Follow us on Facebook/Twitter


Join our 12,000 Twitter Followers and 14,000 Facebook friends

Music At the Heart of Ireland’s Renewal

Sean Kay, a professor and chair of the international relations program at Ohio Wesleyan University is the author of the recently released book Celtic Revival? The Rise, Fall, and Renewal of Global Ireland.

This March I had a tough choice to make – play our annual St. Patrick’s Day gig here in Ohio – always fun – or accept an invitation to the White House annual event. After several years of research and writing Celtic Revival? The Rise, Fall and Renewal of Global Ireland, this was an exciting invite so an easy choice. On meeting Glen Hansard, I jokingly told him “I gave up a good gig for this, so it had better be good!” Needless to say, it was. So were those two fellows jamming in the corner – Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill.

Connemara mountains – heaven on earth

During the final push on the manuscript I about wore out my discs of Danu, Sharon Shannon, and the Brock-McGuire band. Oddly enough, though, during my summer of interviews in 2010, it seemed no matter where I went in Ireland the song “Hey Soul Sister” by Train was in the air. More intimate, though, was a drive with my daughter over the Connemara mountains – as we ventured out we saw a road sign that said “Stop and Pray” – but we didn’t have to. As we had crossed the peak, in the cloud, Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” came on the radio – if there was heaven on earth it was there, that day on that mountain in Ireland.

Anthem for Ireland

Sinead O,Connor sang 'The Times, They are A-‘Changin’ – became an instant anthem for Ireland Leah-Pritchard

Sinead O’Connor

Dylan resurfaces in the book – as Ireland’s great voice Sinead O’Connor has redone the classic “The Times, They are A-‘Changin’” – debuted as an instant anthem for Ireland’s current experiences on the Late Late Show in spring 2010.

Ireland is today undergoing an enormous crisis – a loss of its money, its confidence in politics, and a deep crisis in the Catholic church. But Ireland is also embarked on a renewal – with a new sense of public engagement in their own destiny; embracing multiculturalism; striving to not just make peace, but to build peace in Northern Ireland; and setting a model for the world in its foreign policy.

The Irish are facing their challenges head on – and lifted again by the artists.

Ireland’s musicians at the forefront of change

Ireland’s musicians have always been at the forefront of change. Now, the things that Sinead O’Connor had to say about abuse in the Catholic church 20 years ago are common discourse in the nation today. As she said to me in an interview, as to her emergence as a major global voice now on the Church scandal she said: “I wanted to be sure that when I meet my maker, that it can’t be said that the artists didn’t care.” Each Irish person has a role to play in what former Taoiseach John Bruton said to me would be the “million small steps” that will move the nation forward again.

Frances Black goal – ‘change the face of Ireland’

Also leading here is the singer Frances Black, who has established a foundation for alcohol and drug abuse recovery. She said to me that her goal is to literally “change the face of Ireland.”

In November 2010, Frances Black joined a major protest of the government and the economic crisis in Dublin declaring: “We are saying, ‘We’ve had enough!’” –and voicing that, “It’s legal to rip of a million or two – that comes from the labor that other folks do. To plunder the many on behalf of the few, is a thing that is perfectly legal.”

Christy Moore joined the stage and bemoaned the long line of leaders who had failed the Irish people performing “Connolly Was There” and shouting to 75,000 people at the end: “The system doesn’t work!”

Strangely absent from the Irish renewal is U2. Their songs like “Running to Stand Still” gave voice to the pain many felt in parts of Ireland in the 1980s. Today, though, they are seen as having had nothing to say about their countrymen’s situation while relocating around the world and taking tax money to the Netherlands.

Ireland’s renewal

Ireland’s renewal is really about the triumph of the human spirit. Ireland will be back – on a different footing, but it will be back.

The artists –from the busker on the street to the voices of its famous have a role to play in reminding the world that art and music and the soul that lives on in the great traditions of Irish culture will lift the spirits of humanity towards a better place.

Written by Guest writer

We hope you enjoyed this article. We’re constantly adding new articles so why not bookmark our blog home page and come back to see our new posts! Blog News Home Page

Check out more stories on Irish Music Daily

George Donaldson Street Team exceeds fund-raising target
Down to earth father of 1D star refuses son’s money
Fundraiser for Keith Harkin’s favourite charity
George Donaldson – why fans wanted to help his family
Dolores on her battle with cancer and booze
Irish rock legend speaks about his demons
Young Irish talent begins to shine
Star Wars wedding for The Wanted star
CT creator holds auditions for new band
Folk stars Villagers scoop Irish album award
Sinead O’Connor to renew her wedding vows
Dylan appears in Chrysler’s SuperBowl advert
Why Ireland is number one for Garth Brooks
Keith Duffy’s splash for cash
U2 scoop Golden Globe award for Mandela song
Line up for TradFest 2014 revealed
Bono hopes to get better and better
Wire creator set to make Pogues musical
Last Call – Mary Black farewell world tour
Choirs gather for world record attempt in Dublin
Charity single races up Irish charts
Connolly got punched defending Christy Moore
Cranberries star sings for the Pope at the Vatican
Bono: personal tribute to Nelson Mandela
Jagger a great-granddad – don’t call him granpa
Museum to honour 1D star Niall Horan
Justin Timberlake’s Auld Triangle splits the fans
Lonely Sinead prefers America to Ireland
Councillors keep hold of Van Morrison tickets

