The books that shape us: 4
Myth & Moor update

Tunes for a Monday Morning

In a decade marked by displacement and migration due to war, poverty, and climate change, the emigration songs of Ireland are sadly relevant...and particularly poignant.

Above, the great Irish singer Seán Keane (from Caherlistrane in Galway) sings "Exile" by Kieran Wade, accompanied by Pat Coyne and Sean Regan. The song was recorded for Keane's emigration album The Irish Scattering (2008), but it could equally apply to those fleeing Syria and other troubled parts of the world today.

Below, Sinead O'Connor (from Glenageary, Ireland) sings "Skibbereen," a classic song about Ireland's Great Famime and the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. First published in The Irish Singer's Own Book (Boston, 1880), the song is attributed to Patrick Carpenter.

Irish Emigrants Leaving Home

Irish ''Tunnel Tigers''

Irish emigration didn't end with the potato famine, of course. Lack of work (particularly in rural areas) continued to break up families throughout the 20th century...and young people are still leaving Ireland for jobs in England and on the continent today.

Above, "England Has My Man" by Lisa O'Neill, a young singer/songwriter from County Cavan. The song is from her second album, Same Cloth or Not (2013).

Below, "Miles to Tralee" by Kelly Oliver, a young singer/songwriter from Herefordshire, England, telling the story of her Irish grandmother. The song will appear on Oliver's second album, Bedlam (March, 2016).

And to end with:

The song above is "The Exiles Return"  by Karan Casey (from County Waterford) and John Doyle (from Dublin). It comes from their lovely 2011 album of the same title.

Ellis Island

Syria refugee families, early 21st century

The images in this post: "Irish Emigrants Leaving Home," a drawing from The Illustrated London News (mid-19th century); "Tunnel Tigers," Irish migrants employed to do back-breaking, dangerous work on the English/Scottish subway and tunnel systems, mid-20th century; families in the Ellis Island immigrant processing center (New York harbor), early 20th century; and Syrian families in a refugee camp, early 21st century.

For more music on the subject of emigration and displacement, I recommend the "Homesickness" and "Exile" episodes of Ellen Kushner's brilliant radio program Sound & Spirit.