For today, I’d like to share with you a song from the famous Irish all-female group Celtic Woman, whose music I’ve enjoyed for years and have shared a few of their songs on here already. This one comes from their album Ancient Land. Mná na hÉireann is actually a 18th-century poem, written by Ulster poet Peadar Ó Doirnín, but it was later set to an air composed by Seán Ó Riada another of whose compositions, Mo Ghile Mear,, sung by a former Celtic Woman member, I’ve featured on here before. Women of Ireland has been performed by all kinds of musical artists, not even just Irish ones. I believe the first one I heard was by Mike Oldfield when I was a kid, others include Sinéad O’connor, Kate Bush or Jeff Beck. A lot of such old Irish poems personify Ireland, whether as a mother or a goddess, or, as is the case here, as a beautiful woman who is mistreated by the English and the Irishmen need to defend her, though are not always successful at it. Here, the lyrical subject is also mutually in love with the woman in question. As you may know, I myself don’t speak Irish (yet), so couldn’t write a translation, but there is an article about it on Wikipedia which contains several different translation of this song. At the time of releasing Ancient Land, Celtic Woman consisted of Eabha McMahon, Mairead Carlin, Megan Walsh and Tara McNeill, the latter also playing the violin and harp.
For yesterday’s song of the day, I chose the well-known folk song Scarborough Fair, which was popularised by Simon and Garfunkel in the 60’s. This song seems to be a variant of a Child Ballad no. 2, a Scottish song called The Elfin Knight. The theme of this song, which involves tasking a lover with things impossible to perform or asking them unanswerable riddles – is common in British folk music. There are many versions of this song, with one of the first that I became familiar with being Sweet Lover o’ Mine by the Scottish singer Emily Smith (btw, why is there still nothing on here by Emily Smith? :O bad Bibielz!)
However, when I think of Scarborough Fair, the version that first comes to mind is the one by Celtic Woman, with Hayley Westenra from New Zealand as the vocalist.
Today I’d like to share with you this very popular and well-known Irish song sung by Celtic Woman. I have shared this song by Declan Galbraith from his debut album, and shared more about the song and its origins in that post. Celtic Woman have sung this song many times, I guess the most famously with Méav Ní Mhaolchatha as the lead vocalist, but despite my sentiment for the original line-up, I think this more recent live performance where they sing in harmony is really impressive.
Today I want to share with you a contemporary Irish folk song written by Jimmy MacCarthy, singer songwriter from Cork. This song has been covered by a lot of people, but I guess most famously by Christy Moore, whose version I also really like and it’s the first one I heard. While this song is considered very complex lyrically, like many of McCarthy’s song, he himself has said that the topic of it is simple – the inevitability of death of people we love, or parting in general. –
I’ve already shared several songs by Celtic Woman and they’re widely popular anyway so I guess I don’t have to say much about them here. This particular song is sung by Mairead Carlin and Eabha McMahon, I shared Siúil a Rúin sung by her as part of Celtic Woman as well as Fill, Fill a Rún that she sung as the soloist with Anna and you can read a bit more about her in those posts. They are accompanied by the great fiddler Mairead Nesbitt.
Today I thought I’d share with you a song by the amazing supergroup Celtic Woman, which is an all-female folk band created and led by David Downes. I really like their music, and listened to them particularly much as a teenager when I was still rather new to the world of Celtic and folk music in general. This song comes from their latest album from last year called Postcards From Ireland, and the soloist here is Chloe Agnew, who is I believe one of the more recognisable and liked members of this group of all time, as she has been with Celtic Woman on and off since her teenage years. You can learn more about the song reading my earlier post where I shared a version of it sung by Órla Fallon, who, as it happens, was also part of Celtic Woman in the past.
