Till it was time to fly to dreamland
Out of Bairds, up the stairs to hell or to heaven we’d go

Come all you dreamers hear the sound of the Barrows humming
Come all you dreamers to Barrowland
Hear Mags McIvor and the ghost of the GayBirds calling
Come all you dreamers to Barrowland

The Lassies of the Broomielaw in their Cuban Heels are dancing
Here comes Our Lady of the Clyde and there goes Jinky Johnston
They’ve come back to rock and roll in the church of ceili
To waltz beneath the carousel of healing
To jitterbug and boogie the night away

Come all you dreamers……….

More Info

I first visited The Barrows in 1967 and Barrowland 20 years later in 1987.

My first gig in Scotland was in The Glasgow Folk Centre, Montrose St in ’67.Drew Moyes was the organiser of the club. As I recall I opened for Hamish Imlach and subsequently was booked to do a set some time later.The Scotia Bar was the meeting place for musicians and it was just my kind of pub in 1967.I met Arthur Johnson,Mick Broderick,Billy Connolly,Danny Kyle,Tam Harvey,Gerry Rafferty,Red Billy,Big Pat and that was just my first visit.

20 years on I got my first gig in Barrowland and it has been one of my favourite venues in the world ever since.Not for the fainthearted (no seats nor lifts,no arty fartys) it is a basic room but it is imbued with the Spirit of 10,000 gigs. From Bill McGregor and his GayBirds up to whoever might be pulling them in today.

On my last visit I invited Wally Page over for The Barrowland experience and we came up with this tribute to Grand Auld Hall.



Fintan Vallely

Leitrim is a very funny place sir
It’s a strange and a troubled land
All the boys are in the IRA sir
All the women are in Cumann na mBan
Every tractor has a Nicky Kelly sticker
Displayed for all to see
Sure it was no wonder that the Gardai made a blunder
Said your man from RTE

Today-Tonight they went to Ballinamore sir
They were briefed by the Gardai
On a video they showed to them the Provo’s
Eating curry and drinking tea
They were all wearing Russian balaclavas
Each carried an RPG
British scalps around their tummy pockets full of stolen money
Said your man from RTE

Leitrim is seething with sedition
It’s Sinn Fein through and through
All the task force have joined the local unit
The post office in the GHQ
They’ve a racetrack underground for training Shergar
No comment! Is all they’ll say to me
Subversion here is bubblin’ please take me back to Dublin
Said your man from RTE

Every bird upon my word is singing I’m a rebel sir up in Leitrim sir
Every hen indeed is laying hand grenades I do declare sir in Dromahair sir
Every auld crock of a Drumsna cock is longing to be free
Even sheep are advising there’ll be another rising said your man from RTE

Ballad Of Wandering Aengus

William Butler Yeats

Ivy Ruler

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
I cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream,
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name;
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded in the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands.
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and hold her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

More Info

I was backstage at Woodstock talking to Jimi when Richie ambled past and hearing my Kildare accent enquired about Aongus and the origin. I told him about Brother Lazerian trying to teach us the beauty of Yeats til it was time for Richie to go  on. I heard a rumour that Judy Collins wrote the tune but I got a horrid bollockin in Coolara House one night for suggesting same.Apparently twas Queen Maeve herself that wrote the tune for this one and taught it to Joe Dowd in a dream one night.

Ballad Of Michael Gaughan

Seamus Robinson
Take me home to Mayo
Back across the sea
Take me home to Mayo
Where once I ran so free.
Take me home to Mayo
And let my body lie
Home in Mayo
Beneath the western sky.

My name is Michael Gaughan
From Ballina I came.
I saw my people suffering
I swore to break the chains.
I took the boat to England
Prepared to fight or die
Far away from Mayo
Beneath the western sky.

My body cold and hungry
In Parkhurst jail I lie.
In my fight for freedom
On hunger strike I’ll die.
I have one last request to make
I hope you won’t deny:
Take my body home to Mayo
Beneath the western sky.

Take me home to Mayo
Back across the sea.
Take me home to Mayo
Where once I ran so free.
Take me home to Mayo
And let my body lie
Home again in Mayo
Beneath the western sky.
Orginal Version:

Take me home to Mayo, across the Irish Sea;
Home to dear old Mayo, where once I roamed so free.
Take me home to Mayo, there let my body lie;
Home at last in Mayo, beneath an Irish sky.

