Padraig Lalor – Ismay’s Dream

Padraig Lalor
Padraig Lalor

Padraig Lalor is a singer songwriter from Northern Ireland who has been working closely over the last few years with top performers like The Dubliners and Finbar Furey.

Ismay’s Dream is his debut album … and what a debut it is!

This is a great piece of work and one of the most engaging albums I’ve heard for a long time.

All 10 songs take their inspiration from the story of the Titanic, which was built in Lalor’s home town of Belfast. Each song describes an incident or a character linked to the ill-fated ship.

Strong stories set to instantly appealing melodies

All the songs reveal Lalor’s gift as a storyteller, with intriguing lyrics woven around instantly appealing melodies that stick in the mind after just one hearing.

This is a quick rundown of the tracks:

Beal Feirste-Belfast
Beal Feirst comes from the Irish meaning “mouth of the sandbars”. It became anglicised to give the city its modern name of Belfast.

Beal Feirste’s wrath – the opening track introduces the shipworkers at Harlaand and Woolf, the company that built the Titanic. The men work hard in a tough job and this being Belfast , there is always the spectre of political and religious difference – the kind of divisions “no rivets or steel, could ever heal”.

62 Seconds – refers to the time it took for Titanic to leave Belfast Lough on its epic ill-fated journey. It may have only taken 62 seconds to leave but it took 90 years for Belfast to come to terms with what happened.

1911 Walkout – the shipbuilders supported the linen workers when they walked out in protest at dangerous conditions and low wages. Harsh conditions meant average life expectancy for women in the linen factories was only 45.

Two lovers on opposite sides of the divide

Latitude 51 – the story of two lovers on opposite sides of the religious divide. They met in secret at Strangford Lough. Their love was frowned on in Belfast so they booked a passage on the Titanic to escape prejudice and build a new life in America. Of course, they never made it.

Thimbleful of the Western Wind – reflective song on trying to heal old wounds and misunderstandings.

Two Pennies – the poignant story of a father who gave his two sons a penny each for them to keep for luck until he returned after working as an assistant deck engineer on the Titanic. Half a century later, one of the sons sees the pennies in a drawer and the memories of his father come flooding back.

Close Your Eyes – the heart rending story of a mother comforting her children after the shipwreck, and wrapping her shawl around them “to keep them together as they pass from one life to another”

The unsinkable Molly Brown

Molly Brown
Molly Brown

Molly Brown – the “unsinkable Molly Brown” survived the shipwreck and worked tirelessly to rescue others. She was one of the few survivors who tried to make the lifeboats turn back to rescue those left abandoned in the water.

Jerome Burke – the man who put a message in a bottle to say goodbye to his family as the ship went down. The bottle washed up 14 months later in the very parish the man had left behind in Ireland.

Ismay’s Dream – imagine being J Bruce Ismay – the chairman of the White Star Line, the shipping company that commissioned the Titantic. This song reflects on the way Ismay was hounded by the press and haunted in his own mind for the tragedy of the Titanic. “I’m to live the nightmare that was born out of my dream.”

This is a very enjoyable album. All the more impressive for being Lalor’s first. I don’t think it will be his last. Great stories, great melodies and fine performances from Lalor and the band!

For more information – visit Padraig Lalor’s site.

By Patrick Kehoe

Pat Kehoe is a writer for Irish Music Daily. His favourite Irish music bands are the Dubliners and Planxty.