A Long Time Ago — "The older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune." we're kicking it off with this old theme in a new song about a bunch of roving men still singing and rambling after 40 years. You don't see too many of them around anymore, do you?
Toor-I-Ah — Irreverent songs are always the most fun to sing, and this is certainly one of them. -fun to sing that is. You may have guessed that there are several more verses to this song, but they're best kept for those Saturday night kitchen parties, when the wee ones have gone to bed.
The Girls Along the Road — A woman scorned and her carefree husband sounds like a recipe for disaster, and it is. This song comes from around the Cullybackey area of Co. Antrim and learnt from the singing of John Kennedy.
Botany Bay — Yes, it's time for the sing-along and simple it is too. A tale of woe concerning those poor, innocent Irish convicts who were transported to the penal colonies of Tasmania, in Australia. They were subjected to extremely harsh conditions such as terrible food, little water, relentless sunshine and cruel treatment from the guards...and that was only on the trip over!
New York Girls — Ah yes, the work on those old sailing ships was hard so it was, but the shore leaves were even harder.
Coulter's Candy — Years ago, in Glasgow, Robert Coltart made and sold his sweeties around the streets. He sang this chorus to alert the children of his arrival, prompting the weans to beg, borrow or steal a penny from their mammies. We recorded this wee song on our first album which we called oddly enough, "the first of the Irish rovers".
The Maid of Coolmore — Here's Joe with a lovely old ballad of unrequited love from the north of Ireland.
Kelly the Boy from Killann — One of the leaders of the 1798 rebellion was John Kelly from Killann in the co. Wexford. He and fellow united Irishmen from the boroughs of Bargy, Forth and Shelmalier won many battles in the co. Wexford before meeting defeat at new ross. John Kelly was badly wounded and like his counterpart from the north of Ireland Roddy McCorely, was later captured and hung by the British.
The Mingulay Boat Song — Sailors who plough the waters between the outer and inner Hebrides called the Minch, experience some of the roughest conditions in the world. Mingulay is the largest island in the outer Hebrides.
The Little Skillet Pot — Anyone reared in Ireland will be familiar with colcannon a dish consisting of potatoes and cabbage mashed together, and a mixture of warm milk and butter poured on tor if you were lucky enough to have any leftover ham, (not likely) it could be added as well. In the north of Ireland we called it "champ". Irish cuisine at its best.
Dunluce Castle — Dunluce castle was built in the early 1300's by Richard Deburgh, the red earl of ulster. Sorely boy MacDonnell seized it from the McQuillan's in 1560 and it became the stronghold for the MacDonnell can. An ideal defensive fortress against marauding armies from and or sea, Dunluce fell victim to a north Antrim storm in 1639 which collapsed part of the castle, sending many to their doom.
The Wild Colonial Boy — The saga of outlaw jack Duggan who left Ireland at a young age and sailed off to Australia, where he became an infamous "bush ranger". Required singing for any Irishman.
Home from the Sea — The idea for this song came from a wonderful painting my brother will has called "home from the sea." painted by W.H. Midwood in 1873, it depicts a young sailors homecoming with his wife and children. It's always been one of my favourites.
The Bold O'Donahue — Here's a jaunty little song learnt from old friend Tommy Makem, about a brash young Irishman adept at fiddling and courting, with a high degree in the fine art of blarney.
Avondale — Avondale near Rathdrum in the co. Wicklow, is the birthplace of Charles Stewart Parnell who was one of the founders of the Irish national land league, and a strong exponent for Irish democracy.
The Recruiting Sergeant — Many's the young Irishman has been taken in by the smooth-talking recruiters and ended up fighting in some foreign war they knew nothing about but not all of them.
No Man's Land — A powerful anti-war song written by eric bogle. One of his finest.
Give Me Your Hand (Tabhair Dom Do Lamh) — This wonderful melody was composed by the Belfast harper Rory Dall O'Cathain around 1603.
Hall Away Joe — We begin the "live" section with a short-drag shanty. These songs were sung aboard the old-time sailing ships to help ease the grueling work.
Valparaiso Round the Horn — Here's a capstan shanty with a great chorus. Join the crew.
The Black Velvet Band — Wrongly accused and sent to Van Dieman's land for seven years, and this poor fellow is still singing her praises. Ah the love lorn.
Kellswater — Since Joe didn't get to sing a verse in the last song, we'll let him sing this one himself. This is Joe's most requested song over the years and is from the village of Kells near our hometown of Ballymena co. Antrim.
The Unicorn — We couldn't very well do a 40th anniversary cd without the "wee song" that started it all for us, all those years ago. Heres' a live version of it.
Wasn't That A Party — I'm sure that some of you have had the odd occasion to commiserate with these little words, "it could have been the whiskey, it might have been the gin" … I know that we have.
The Drunken Sailor — Hopefully this'll leave you singing and dancing till the next time, so "kick up yer heels and let 'er go".