My name is Michael Gaughan, from Ballina I came;
I saw my people suffering and swore to break their chain –
I raised the flag in England, prepared to fight or die –
Far away from Mayo, beneath an Irish sky.


My body cold and hungry, in Parkhurst Gaol I lie;
For loving of my country, on hunger strike I die —
I have just one last longing, I pray you’ll not deny –
Bury me in Mayo, beneath an Irish sky.

Repeat chorus twice

Back Home In Derry

Author: Bobby Sands

Am      Em
In 1803 we sailed out to sea
G            D             Am
Out from the sweet town of Derry
Am                        Em
For Australia bound if we didn’t all drown
G            D          Am
And the marks of our fetters we carried
Am                   Em
In our rusty iron chains we sighed for our weans
Am                    Em
Our good women we left in sorrow
Am                      Em
As the mainsails unfurled, our curses we hurled
G            D           Am
On the English, and thoughts of tomorrow


C   G     Am         G            Am
Oh….. I wish I was back home in Derry
C   G     Am         G            Am
Oh….. I wish I was back home in Derry

At the mouth of the Foyle, bid farewell to the soil
As down below decks we were lying
O’Doherty screamed, woken out of a dream
By a vision of bold Robert dying
The sun burned cruel as we dished out the gruel
Dan O’Connor was down with a fever
Sixty rebels today bound for Botany Bay
How many will meet their reciever


I cursed them to hell as her bow fought the swell
Our ship danced like a moth in the firelight
White horses rode high as the devil passed by
Taking souls to Hades by twilight
Five weeks out to sea, we were now forty-three
Our comrades we buried each morning
In our own slime we were lost in a time
Of endless night without dawning


Van Diemen’s land is a hell for a man
To live out his whole life in slavery
Where the climate is raw and the gun makes the law
Neither wind nor rain care for bravery
Twenty years have gone by, I’ve ended my bond
My comrades ghosts walk behind me
A rebel I came – I’m still the same
On the cold winters night you will find me


More Info

I was playing in Derry and staying with The Barrett Family. After my gig we were gathered in Chamberlain St having a banter and drinking tea when a bit of singing broke out.  A lad, just  home from The Blocks, sang these verses and  subsequently wrote out the words for me.  At the time the name Bobby Sands was not known to the world as it is today.  The following night I played in Bellaghy where the same process took place when I stayed with Scullion.  Later on he “sang” McIlhatton for me and told me it had been written by Bobby Sands with whom he had shared a cell while “On the Blanket”.  The name was becoming known to me.
He used the air of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald from Gordon Lightfoot, an air which I suspect has earlier origins.  My version of Bobby’s song is shorter than the original.


Away Ye Broken Heart

Author: P. Stewart

Away, away you broken heart you
Leave my chest like a hollow cave
Stand me somewhere near the ocean
I will wait there wave after wave

Away, away you broken heart you
Who can heal you when you’re like this
There’s no angel born in heaven
There’s no lover’s healing kiss

Away, away you broken heart you
Lose yourself in the darkest night
If the stars can take your sorrow
Let them take it and that’s alright

Away, away you broken heart you
Leave my breast like a hollow cave
Stand me somewhere near the ocean
I will wait there wave after wave.
More Info

Phil Stewart wrote this beautiful song of utter heartbrokeness.Stark,empty song of hurt and abandonment,not every ones cup of tea and seldom sung. At Vicar St last December a request came up from the Hall and I started in not knowing whether I still had it.The Doctor stroked out some pure lonesome chords and we somehow got through,there was neither a dry eye nor leg in the house.


Dominic Behan

Have you been to Avondale?
Or lingered in her lovely vale
Where tall trees whisper all low the tale
Of Avondale’s proud eagle

Where proud and ancient glories fade
Such was the place where he was laid
Like Christ was thirty pieces paid
For Avondale’s proud eagle

Long years that green and lovely glade
Has nursed Parnell her proudest Gael
And cursed that land that has betrayed
Avondale’s proud eagle

More Info

Sorry no essay at present.



Sorry no Chords at present.

