MEET THE GLENFOLK FOUR
FIONA McKENNA: aged 20 years, has been acting and singing publicly since the age of 12 and has sung every type of song in every type of place that one can think of in Ireland. She comes from Belfast, has red hair, likes nothing better than to sing and hates nothing more than rehearsing. She provides most of the harmony on the record.
LARRY ROACHE: Was educated in Dublin where he has a Master's Degree from Trinity College where he says he learned his first creative ideas (we never found out from whom though) . Has travelled extensively in Ireland collecting and singing folk songs. Prides himself on being a connoisseur of good songs, pretty girls and Guinness! !
MICHAEL McKENNA: Sings solo on the Loch Tay Boat Song and with Leo on The Foggy Dew. As well as being a talented singer and writer is one of Belfast's foremost young Actor-Producers. Most of the group's timing and drive comes from the careful direction of Mike whose theory is that Folk singing is 90% acting and 10% singing. He has worked in numerous occupations and is currently reading Law. He plays the Banjo as well.
LEO MARTIN: Was educated in Belfast where he took his Degree from Queen's University and has also a wide education in Classical Music. Most of the musical arrangements on the record are his and in addition he plays both the Spanish and 12 stringed guitars. He has travelled extensively in Europe and has an interest in French and Spanish Folk music. He has broadcast many times in Ireland and has also written extensively on Irish Music under various names. He sings the solo part on "The Patriot Game".
It was getting quite late in Cushendun: one of those long summer evenings where the sky never really gets dark in the North of Antrim. The splash of the sea against the fishing boats just over the Harbour wall was being echoed by the equally poetic swish of Guinness in Mrs. McNeil's. So anyway this fellow who said he had rowed across from Scotland (to avoid the unchristian licensing hours on the Mull of Kintyre) says: "do any of you know the Loch Tay Boat Song?" Some of us did; and we sang it; and our friend (who had wept into his glass during the performance) turned to us dramatically and cried "there is nothin' like an Irishmon singing a guid Scawttish song". That is how the idea of the Glenfolk Four was born.
This is an album of folk songs, sung and played in the modern manner. For us folk singing is not something about which to be profound, it is something to perform; to be a part of; and to live.
We ask you to listen to our efforts and perhaps the following information about the songs will help you enjoy this record even more.
MY AUNT JANE:
This song (collected by Dr. Richard Hayward who re-wrote many of the humorous words) is probably one of the first songs we knew when we were children and is well known in Belfast as a skipping song.
LOCH TAY BOAT SONG:
There is no more that one can say about this beautiful love song except that it is Scottish and that we first heard it from a Scotsman who came on holiday to Co. Antrim some years ago.
THE MUSKERRY SPORTSMAN:
This is a song that every student in Ireland knows. It is one of those rousing efforts which are sung to try and emphasise male supremacy in Ireland - I never could see the point of that though. It comes from Co. Cork and Thady Quill actually lived there; or if he didn't, he ought to have! It was collected for us originally by Dr. Richard Hayward. who has sung most of the best Irish Ballads at one time or other.
THE FOGGY DEW:
It is an interesting side-light on our opinions of folk singing that most of the really good ballads in Ireland were written before 1850. C. Woodham Smith in her otherwise exhaustive work does not deal with this point, but we feel quite definitely that this was because most of the ballad singers were in fact eaten during the famine! I do hope that this was not the origin of Irish stew! This is an ironic and poignant song putting over the full feeling of the events that" took place in Ireland during the early part of this Century.
THE MAID OF FIFE-O:
This is a Scottish song and it is a love song which only goes to show that the Scots are not as mean as they are made out to be. We first heard this sung by Ewan MacColl.
THE ORANGE MAID OF SLIGO:
This little air is a real gem which Dr. Richard Hayward collected and has been singing for many years. It is one of the few Orange love songs that we know; which only goes to show that someone must have loved an Orangeman! ! !
THE DUCKS OF MAGHERALIN:
There is a dispute in Ireland at present about the building of a new University and most of the provincial cities have put forward a strong case for it being their prerogative. Surely this song will put the matter beyond all doubt as to where it ought to be.
MANY YOUNG MEN OF TWENTY:
This is a modern song written within the last few years by John B. Keane. He is Ireland's most prolific young playwright. He owns a pub in Listowel, Co. Kerry, which is worth visiting. There have been several versions of this song presented on records but as far as we can find this is the only one which is authentically based upon the play of the same name. It has a yearning wistful appeal about it and it is a great example of a song which is to be acted rather than sung.
