#Poetry Wed: “On Raglan Road” by Patrick Kavanagh & The Dubliners Video

“On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue;
I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way,
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.

On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion’s pledge,
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay –
O I loved too much and by such and such is happiness thrown away.

I gave her gifts of the mind I gave her the secret sign that’s known
To the artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint. I did not stint for I gave her poems to say.
With her own name there and her own dark hair like clouds over fields of May

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had wooed not as I should a creature made of clay –
When the angel woos the clay he’d lose his wings at the dawn of day.”

The Dubliners’ Luke Kelly sings “Raglan Road” after describing Patrick Kavanagh’s gift of the poem for the now well known Irish song…

Haiku Book Review: The Dead

The Dead is a short story in The Dubliners by James Joyce. You can hear an audio version recorded by my Irish husband over at Librivox. Following is a haiku I wrote after recently re-reading the story:

The Dead by James Joyce

Snow on his shoulders
Gathering, his heart bestirred
Her secret sorrow

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Damien Dempsey: The Rocky Road

Irish singer-songwriter Damien Dempsey is a smart man. Instead of trying to top or even replicate last year’s insanely brilliant To Hell Or Barbados – which at my second favorite album of 2007 – Dempsey went in a completely different direction for his fifth studio album The Rocky Road. A collection of eleven traditional and contemporary Irish covers, the album features guests John Sheahan and Barney McKenna of The Dubliners and serves as tribute to Irish singers like Christy Moore, Pecker Dunne, Frank Harte, Luke Kelly, and Shane McGowan of The Pogues. Damien’s deep, melodic voice is perfectly suited to these classic tunes.

then off to reap the corn, leave where I was born
cut a stout black thorn to banish ghost & goblins
me brand new pair of brogues I rattled o’er the bogs
& frightened all the dogs on the rocky road to Dublin

In addition to singing lead vocal, Dempsey plays guitar, banjo, and bouzouki. Sheahan lends his fiddle to the album, while McKenna contributes banjo and mandolin. Both provide backing vocals. Sharon Shannon and other musicians toss in fiddle, whistle, flute, bodhrán, harmonium, and other traditional Irish instruments.

My favorite version of “Rocky Road To Dublin” is the high octane Celtic Punk twist by Dropkick Murphys. But the rhythmic title track to Damo’s album is definitely my favorite of the more traditional takes. A soulful vocal on Ewan MacColl’s “Schooldays Over” is followed by a beautiful rendition of The Pogues’ “A Rainy Night In Soho”.

Damien’s a cappella performance of “The Twang Man” is so powerful and resonant that I think the entire album would be even more captivating without any musical accompaniment at all. His hearty vocal of the Wexford rebellion anthem “Kelly From Killian” merges with the livelier instrumental “The Teetotaler”, while the moody “Hackler From Grouse Hall” is paired with “The Monaghan Jig”.

It would be difficult for even the weakest of voices to mar the timeless “The Foggy Dew”, but the astounding potency of Dempsey’s vocal grants the haunting classic even more integrity and beauty. The mandolin steals the spotlight on the lovely “Night Visiting Song”, and a subdued but hypnotic rendering of “Madam I’m A Darlin'” serves as the album’s finale.

the bravest feel & the requiem bell rang mournfully & clear
for those who died at the Eastertide in the spring time of the year
the world did gaze with deep amaze at those fearless men, but few
who bore the fight so that freedom’s light
might shine through the foggy dew

Damien Dempsey – The Rocky Road To Dublin (mp3 expired)

Damien Dempsey Official Site

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Damien Dempsey

Dropkick Murphys: The Meanest Of Times

Dropkick Murphys are back with their sixth full length album, The Meanest Of Times. The new CD features guest vocals by Spider Stacy of The Pogues and Ronnie Drew from The Dubliners. The Murphys are probably the most famous and loudest of the post-Pogues “Celtic punk” bands – followed closely by Flogging Molly and The Tossers – and their music is still as fiery as ever.

From beginning to end, the new disc is bursting with high energy tunes that show off the band’s signature rough and rowdy blend of punk rock noise and traditional Irish instrumentation. Among them are the parochial school anthem “Famous For Nothing”, the pounding requiem “God Willing”, and the socially conscious whirlwinds “The State Of Massachusetts”, “Vices & Virtues”, and “Shattered”.

All but three of the album’s songs are originals – “(F)Lannigan’s Ball”, “Fairmount Hill”, and “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya” are warped arrangements of the traditional “Lannigan’s Ball”, “Spancil Hill”, and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” with new lyrics by the band. I’ve always preferred when the Murphys twist traditional tunes – such as their awesome version of “Rocky Road To Dublin”.

Spider Stacy of The Pogues and Ronnie Drew from The Dubliners lend their voices to “(F)Lannigan’s Ball”, which was recorded in Dublin. “Fairmont Hill” is the calmest moment on the album, but the track keeps a firm grasp on the Murphy’s trademark growl while taking on a sea chantey rhythm. “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya” is the most affecting piece, as the Murphys strip off the genteel sentimentality of the traditional war hymn and paint it over with the harshness of reality.

Dropkick Murphys Official Site

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