As I Roved Out

Trad / Arr: Planxty
As I roved out on a bright May morning
To view the meadows and flowers gay
Whom should I spy but my own true lover
As she sat under yon willow tree

I took off my hat and I did salute her
I did salute her most courageously
When she turned around well the tears fell from her
Sayin’ “False young man, you have deluded me

A diamond ring I owned I gave you
A diamond ring to wear on your right hand
But the vows you made, love, you went and broke them
And married the lassie that had the land”

“If I’d married the lassie that had the land, my love
It’s that I’ll rue till the day I die
When misfortune falls sure no man can shun it
I was blindfolded I’ll ne’er deny”

Now at nights when I go to my bed of slumber
The thoughts of my true love run in my mind
When I turned around to embrace my darling
Instead of gold sure it’s brass I find

And I wish the Queen would call home her army
From the West Indies, Amerikay and Spain
And every man to his wedded woman
In hopes that you and I will meet again.

More Info
I used to introduce this as having been learned from John Reilly. The singer Andy Rynne subsequently contacted me to remind me that he taught me the song at the Boyle Fleadh in 1964 after mistakenly polishing off my carry- out at a coming out party in Jack Reddys to mourn the loss of Jacks Jinnet who had fallen into a boghole on the way home after a, particularily bawdy, Comhaltas night in Pat Dowlings where poor auld Paddy Kenny mistook the Emmet Spiceland for three young slappers

Sorry no Chords at present.

View the song here

Arthur Mc Bride

Trad / Arr: Planxty

I had a first cousin called Arthur McBride,
He and I took a stroll down by the sea-side,
A-seeking good fortune and what might the tide,
It was just as the day was a-dawning
Then after resting we both took a tramp
We met Sergeant Harpur and Corporal Cramp
Besides the wee drummer who beat up our camp,
With his rowdy-dow-dow in the morning

He says: “My young fellows if you will enlist,
A guinea you quickly shall have in your fist
And besides a crown for to kick up the dust,
And drink the king’s health in the morning.”
Had we been such fools as to take the advance,
With a wee bit of money we’d have to run chance,
“Do you think it no scruples for to send us to France.
Where we would be killed in the morning.”

He says: “My young fellows if I hear but one word,
I instantly now will out with my sword,
And into your bodies as strength will afford,
So now my gay devils take warning.”
But Arthur and I we took the odds,
And we gave them no chance for to launch out their swords,
Our whacking shillelaghs came over their heads,
And paid them right smart in the morning.

As for the wee drummer, we rifled his pouch,
And we made a football of his rowdy-dow-dow
And into the ocean to rock and to roll
And bade it a tedious returning.
As for the old rapier that hung by his side,
We pitched it as far as we could in the tide,
To the devil I pit you says Arthur McBride,
To temper your steel in the morning.

More Info

I have no idea hgow this Andy Irvine song found its way onto this site.Some of our staff here can be very careless, some even sleep on the job.The board are considering outsourcing to Colombia where staying awake is not a problem.



Another Song Is Born

Christy Moore

I looked over my shoulder but not for too long,
It’s no place to look if you’re writing a song,
Some songs grow ancient and live through the years,
While others die off and dry up like tears.

You open the cloak and lift up a veil,
The hammer is raised to drive home a nail,
The flesh is torn open, the bone is revealed,
Wounds that fester seldom get healed.

Songs written for love and written for gain,
Some make you laugh, soothe a bad pain,
Songs have a heart, a body, a soul,
You lay one to rest and another song is born.

While we rescue banks and Royal Kilmanham Halls,
Hell on this earth means nothing at all,
My hands are all withered and I cannot breathe,
The nightmare of indifference to suffering and need.


The elite on the plinth maintain status quo,
Marble and granite their movements are slow,
The silk stays unruffled as the eyebrows are raised,
Satin and mohair the good lord be praised.




Sorry no Chords at present.

