Mandolin Mountain — I first met Tony Small In 1969. Over the years we hooked up regularly. Tony knew the inside of songs. Listening to Mandolin Mountain in 2012 we did not realise that it would be his last recording. Each time I sing this song I sense that Tony is close by.
The Tuam Beat — This is a joyful song to sing. Each verse a story in itself. Jimmy Higgins tuned me into the songs of Pádraig Stevens. Both of them have worked with The Saw Doctors. Good Man Lads.
The Gardener — Paul Doran performed with Moving Hearts at The Baggot Inn back in 1981. Later we wrote and recorded the theme song for the "Self Aid" gig of 1984. His song "Natives" was on the 1987 album "Unfinished Revolution". Some years back he sent me "The Gardener". I struggled to sing it until last year's UK Tour when it finally fell into place. A beautiful song to sing from this fine songsmith … Paul Doran, the Bard of Ballybrack.
Lily — I grew up in County Kildare between 1945 and 1963. Early images of Newbridge remain crystal clear in my mind. Since then it has expanded, ten fold, to become a dormitory town to the Nation's Capital. I have tried to write a song about a place that still exists, if only in my mind. It's an old song that was written recently.
Wallflower — Across the years I have enjoyed singing songs from across the water. Heading to play Glastonbury in 2015 I sought to sing a local song. We worked hard to get "Wallflower" ready for the great event. But when the night arrived I flunked the challenge and reached instead for some hoary chestnut. Now I feel ready to sing this powerful song from Peter Gabriel.
Oblivious — I first heard Mick Blake at a concert in Vicar Street, Dublin in Oct 2014. He joined us that night to raise funds for the Middle East Children's Alliance. Since then we have shared songs. Recently I heard "Oblivious" via the Rossport "Shell to Sea" album. I first sang this song in Ballina Co. Mayo, where it received a mixed reception. A true modern day Bard, Mick writes and sings in the manner of the old ballad singers who sang their songs, sold their ballad sheets carrying news and alternative perspectives from Town to Town.
Ballad of Patrick Murphy — This is my fifth time to record a John Spillane song. Sometimes we collaborate and we keep in touch along this job of journeywork. On July 4th 2015 I performed "Pat Murphy" at The Marquee in Cork. In the audience that night were Wacker and Frick Murphy, two of Patrick Murphy's grandsons. They sailed up the River Lee from Passage West to attend the concert. Afterwards they shared stories of their Grandfather's life and times and we remembered how he lived and died upon the river. Then back aboard their boat for a moonlit voyage back down to Passage West and a few pints before closing time.
Lightning, Bird, Wind, River Man — Declan O'Rourke was a revelation when he played before Planxty on our 2004 reunion gigs in Vicar St. Dublin. Since that time he has written many fine songs that have been covered the world over. Last year in West Clare we spotted a poster for Kennys Music Pub in Lahinch, "Live Tonight-Declan O'Rourke". We had a great night listening to him as he weaved his tapestry of songs. When he sang "Lightning" I loved it straight away. The following morning I called him and he gave me the all-clear. Long may his melodies reverberate.
Green Grows The Laurel — In 1967 John "Jacko" Reilly recorded a set of songs for Tom Munnelly. These were subsequently released by Topic records on John's remarkable album "The Bonny Green Tree". I heard him sing this song back in 1965 but did not hear it again until Helen Grehan performed it at a concert in Boyle in June 2014. That concert raised funds towards a memorial plaque to commemorate John's life and time in Boyle. It can be seen on The Square, Boyle, Co. Roscommon. At that concert Helen's rendition of this song stilled the night. In subsequent months, and with Helen's encouragement, I began to engage with it. I added a verse (something I had done previously with John's "Lord Baker" and with his "Raggle Taggle Gypsy") and gradually fell under the spell of yet another one of John Reilly's beautiful ancient ballads.
Lost Tribe of The Wicklow Mountains — In April 2013 we joined a great throng in Avondale Co. Wicklow. "Save Our Forests" was a collective who sought, successfully, to prevent the proposed sell-off of our National Forests. In that beautiful vale, the Cork Poet Dave Lordan read this piece. Since then I have been trying to perform it. After 3 years foostering I felt it was time to sing or get off the pot … Shine On Dave Lordan. The Hanging Baskets are still in bloom and there's more than Puddings in Clonakilty.
This collection has been gleaned, in the main, from the work of other writers. In most cases, it has been possible to collaborate with the writers and to gain their blessing. The Lyrics are written here as I sing them, thus the absence of punctuation.