New PVC look for Sinead’s new album
Auditions for Irish stage show receives worldwide interest
Singers hit back at critics after weight slurs against Tara Erraught
Spotify playlist that could save lives
Fans raise money for George Donaldson’s daughter
Paul Simon and wife cleared of disorderly conduct
Damian McGinty set for solo US tour
U2 echo Beatles with rooftop gig
Sinead on ‘danger’ that made her shave head
Dropkick star helps fight against substance abuse
Bono says U2 are becoming irrelevant
McGinty and Carlin represent Derry
Magic Pie, would you like a Roll With It?
Rock star poses for pics at Dublin wedding
Enya’s in the money despite no new album
Bono busks Dublin on Christmas Eve
Fairytale of New York ‘special’ for Coronation St
Niall Horan to learn guitar from Stones legend
Chieftains to give master class in Irish music
Susan Boyle bullied after incorrect diagnosis
Irish teens hit #1 with tribute to teacher
U2 felt pressure on Mandela song
Ronan: "Tour after Gately’s death was mistake"
Irish star is Britain’s 3rd most influential Tweeter
Irish Spanish musical set in 16th century Ireland
Paul Byrom private concert

Sign up for Ireland Calling Newsletter
Once you have filled in the form, you should receive a confirmation email which you will need to click. Please check your junk mail folder in case it gets sent there.

powered by MailChimp!

Check our archive for great stories

Slap on the wrist for Bono over handshake
Cranberries star joins The Voice
Sinead turns her fury on Simon Cowell
James Galway's lifetime achievement award
Sinéad O’Connor hits back at Miley Cyrus
Sinéad’s ‘motherly’ warning to Miley Cyrus
Celtic Thunder -the kings of Social Media
Barney McKenna – genius and great man
The Dubliners' Barney McKenna dies aged 72
All the Way Home – Cathy Jordan
Folk &rock stars play Rory Gallagher Festival
International stars at the Temple Bar TradFest
Join in open trad sessions at Temple Bar
Mary Black Stories from the Steeples Review
Why do we love Fairytale of New York

Paul Byrom – Kickstarter for PBS Music special
Paul Byrom – raising money for a PBS special
Anuna: Behind a Fan’s Eyes
Irish trad sessions – sharing music and the craic
Festivals in Ireland
Irish American dream set to hit the road
Irish piano students make a big impact
Padraig Lalor – Ismay’s Dream
Arlene Faith – Spirit of the Celtic Violin
New album by Celtic Tenors – Feels Like Home
Van Morrison – the ten million airplays man
Death of Bert Jansch – inspirational folk guitarist
Times Past from JH – melodic, thoughtful songs
How Ralph McTell twisted my fingers
Online social forum for Irish traditional musicians

More great blog posts on Irish Music Daily

Loud earphones damaging children’s ears
Chasing the American Dream
Royal Opera House goes Gaelic
Irish singer Bob Geldof leads Live8
Music At the Heart of Ireland’s Renewal
Tara O’Grady’s magical fusion of jazz and folk
Ireland’s new Musical World Champions
Supporting Magdalene survivors
Magdalene charity video

Christmas bonus for MacGowan from Fairytale
Martin Hayes concert
Michael William Balfe – Ireland’s Mozart
‘Minstrel Boy’ writer Thomas Moore
Tara O’Grady – Irish music fused with jazz
Moonrakers – Celtic music that ‘oozes quality’
Gaelic Harmony
Calling musicians from Ireland’s 32 counties
Singer Oonagh Cassidy joins our video showcase

Great stories on the Irish Music Daily blog

Brendan O’Loughlin – Irish singer-songwriter
A listener’s guide to Irish song
Showcase your videos on our website
Derry wants to host Irish music festival
Singing in Irish – The Sean-nós tradition
Singing in Irish: yes – it’s a language
Fureys take mother’s advice
Kate Bush turns to Irish novelist James Joyce

Irish composers honoured by music academy
Did Wild Rover have a raunchy English cousin?
Irish singer Geldof honoured by Israeli university
When Ronan Met Burt album released
The Dubliners – flying the flag for Irish music
Is the Wild Rover an anti-drinking song?
The folk hero appeal of Whiskey in the Jar
When Ronan Met Burt

Elsewhere on Irish Music Daily

Bob Dylan tops the bill at Irish music festival
Singer Christy Moore backs forest campaign
Fields of Athenry – Irish song and football anthem
Dropkick Murphys evoke wild Irish wake
Ronan Keating to release Bacharach songs
Dubliners take a breather ahead of next tour
Dropkick Murphys back workers
BBC documentary on Irish rock band Thin Lizzy

Frankie Gavin Up Close and Personal
Irish songwriter sets Mandela speech to music
Gary Moore – An Irish music legend
Classic Irish fiddle music straight from the kitchen
What The Dubliners really drank back stage…
How Raglan Road came to be written
The death of Gerry Rafferty
Oh no…Hitler was a fan of Irish music