KELLY THE BOY FROM KILLANE:
This is a brave and tragic song of the 1798 rebellion. John Kelly was one of the insurgent leaders in the County of Wexford of whom Begneal Harvey was commander-in-chief. After the battle in the town of Ross they were both executed. The words were written to an old air by P. J. McCall.
EGGS AND MARROWBONE:
We have known this song for years and we haven't the faintest idea from where it comes except that every County in Ireland claims to have originated it.
This is another rude Irish anti-feminist song and it is very popular in the Counties of Limerick and Waterford. We like it because it is a typical Irish "ad-lib" style of folk-song.
THE PATRIOT GAME:
This song was written by Dominic Behan, himself a well-known folk singer and has become a popular favourite with folk singing groups throughout the world for this is a modern treatment of a modern Irish problem. The reconciliation between ideals and their consequences.
Sleeve Notes by LEO MARTIN
An old recording engineer (3,000 years old, he said afterwards, but that was just how be felt!) once had a nightmare. As he explained to us, he dreamt he was trying to record the Glenfolk 4 for an album called 'We Being Young', and woke up screaming … only to find that it was perfectly true!
This same loyal old recording engineer together with a dedicated staff of tired technicians, are responsible at great personal risk for capturing all of this for you.
'We Being Young is an appropriate title for anything to do with the G.F.F. For youth is certainly their most notable feature.
We had the most terrible job in finding any of them to put this album together. Being (as everyone knows) the most explosive and dynamic musical talent to erupt from Ireland for years, their interests arc so diverse and their singing itinerary so wide, that to keep them in one place long enough to capture some of this and their talent on disc we found a Herculean task. We did not succeed. We put them on disc, of course, it's just that we had to follow them around the country on one of their wild singing expeditions recording wherever we could. And this is the result.
In many ways this is one of the most remarkable records that we have ever made, and we are very proud of it. It is a collection of folk songs, played, sung and lived with a grace, style and polish seldom heard outside the most sophisticated of recording studios.
Here, the G.F.F. sing. play and make noise entirely alone, without any gimmicks or 'trick effects: playing 7 instruments (Not all at once) and doing so spontaneously and unselfconsciously. Few of the songs were recorded in more than one 'take, and they also wrote (or rather Leo did when the others could find him) all their musical arrangements.
Since their first album 'The Relics of Ould Dacency' — a best seller in Ireland, America and Australia — and their single recording of 'The Ducks of Magheralin, a kind of national institution. a lot of people have been eagerly awaiting this LP. We are delighted to say this is the G.F.F. as they really wanted to be recorded: singing what they wanted, as they wanted, and the result is a sparkling blend of the new and the old in folk music.
So we asked each of them what they thought of this recording session: — "At least with this recording the engineers did not keep leaping out every fifteen minutes for their Union tea break … they went out every five minutes for their stout break." (Mike).
Have you ever tried performing 'My Singing Bird' in the middle of a thunder storm? I was nearly brained by a couple of slates. I wouldn't like people to think I made that sort of noise tin purpose." (Fiona).
"I must say that I was very impressed with the arrangement of the 'Little Beggar Man': the only thing that Leo had written in for me to play both Banjo and Mandoline at the same time ! — It's a blessing the pubs were shut!" (John)
" We owe a great deal to our Recording Manager, without his selfless devotion to his task, his never ending patience and his calm and friendly disposition we could never have achieved this sound … The funeral is to Glasnevin next Friday, wreaths appreciated." (Leo).
We suppose all this will serve to show the healthy attitude towards recording adopted by these talented people who started folk singing because they enjoyed it and sec no reason to stop enjoying it.
We think you will find that here is contained all shades and moods of expression in folk music from the rousing Sea-tarnished sound of 'Greenland' to the slow and moving beauty of 'My Singing Bird': from the raucous earthy words of 'The Zoological Gardens' to the wistful child-like sentiments of 'I Know My Love' from the driving explosive rhythm of 'Captain Farrell' to the sly cynicism of 'We Being Young'.
Listen to them all now and share with us the pleasure we felt in being participants in the creation of what was for us something very special.
On most album sleeves we read talk of 'new sounds': of this we shall say no more. We have however a feeling that for a long time to come albums of folk music are going to be judged by standards that the Glenfolk 4 have set here.