Andytown Girl

Author: Christy Moore

I can see the image of your face

but I cannot hear your voice

although your lips are moving

I can see your lips are moving


I can see that you are laughing

but I cannot hear your voice

although your eyes are sparkling

I can see your eyes are sparkling


you are playing in the sand

but I cannot hear your voice

now I see you dancing

I can see your Irish dancing


From behind those prison walls

I could not hear your voice

but when you told me you were dreaming

I could tell what you were dreaming


I saw how you were taken

but I could not hear your voice

I know you were’nt complaining

you were not one for complaining


I saw your hands joined in communion

but I could not hear your voice

I know you took a beating

but you were never beaten


More Info


Mairéad Farrell wrote me many years ago asking would I consider writing a song about the struggle in Armagh Prison.(I subsequently wrote “On The Bridge”).The above is an early draft of a song I wrote after Mairéad was executed in Gibralter.I never got to sing it. Terry O’Neill subsequently performed a version of the song with music from Brian Moore. ( for the record there is a very fine song written by Marguerita D’Arcy called ” Armagh Women”.A rough recording can be heard on tk13 of the Lilac Disc of the Box Set from a few years back. There are plenty of them out there)



Sorry no Chords at present.



Among The Wicklow Hills

Pierce Turner
The autumn evenings filled with copper shades
I see the birds’ neck in the frame
A figure walks into the sunset
Someone goes past suspended from the sky

Takes more imagination
When everything’s remote control
For me it’s just a case of
What’s on the far side of the road

Tell everybody
I’m going away for ten years
I’m going to wander
Among the Wicklow hills

The travelling children in their Sunday clothes
Lost on the corner of the Street
Fat gypsy lady smacks the windowpane
A farm dog gets out on the motorway

Takes more imagination
When everything’s remote control
For me it’s just a case of
What’s on the far side of the road

Tell everybody
I’m going away for ten years
I’m going to wander
Among the Wicklow hills

More Info

Sorry no essay at present.


Sorry no Chords at present.

America, You Are Not The World

America your head is so big
America your belly is so big
I LOVE you
but I wish you’d stay where you live

In America the land of the free they say
land of opportunity in a just and truthful way
where the president is never black female or gay
and until that day you’ve nothing to say to help me believe

In America you gave us the hamburger
America you know where you can shove your hamburger
don’t you wonder why in Estonia they say
hey you, yes you, you pig you big fat pig

Steely blue eyes with no love in them scan the world
and a humourless smile with no warmth within greets the world
while I who have nothing to offer you no no no no
but this heart deep and true you say you don’t need

See with your eyes feel with your hands, please
Hear with your ears know in your soul please
For haven’t you me with you now and I love you
America, I love you…

More Info
Apologies to the man for giving it the wrong title on “Burning Times”. Some Morrissey fans were outraged by my having the audacity to cover a song from “their” man.Some Americans were too but both Declan and I like to perform this as it allows us both to express our love for this beautiful country( but not for all of what goes on in it.)

Sorry no Chords at present.


Don Lange

The nighthawk flies and the owl cries as we’re driving down the road.
Listening to the music on the all night radio show,

The announcer comes on says if you’ve got ideas I’ll file the patent for you,
What’s an idea if it’s not in the store makin’ a buck or two.
We drive to the town but the shutters are down and the all-night restaurant’s closed
Its the land of the free,we’ve got booze and T.V. and there’s tramps in the telephone booths.
The stars and the trees and the early Spring breeze say forget what assassins have done,
Take our good soil in the palm of your hands and wait for tomorrows sun.


Its a long way from the heartlands
to Santiago bay
Where the good doctor lies with blood in his eyes
and the bullets read U.S.of A.


A truck driver’s wife she leads a rough life he spends his life on the road.
Carrying the goods all the copper and wood thats what makes America great,
But the dollars like swallows they fly to the South where they know they’ve got something to gain,
Allende is killed, and the trucks are soon rolling again.


The nighthawk flies and the owl it cries as we’re driving down the road,
The full moon reveals all the houses and fields where good people do what they’re told,
Victor Jara he lies with coins in his eyes there’s no one around him to mourn,
Who needs a poet who won’t take commands who’d rather make love then war.




More Info



I have 3 versions of where I heard this song.

1. On AFN radio late one night I heard Peggy Seeger sing it out of Franfurt.(unlikely).
2. I heard Don Lange sing it in The Meeting Place Dorset St. Dublin.(even more unlikely).
3. The Dir. of  L.E. in R.T.E. sent me a cassette after hearing me sing El Salvador(by Johnny Duhan) in The Felons Club In Andytown.( poss.).

