A song for Ireland: a song of happy days

A post from our Community Correspondent John Dane

“Talking all the day with true friends, who try to make you stay
Telling jokes and news, singing songs to pass the night away”

This is my favourite song and although it is relatively new , it reminds me of my childhood.

It was written in the 1980s by Phil McLough and his wife June who came from North Staffordshire. They both had careers in education and were heavily involved in the folk music scene, founding the first fold music club in Stoke on Trent in 1960.

The song was inspired by a trip the McCloughs took to the Dingle Peninsula in South West Ireland. They fell in love with the place and at the end of the holiday they never wanted to leave. This is a sentiment that is familiar to me; the song provokes memories of family trips to Ireland. Each summer in the late seventies and early eighties, we would spend four weeks in South West Ireland for the horse racing season. We started in Kilarney, then up to Galway and back down to Cork. It was about more than the horse racing- we met so many friends and had a great social life for those four weeks with lots of sing-songs and parties. Happy days.

Another of my favourites is Danny Boy, which most people think of as Irish, but was actually written by an Englishman- Frederic Weatherly. He wrote the soul searching lyrics in 1910 but found it difficult to find music to match. It wasn’t until his sister-in-law Margaret in the United States sent him a copy of Londonderry Air in 1913 that he modified the words to fit the music. The first recording was made by Elsie Griffin in 1915 and it became one of the most popular songs of the new century.

Most people don’t know the true meaning of the song, but if you take the time to listen it is heartbreakingly sad. It’s about a father saying goodbye when his third son is going off to war. He asks the son not to forget them and to come home, as he’d already lost his first two sons to the war.


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