As the run in to St Patrick’s Day gathers pace we have asked some of our favourite Irish singers and musicians to tell us their favourite songs to mark Ireland’s national day.
Niamh Ní Charra was recently named Female Musician of the Year for 2014 at the Live Ireland Music Awards. Here she talks us through her choices.
Harry’s Game, Clannad
Released in 1982 this was originally the theme song to a Yorkshire TV series based on the Troubles in the north. The TV series didn’t get a great critical reception but the song became a huge hit in Ireland for weeks. It also reached #5 in the UK charts and 40 years later, is still the only song in the British charts to be completely in Irish. I remember it from when it was used on the film Patriot Games in the 90s, and it has always haunted me.
Paddy’s Lamentation, Niamh Ní Charra
This song has also stayed with me from when I first heard it, telling the story of the Irish who fought in the American Civil War.
Cailleach an Airgid (The Hag with the Money)
A song in Irish this time, this is very much associated with the Galway area where my father grew up, and it’s a song that’s very much tongue in cheek. The melody is often played as a jig by itself too.
Knocknaboul Polkas, Niamh Ní Charra
Coming as I do from the Sliabh Luachra area of Kerry, an area long associated with slides and polkas and the set dancing that goes with them, it would be very remiss of me not to include a set of each on this list. I have grown up playing polkas, and this is a set mainly on concertina that I love playing.
The Lonesome Road to Dingle
A set of slides, to go with the polkas above, this set is from my latest album “Cuz”, which was a tribute to a local man who emigrated to Chicago in the 1920s, and who I met just before he died. The last tune in this set is one of my own, composed in his honour.
So there they are, in no particular order. Apart from the Clannad track, the rest are of me playing and feature a song in Irish, a song in English, a set of polkas on concertina, and a set of Slides on fiddle (with Donal Murphy of 4 Men and a Dog fame as guest musician).