ABOUT THE COVER
The photographs on this sleeve were taken at Newgrange in Co. Meath, known to the ancient Irish as 'Brú-na-Boinne' (Brú on the Boyne), the legendary burial ground of the pagan kings. It is one of the most important prehistoric monuments in the world, far older than the pyramids in Egypt and predating Stonehenge by at least a thousand years.
FOLK MUSIC AND BALLAD POETRY IN IRELAND
In Ireland we have one of the richest stores of folk music and ballad poetry in the world, indeed for a country of its size it is remarkable the amount of music that has spread forth from this little land. I think this probably due to the fact that music played such an important role in Irish Society throughout the ages. It is reputed to have been introduced by the Tuatha Da Dannan, embraced by the later Celtic people and blossomed during the many centuries of the Gaelic order. Then during the period of rule from England it enjoyed mixed fortunes. It had great popularity in England during the reign of Elizabeth. The Earl of Worchester writes to Earl of Shrewsbury, 9/9/1602 "We are frolic here in court, much dancing in privy chambers of country dances before the Queens Majesty, who is exceedingly pleased therewith. Irish tunes are at this time most pleasing". Then came the time when English law outlawed the bard and finally destroyed them.
In a lot of cases the song has survived but the lips that first sang them were silenced forever. A lot of our bards were murdered during the troubled times of the 17th & 18th century. It was then made treason for our people to write or sing about his country. But our bards wrote beautiful songs referring to Ireland as "My Dark Rosaleen", the "Seán Bhean Bhocht" and "Coolin" to quote just a few. In the 18th & 19th century the ballad became an important part in the resistance against the oppressor and the street ballad singer became the new bard of the Irish people.
The Irish ballad covered almost every conceivable subject — politics, religion, war, shipwreck, in fact the whole range of creation sun, moon, stars, skies earth and all the peoples and creatures that live on it. The ballad singer would often enquire of his audience on what subject they would like him to sing: a love song, love and murder, a rale ould Irish (meaning a rebel song) a controversial or a sea song. Well we have only a limited amount of space on this album but we have tried to give you a sample of Irish Ballad Music.
Give me the makings of peoples ballads and I care not who makes their law. This the wisdom of Fletcher of Saltoun an ancient philosopher. It was never more exemplified than in the case of Ireland, her nationality has been preserved by the aid of her ballads. Seeing what they have accomplished may we not safely say that music and song are the soul of the country and the "Spirit of the Nation".