Brackagh Hill — A song of love: Love between people and love for a place. Brackagh is a small town in Co. Tyrone near the shores of Lough Neagh.
In the Land of the Patagarang — This song was inspired by The Fatal Shore' Robert Hughes' history of the settlement of Australia with English and Irish convicts. You may notice some slang from the period here, for which thanks again to Mr. Hughes. A Patagarang is an Aboriginal word for a kangaroo, and 'impersonating an Egyptian, or posing as a gypsy, was a crime in the eighteenth century, for which, at the whim of some bewigged Justice, you could find yourself sailing in chains for the land of the Patagarang.
Forgotten Hero — Michael Davitt was born in Straide Co. Mayo in 1846. His family was evicted in his earliest years and he went to work in a Lancashire cotton mill at the age of nine, losing his right arm in a Doffing engine accident when he was just eleven years old. Imprisoned in brutal circumstances in 1870, his health was permanently impaired. He founded the Land League in 1879 and in the land war that followed, he organised the tenant farmers to defy their landlords for the first time. Through his life, Davitt was driven by a sense of justice for the common man and though dogged by poverty and misfortune, he never waivered from his principles or gave way to bitterness. In his last will he wrote:
To all my friends I leave kind thoughts, to my enemies, the fullest possible forgiveness and to Ireland an undying prayer for the absolute freedom and independence which it was my life's ambition to try and obtain for her.
He died in Dublin in 1906 and is buried in Straide.
Strokestown — Built on a crossroad, Strokestown in Co. Roscommon was said to have the widest streets in Ireland. It is my father's hometown.
The King of Ballyhooley — Heard on the radio many years ago, sung by a man from Donegal in which county this particular Ballyhooley is situated. I am greatly indebted to an old friend, Johnny Moynihan, who is largely responsible for the song's current shape.