Excerpt from the CHICAGO DAILY NEWS
Recent years have seen increased interest in Irish folk music, not only among descendants of the people from Eire, but among non-Irish Americans as well. One of the finest examples of this revival is a trio known as the Dayhills, a folk group in the tradition of the Irish bards of centuries past. The group consists of Tom and Barbara Dahill, a husband and wife from St. Paul, and Chicagoan Chuck Heymann.
For the last four years, the Dayhills have been performing ballads, jigs, reels, and hornpipes, showing greater mastery of the idiom each year. In recent months they have performed in several cities around the country: Chicago, St. Paul, Denver, San Francisco and Portland.
by Andrew Segal
The Man from the Daily Mail; we adapted this song from the singing of Patrick Hill, a singer and songwriter from Tipperary, now living in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The Hills of Granernore, The Banks of the Roses, and The Lish Young Buy-a-Broom; we adapted these three songs from the singing of Jack Finan, a well-known singer on the South Side of Chicago, originally from Sligo.
The Belfast Hornpipe, Old Man Dillon, The Rose in the Heather, Carmody's Jig, and The Lark in the Morning; we learned these tunes from Pat Flannagan, a button-accordion player, native of Mayo, presently living in Denver.
The Broad Black Brimmer we learned from Nick Coleman. Jr., who wrote the third verse and also taught us Slan Libh, a Paedar Kearney song. Nick is from St. Paul, now residing in Minneapolis.
Soldier, Oh Soldier, we dedicate to Jimmy Cummins from Mayo, "God help us."
We learned the first song on this album, STEP IT OUT MARY, because of a certain button-accordion player in St. Paul, Minnesota named Martin McHugh from Castlerea, County Roscommon. We often heard Martin singing the title of this song, but we didn't know the rest of it until after St. Paul Irishman, Dominic Caulfield, gave us the words. The first tune on this album, a jig, THE THREE LITTLE DRUMMERS, was also inspired by Mr. McHugh and his Ceili band, The Plough and Stars.
MARTIN SHEARY'S BALL came to us from another St. Paul source, Patrick J. Hill, who brought this song with him when he emigrated from Ireland in 1923. Pat says the song was written some years before by Tim O'Brien ( Brien's Tim) from the vicinity of Keeper Hill, County Tipperary.
The next two tunes, KITTY'S WEDDING and THE ECHO are two hornpipes we've come to call "Flannagan Tunes" since we learned these and most of the traditional tunes we play from Pat Flannagan.
COME ALL YE BRAVE AND TRUE IRISHMEN is one of many fine songs written about Kevin Barry. Nick Coleman, a singing reporter from the Minneapolis Tribune, was the first we ever heard sing it. THE CONNEMARA ROSE is a wedding song. In fact, it was first sung for us at a wedding reception in Scotland by the bride's brother, Mike O'Leary. Mike later gave us the words on the airplane upon our return to America. Charlie sings the song on this record and by a twist of fate, both he and Mike are getting married on the same day.
Terence P. Teahan ( Cuz) wrote the first of the reels that we played to end this side and he named it BARBARA DAHILL'S FLUTE. Then, Pat Flannagan joined us in the studio, playing his upside down button-accordion, for two rollicking reels, SPORTING PAT and SCOTCH MARY.
We start up again with three Kerry Slides, all of which we got from Cuz. Cuz is from Glountain, County Kerry, but can now be found at most musical gatherings around Chicago playing the concertina and accordion, as well as dancing up a storm. All at the fine age of seventy-one. His first teacher was Patrick O'Keefe, the legendary Kerry fiddler and source of these three tunes. The first two slides are simply known as O'KEEFE'S and the third is one he was asked to play nearly every day for a Mrs. McQuinn and came to be called MOM'S FAVORITE.
Many people said to us, "Please put THE TOWN I LOVED SO WELL on your record." Well, here it is, an excellent song, recently written by a singer and songwriter from Derry named Phil Coulter .
THE NIGHTINGALE is another song that all who heard it and heard that we were making a second album, said, "I hope that one's on it."
Pat Flannagan is featured again in this second selection of reels; JIM KENNEDY'S REEL and SANDY McINTYRE'S TRIP TO BOSTON. Pal knows hundreds of tunes but he possesses an in quenchable thirst for new ones. SANDY McINTYRE'S is such a one. Pat learned it over the phone from fiddler in Colorado Springs, Dan Courmier. Dan evidently learned it in a similar fashion from Sandy McIntyre, wherever he may be.