Last month, I showed you the traditional and very frequently sung by all sorts of folk singers Irish tune called Siúil A Rúin by the famous Irish choral ensemble called Anúna. In that post I also explained a bit about the origins and background of the song. Today, I thought I’d share another version of this song, with a bit different lyrics, also from a probably even more popular Irish group that is Celtic Woman. Celtic Woman have actually recorded several different versions of this song, which is not uncommon for them since their line-up has changed a whole lot so they often re-make their old songs with new members. While it is undoubtedly the older version from their debut album, with Órla Fallon on vocals, that is more widely known and recognisable, today I chose to share with you the newer version, with Eabha McMahon as the vocalist. I can’t say which one I like more, but I chose this one because it has a more rootsy vibe and also I’ve already shared a lot of Órla’s music on here, while only one song with Eabha on vocals. As it happens, Eabha was also a member of Anúna as a young girl before she joined Celtic Woman.
Since this song is about a woman’s sorrow because of her lover departing to enlist in the army, listening to this song in this awful time gives me a really strange feeling and makes me see it from a different perspective, as I can’t help but think about all the Ukrainian women, also those many women who have fled here to Poland alone or with children while their men are fighting. Except I guess they have it a lot worse than this Irish lady from the song, because they not only must miss their men and wish to be with them but also worry about their lives, which she doesn’t seem to be concerned about so I guess he’s not actually fighting in a war, just simply chose a military career or something like that.
I couldn’t decide on just one version, as I really like both, so you can compare the two. This song was the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1996 for Ireland, and was composed and written by Brendan Graham who already wrote some other song for Eurovision a few years earlier. Prior to taking part in Eurovision, Eimear Quinn was one of the members and soloists of the amazing choral ensemble Anuna.
Celtic Woman first released this song in 2007, with Lisa Kelly as the vocalist, and now this is one of the songs they perform quite frequently.
While, like I said I like both versions, I slightly gravitate towards the latter. Not sure why, perhaps just because that’s the one I heard first and I have a strong sentiment for Celtic Woman and Lisa Kelly as well.
Celtic Woman are one of my most favourite Irish/Celtic groups, yet I’ve only shared one song with you so far. I’ve recently seen that they released something new, including a newer version of “Orinoco Flow” that they also sang before, but I decided I like the older version more and will show it to you. It comes back from the times when they had their good old line-up, with Lisa Kelly, Meav and such, I liked them best at that time in the history of the band, though I still do like them a lot.
The song was originally song and composed by ENya and appeared on one of her earliest albums back in the eighties – “Watermark”. – If you know me and my blog at least a bit, you probably already know Enya has been one of my major music crushes over the years. Curiously however, “Orinoco Flow” is the only song of hers that I really, really don’t like, as much as I love all her other songs and compositions. It was played a lot and is still one of the most recognisable songs by Enya, I believe, and I knew it way before I started loving Enya and discovering her music. In fact, at the beginning I thought I disliked all of her music, it had to grow on me and it did very suddenly. But “Orinoco Flow”, despite my brave attempts to like it, remains the only song of Enya’s that I do not like, and almost hate. Why is that? I don’t even exactly know. 😀 Perhaps I have some bad associations with it that I don’t realise, which is very possible, in any case, for some reason it makes my sensory anxiety come up. Weird, given how relaxing Enya’s music is and how normally it’s very soothing to me. Anyway, I do like it by Celtic Woman, so maybe it depends on an arrangement or whatever. So, here it is. I hope you enjoy. 🙂
I guess I haven’t yet posted any (or not many anyway) songs from one of my absolute favourite Irish Celtic folk bands, Celtic WOman, nor any of their soloists. So here is one of them that I like the most – Lisa Kelly! – I think she’s gorgeous, just as all of them are. Celtic WOman is an Irish band performing Celtic folk music. The line-up has been changing a lot but the soloists are all women, and all are very talented. From what I know, Lisa Kelly is no longer with them, I guess she went on to make some dance-related project with her husband. I think she has a very clear voice and I like to listen to her. So here’s her solo song, “Lift The Wings”.