Niamh Parsons and Luke Cheevers

National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin.

Wednesday 27th of November 2013

Audio Recordings from the Concert 
Recorded by Shane Mooney and Steven Bracken (S+S Studios). Produced by Michael Fortune.
Video Documentation of Concert
Recorded and Produced by Michael Fortune.
Information on Niamh’s Songs

Annan Waters
Child 215 Appendix to "Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow or The Water o Gamrie".  Child found it in Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1802). In l969 English singer/collector Nic Jones altered, simplified and added to the text given in the appendix and added the chorus. The first half of the tune is an adaptation of "The Brisk Young Lively Lad" found in the Folk Song Journals, and the second half was composed by Nic Jones.  This is the version used by the Voice Squad, Kate Rusby, myself, Mike Donoghue and everybody else who sings it. I learnt this from Mike Donoghue from England on hearing of his death in 1985.  In the notes of his tape/booklet collection written by Mike’s wife, she mentions that in the original version of the song, “the mare sweated from fear ‘for she heard the water-kelpy roaring’.  A kelpy is a water-spirit that delights in drowning travellers and which usually appears itself in the shape of a horse – a piece of folklore which is worth reviving.” 

Two Sisters
Child 10, is a murder ballad that recounts the tale of a girl drowned by her sister. At least 22 English variants exist under several names, including Minnorie, Binnorie and The Dreadful Wind and Rain, The Bows of London, The Cruel Sister, Rolling a-Rolling, The Wind and Rain, The Swan Swims Bonnie, The Old Lord by the Northern Sea, Bowie, Bowerie, The Little Drownded Girl, Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom, Old Man from the North Countree and The Youngest Daughter.  The earliest known date is 1656 from a Broadside. I learnt this version, along with my sister, from Clannad’s Dúlamán album of 1976.

Lover’s Ghost 
Child 248, The Grey Cock or Lover’s Ghost.  The version I sing comes almost directly from P.W. Joyce, a distinguished collector of traditional Irish music and songs. This appears in his book The Joyce Collection – Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909), where he says he learnt this as a child at home in Limerick.  In Sam Henry’s Songs of the People, there are two different versions, Bonny Bushes Bright and True Lover John.  It is a ‘Night Visiting Song’. I learnt this from the singing of the ballad group ‘Emmet Spiceland’ back in the ‘60s.  As a child the ‘worms and the creeping things’ delighted me.

Death of Queen Jane
Child 170.  Child says this song is a Threnedy which is a song written or sung as a memorial to a dead person.  The term originates from the Greek word threnoidia, from threnos ("wailing").   It is not certain that this song is associated with the broadside, The Lamentation of Queen Jane, licensed in 1560.  The song is among Pepys’s Penny Merriments Vo iii. The Queen Jane in this song is widely believed to be Queen Jane wife of Henry VIII - Jane Seymour gave birth to Prince Edward on October 12th 1537 but she died 12 days later on 24th October. An original melody was composed for this song by Irish guitarist and singer Dáithí Sproule, and first recorded by The Bothy Band on After Hours (1979). Sproule later recorded it on Trian 2 (1995), with Liz Carroll and Billy McComiskey. This version has been recorded by Loreena McKennitt, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Jon Boden among others. Lyrics note:  Michael O’Domhnaill sang – ‘They could no longer there’ which I don’t sing – apart from that I sing Michael O’Domhnaill’s version.

The Great Selkie of Sule Skerry
Child 113.  Sule Skerry is a small rocky remote island off the coast of Scotland, 60 kilometres west of Orkney Island.  Selkie is the Orcadian word for ‘Seal’. This version comes from Orkney.  Some of the verses of the ballad are still remembered in the islands but the tune was very nearly lost. This is not the usual tune, which was composed in 1954 by James Waters. The selkie-folk have come to be regarded as gentle creatures with the ability to transform from seals into humans.  Sometimes they are thought to be the souls of those who had drowned. One night each year these lost souls were permitted to leave the sea and return to their original human form. The version I sing can be found in the Viking Book of Folk Ballads of the English Speaking world (1956) ed. Albert B. Friedman.

Information on Luke’s Songs
Scanned in handwritten notes and artwork from ‘The Moistro’ himself)

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