It is a powerful song which never loses its potency. I first recorded it with Moving Hearts in 1983( Dark End of The Street) and again in 2002 ( Live at Vicar St.)
The author still  writes,sings and records and,I am glad to say still sends me the occasional song















All I Remember

Mick Hanly

I was lured by the rocking horse,
Sweets and the bualadh bos,
Fifty wild boys to a room.
Sing lámh, lámh eile, the dish ran away with the spoon.
Black shoes and stockings for those who say don’t.
Blue is the colour outside.
God made the world,
The snake tempted Eve and she died.
Wild Christian Brothers sharpening their leathers,
Learn it by heart, that’s the rule.
All I remember is dreading September and school.

And they made me for better or worse,
The fool that I am or the wise man I’ll be.
And they gave me their blessings or curse.
It wasn’t their fault I was me …
Not the one that you see.

The priest in confession condemns my obsession,
With thoughts that I do not invite.
I mumble and stutter,
He slams down the shutter,
Goodnight   – (Good night to you too, Father!)
Stainless as steel,
Lord, you know how I feel,
Someone shoot me while my soul is clear.
I don’t think I’ll last,
But my vow to abstain was sincere.
Arch-confraternity men to the fight,
Raise up your banners on high.
Searching for grace,
Securing my place,
When I die.


Oh God, he kept a very close eye on me,
Hung round my bed in the darkness, he spied on me,
Caught me in the long grass so often, he died on me….

Ballrooms of romance in Salthill or Mallow,
I stood like John Wayne by the wall,
Lined up like cattle, we wait to do battle and fall.
You can’t wine and dine her in an old Morris Minor,
So ask her before it’s too late.
I danced on girls’ toes – accepted rejection as my fate.
Drink was my saviour, it made me much braver,
But I couldn’t hold it too well.
I slipped on the coach and ruined my approach as I fell.


More Info


In my memory Mick Hanly sang this song to me in Connolly Hall Cork circa 1981. His words have been corrupted over the years as I sang it in sheebeens and concert halls.  It describes fittingly the 50s and 60s groping with adolescence whilst gettin’ the head bate off of us by frustrated bog trotters dying from the lack of horn pleasure if not the horn itself, love and companionship too, the poor hures. 


















A pair of brown eyes

Shane Mac Gowan

One summer evening drunk as hell,
I sat there nearly lifeless.
An old man in the corner sang,
Where the water lilies grow.
On the jukebox Johnny sang,
About a thing called love.
And it’s “how are you kid? What’s your name?
And what do you know?”
In blood and death ‘neath a screaming sky,
I lay down on the ground.
The arms and legs of other men,
Were scattered all around.
Some prayed and cursed, then cursed and prayed,
And then they prayed some more.
And the only thing that I could see,
Was a pair of brown eyes they were looking at me.
When we got back, labeled parts one to three,
There was no pair of brown eyes waiting for me.
And a rovin’ a rovin’ a rovin’ I’ll go,
A rovin’ a rovin’ a rovin’ I’ll go,
And a rovin’ a rovin’ a rovin’ I’ll go,
For a pair of brown eyes,
For a pair of brown eyes.
I looked at him he looked at me,
All I could do was hate him.
While Ray and Philomena sang,
Of my elusive dream.
I saw the streams and the rolling hills,
Where his brown eyes were waiting.
And I thought about a pair of brown eyes,
That waited once for me,
That waited once for me.
So drunk as hell I left the place,
Sometimes walking, sometimes crawling.
A hungry sound came through the breeze,
So I gave the walls a talking.
And I heard the sounds of long ago,
From the old canal.
And the birds were whistling in the trees,
Where the wind was gently laughing.
And a rovin’ a rovin’ a rovin’ I’ll go,
A rovin’ a rovin’ a rovin’ I’ll go,
And a rovin’ a rovin’ a rovin’ I’ll go,
For a pair of brown eyes,
For a pair of brown eyes.

More Info

This is the first Pogues song I learned. I liked them from day one – Shane’s lyrics just got to me.  He writes the Erse in a way that very few writers can.  Johnny Mulhearn has it too and maybe Dempsey in a more urban way.  It is of the source and touches the core.  McGahern has it and Heaney too.  McGowan has it but these days he chooses to rest his muse and act the cackling clown.. .If he never  writes another song he will have written his fair share, he has made his mark with songs that are beautiful, that will last for as long as paddies and bridies sing.


