Ed Sheeran upsets trad fans with rendition of Raglan Road

Ed Sheeran upsets trad fans with rendition of Raglan Road

Ed Sheeran has attracted some unwanted attention from Irish fans after he performed a cover of Raglan Road.

The red-haired songwriter was a guest on BBC music’s new year’s show, Jools’ Annual Hootenanny 2021.

It was hosted by legendary piano player Jools Holland and Sheeran was one of several musicians to perform during the broadcast.

However, few other performances divided opinion like that of Sheeran as he tackled one of Ireland’s favourite songs alongside singer Joy Crookes.

Raglan Road is as close as it gets to a sacred manuscript when it comes to traditional Irish music.

The words were written by legendary Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh and was originally named Dark Haired Miriam Ran Away.

The story goes that a late night drinking session involving Kavanagh and Dubliners singer Luke Kelly resulted in the poem being turned into a song.

It was decided that the words to Dark Haired Miriam Ran Away would fit well to the melody of another Irish song called, Fainne Gael an Lae.

Kelly was given Kavanagh’s blessing to perform the song in his shows and it quickly became a favourite on the trad circuit, under the name Raglan Road.

Its close association with two of Ireland’s most talented and loved artists has meant Raglan Road holds a special place in the hearts of most folk music fans.

Unfortunately for Ed Sheeran, his duet of the song with Joy Crookes as part of the New Year 2022 celebrations has not gone down well with trad fans.

The YouTube video of the performance has attracted numerous comments, with most being critical of Ed and his co-stars’ performance.

Many joked that Anglo-Irish relations had been damaged, while others didn’t even try to say something clever or witty and just went straight in for the kill.

Not everyone was so critical.

Sheeran is a popular figure in Ireland and has always spoken about his own pride at his Celtic heritage. He won the favour of many fans when he sang his own song Thinking Out Loud in the Irish language.  His song Nancy Mulligan tells the story of how his grandparents met in Ireland many years ago in another nod to his Irish family history.

However, Sheeran appears to have overstepped the mark with his version of an Irish folk classic and fans are not ready to let him off the hook just yet.

Take a look for yourself and see what you think.

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By Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore is a writer for Irish Music Daily and Ireland Calling. His favourite Irish music bands are the Dropkick Murphys and the Pogues.