The Echo Mocks the Corncrake — The corncrake is a bird whose mechanical-sounding call was once a common sound throughout rural Scotland, but is now found only in parts of the Western Isles. I first heard this song at family ceilidhs when I was a child and loved its spirit. It extols the virtue and worth of a simple life close to nature and the land.
Island of Sorrows — This song refers to Sarah Curran who was engaged to the Irish patriot Robert Emmet. Emmet was captured and hanged in Dublin for his part in the failed insurrection against the English in 1803. Sarah Curran later became the wife of an officer who took her to Sicily hoping that travel would restore her spirits. Alas, her grief for the martyred Emmet was so great she died of a broken heart.
The Gaberlunzieman — This delightful old song is said to have been penned by the "Merry Monarch," King James V, father of Mary Queen of Scots. It is said that he would disguise himself as a poor man and go out amongst the common people. He was reputed to be a skillful musician and prolific poet although the Gaberlunzieman may be all that survived of his writings. A gaberlunzieman, or travelling mechanic, would mend and make articles of everyday necessity for the people he encountered as he travelled the country.
The Man in the Moon — This song, a recent composition, is extremely moving in the way that it interconnects the human spirit, the land, and the seasons.
Kathy-Anne's Waltz — This tune is for my wife.
Listen to the People — Have you ever wondered if politicians carry out the will of the people or carry out their own agenda despite it?
Sweet King Williams Town — I learned this song from the singing of Cára Dillon, a great young singer from Northern Ireland. It is an
The Errant Apprentice — This bizarre tale was written by my old pal and sparring partner, Bill Watkins.
MacGregor's Gathering — Much has been written on the trials, tribulations, heros and history of this ancient clan. This song deals with the family's darkest hour during their "proscription" by the government. Proscription meant that it was a capital crime merely to admit to having the surname MacGregor. In addition, lands held by the clan for many generations were forfeited to the government. This song is dedicated to my mother.
The Lakes of Pontchartrain — Lake Pontchartrain is in Louisiana, USA, just to the north of New Orleans. This song, which I believe dates from the time of the American Civil War, has long been a favourite of mine.
The Land O' The Leal — For many years this song was mistakenly thought to be the work of Robert Burns until it finally emerged that it was written by Lady Nairne. Lady Nairne was descended from an old Jacobite family from Perthshire and had written many fine songs in favour of the exiled Stuarts. She was extremely modest and preferred to publish her songs anonymously. The "Land O' the Leal" in the context of this song, means Heaven.
Andy M. Stewart