Sorry no Chords at present.

Barrowland, Glasgow

april 6th

1.Back home in Derry

2.North and South

3. Pity the poor Immigrant



6.Yellow Triangle

7.Cry like a man

8.Ordinary man

9.This is the day

10.No time for love

11.Little musgrave

12. Missing You

13. Scapegoats ( for Paddy Hill)



16. Smoke and strong whiskey

17.Two conneeleys

18.Viva la Quinte Brigada

19 Time has come


21 Biko drum

22 Ride On

23.Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulatte



25.Nancy Spain

26.Bright blue rose

27.Black is the colour( For Hamish Imlach)

28. Lisdoonvarna


Donegal, Dundalk & Dungannon

Beechmount – West Belfast, Bantry Masters, Clonakilty

Beechmount – West Belfast July 30th, Bantry Masters August 13th, Clonakilty August 30th, 31st

West Belfast –
Christy + Declan
Bantry Masters –
De Barras – Clonakilty
Christy + Declan


De Barras – Clonakilty
Christy + Declan
July 30th
John O’Dreams
Back Home in Derry
Ride On
Time Has Come
Andytown Girl (Terry O’Neill)
On the Bridge
Minds Locked Shut
No Time for Love
Irish Ways
Only Our Rivers
August 13th
Banks of the Lee
Natives How Long
Quiet Desperation
Irish Ways
3 Reels with Martin Hayes, Denis Cahill + Steve Cooney
As I roved – with Martin Hayes, Denis Cahill + Steve Cooney
Spancilhill – Martin Hayes, Denis Cahill + Steve Cooney
Raggle � Martin Hayes, Denis Cahill + Steve Cooney
1 Reel � Martin Hayes, Denis Cahill + Steve Cooney
Aengus – with Steve Cooney
Burning Times – with Steve Cooney
Slow Air � with Mick O’Brien
2 Reels � Mick O’Brien + Steve Cooney
Napoleon � with Frank Harte
Chicago � with Frank Harte + Steve Cooney
August 30 
Faithfull Departed
Sacco, Vanzetti
All I remember
Jack Doyle
America, I love you
Hattie Carroll
Cry like a man
Black Colour
The Deluge
Last Cold Kiss
Yellow Triangel
Brown Eyes
Missing You
Metropolitan Avenue
Magic Nights
Ride On
Continental Ceili
August 31
Crooked Highway
Ride On
North + South
Go Move

Musikhalle, Hamburg & Tempodrome, Berlin

Musikhalle, Hamburg
25th October

1. North and South
2. Beeswing
3. Missing You
4. Butterfly
5. Sixteen Fishermen Raving
6. Motherland
7. Hattie Carroll
8. America I.L.Y.
9. City of Chicago
10. Ride On
11. Biko Drum
12. Magic nights
13. Hiroshima N.R.R.
14. Burning Times
15. Flickering Light
16. Aongus
17. Delirium Tremens
18. Only our Rivers
19. Released (Declan)
20. Faithfull Departed
21. Natives
22. The Shovel
23. Nancy Spain
24. After The deluge
25. Pontchartrain
26. Lisdoonvarna


27. Voyage
28. Back Home in Derry
29. Hurt
30. Black is the Colour
31. Sonny’s dream

2 hours, 35 minutes


Tempodrome, Berlin
27th October

1. Burning Times
2. North and South
3. Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette
4. Pontchartrain
5. Biko Drum
6. Hattie Carroll
7. Wandering Aongus
8. Missing You
9. Butterfly
10. Wise and Holy Woman
11. America.I.L.Y
12. Viva La Quince brigada
13. Ride On
14. Ordinary Man
15. Beeswing
16. Go Move Shift
17. Motherland
18. Two Island swans
19. Natives
20. City of Chicago
21. Delirium Tremens
22. Released (Declan)
23. Metropolitan Avenue
24. The Contender
25. Lisdoonvarna
26. Black is the colour


27. Allende
28. Victor Jara
29. Hurt
30. The Shovel
31. Nancy Spain

2 hours, 25 minutes

TF Castlebar May

May 13th

Ennis, Sligo, Armagh

GLÓR Ennis, 14th March; Sligo 22nd & 23rd; Armagh 31st & 1st April