Tom first heard SEAN O'DWYER OF THE GLEN at Pat Hill's house in St. Paul. Pat is originally from the County Tipperary and has been singing, fiddling, and writing songs for most of his seventy-six years. Tom now plays the fiddle that Pat played, and sings many songs that Pat wrote and collected. SEAN O'DWYER is an old song translated from the Gaelic, that Pat has been singing all his life. We bid adieu with an old-time favorite, THE HOMES OF DONEGAL, with which we've ended many a pleasant night all across America.
Pat ( Packie) Flannagan, age 62, brought over the traditional Irish music from Tourmakeady, County Mayo, to Chicago and then to Denver, where we met him and where he now lives. Pat's wife, Mary, is also from Mayo. She dances, plays the mandolin, and keeps all of their children active in music and dancing. Mary, 16, is a great step dancer; Johnny, 14, is a fine young fiddler; and Jimmy, 12, is a promising accordion player. Our thanks to Pat for playing on this record with us and our congratulations to him for keeping Irish music alive wherever he goes.
Mary Flaherty's Favorite Reels — We always wanted to start a record with a couple of nice, tough reels. One night in Chicago after playing these reels for Mary Flaherty, an Irish music-lover from Connemara, she said, "You really ought to put those on your new record, you know". We agreed, and have named them after Mary, as we've heard two names for the first reel, Lady Ann Montgomery and Lady Ann McGregor and we have no name for the second reel which we heard from Seamus Begley.
The Dear Little Isle — Seamus Begley is also the source for the title song of this album, The Dear Little Isle. We first met Seamus in Chicago, where we live, and then back in Feonagh, County Kerry where he lives. Seamus plays the button-accordion and sings in Irish and English. He's a fine musician and you could hear him on a soft summer's night in An Cuine in Feonagh or on a cold winter's night in Chicago or St. Paul. Pat Diamond, from Connemara volunteered the last verse of The Dear Little Isle, one night in Chicago. The song was Pat's "party piece" and he got the last verse from a friend back home.
The Star of the County Down, has long been a favorite in the taverns and clubs we play around this country, as well as the pubs we play in Ireland. We learned it from Pat Hill, native of County Tipperary, now living in St. Paul, Minnesota. If you have either of our other records, you already know of Pat; but for those of you who don't, suffice _ it to say he's a great collector of Irish songs. Pat is now seventy-seven years old and still singing, collecting, and writing songs.
Kerry Slides and Polkas — Cuz is another musician in his seventies' who has given us scores of tunes and songs. Cuz, Terence P. Teahan, is from Glountain, County Kerry and now resides in Chicago. He played at dances and weddings around Chicago for years, he's recently come out of retirement to make some records and pass along the Kerry music he plays with such style and vigor. The first two slides of this selection are from Cuz, The Lonesome Road to Dingle and The Barrel Organ. The polkas are from the other Kerryman we spoke of above, Seamus Begley.
England's Viet Nam, is a modern song written out of the war in what remains of Ulster. It might best be described as an Irish, country-western, rebel song. I've often wondered if in future years people might misunderstand the chorus and think we're singing about men who predict the weather making too free, which is also true, but has no bearing on this particular song.
Far Away in Australia is a lovely song on a sad theme, immigration. It makes a great old-time waltz in case any of you feel like dancing.
In the event any of you are in the humour for laughing, we've included a great comic song that Cuz heard from his mother, The Tanglediony.
Tom Dahill's Fiddle — Barbara dances on this recording, to a hornpipe composed by Cuz, entitled Tom Dahill's Fiddle. Cuz made this tune for Tom and for Pat Hill who gave his fiddle to Tom. The tune could be called the St. Paul Fiddle, since, the fiddle was playing Irish music in St. Paul, long before Tom or Pat, as an old fiddler gave it to Pat nearly fifty years ago.
The True Lovers' Discussion is another song Pat Hill sang for us that he heard his grandmother singing. Chuck found an old book about this song that said, "The True Lovers Discussion became popular again in the 1880's".
Love's a Tormenting Pain Medley — Our source for the first two airs in this medley is Edward Bunting's book about the harp music of Ireland entitled, The Ancient Music of Ireland, first published in 1796. Love's a Tormenting Pain, is an old air credited to W. Connallon, 1670. Planxty Connor was composed by the great blind composer, Turlough O'Carolan.
Our source for the next three tunes, Sweet Biddy Daly, The Contradiction reel, and The Reconciliation reel, is Pat "Packie" Flannagan. Pat was born of Irish parents in Chicago and the family then returned to Tourmakeady, County Mayo when Pat was six years old. In Ireland Pat took up the button-accordion and learned to read and write music. He immigrated to Chicago years later and played on the radio and at the dances. Pat can be heard playing with us on our last record, Mom's Favorite Irish Music in America on Biscuit City Records (BC1308). He now lives in Denver and plays with his family for virtually all of the Irish functions in Colorado.
So, those are the songs and tunes on this record and we hope you enjoy them.