Irish music at its best? (1)
Karine Polwart.......on her way

Irish music at its best? (2)

Here goes then. Nicholas Wall has had his say. Now I am going to have mine - and it will not be my last word.

It is quite impossible to have been listening to Irish music for as long as I have and restrict a choice of the best to the 10 songs or tunes I promised. So I will do it in stages, definitely two and - who knows? - maybe more.

I may, like Nick, allow myself to wander beyond the confines of the sort of Irish music I usually listen to and write about. In other words, pop and rock will get a look in. Notes to each choice will be added in due course....I was keen to get the ball rolling ahead of a trip to Europe (more on my return).

G K Chesterton wrote (if I remember the lines correctly:

Great Gaels of Ireland
All their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad

There is plenty of war, and lots of tears, in my first list. But this, for better or worse and sticking to Irish artists but not always irish songs or compositions, is it:

Raglan Road...............Joan Osborne, with the Chieftains

The Island..................Paul Brady

Parcel of Rogues.........The Dubliners (Luke Kelly singing)

Smoke and Strong Whiskey..........Christy Moore

Anarchie Gordon..........Mary Black

Retour Des Hirondelles/Music For a Found Harmonium......Sharon Shannon

There Were Roses.........Cara Dillon

Tinkerman's Daughter........Niamh Parsons

Flower of Northumberland.........The Johnstons

Ride On.
............ Mary Coughlan (with Davy Spillane)

* Don't worry...the promise of a second list gives ample scope to put right the glaring omissions: Altan, Dervish, Danu and - yes - Sinead O'Connor among them.


Pete Sixsmith

I would always include Paul Brady's definitive version of Arthur McBride. It's a great song and I have used it in History lessons to show how the English treated the Irish and vice versa. I'd also put in Lisdoonvarna by Christy Moore 'cos we had a good lunch there on Sunderland's 2007 tour to Ireland. And anything by Daniel O'Donnell or the Bachelors.

Jim S

Not Cara Dillon's fey version of There were roses! The Mick Moloney, Jimmy Keane, Robbie O'Connell version is much more moving.

I trust Dolores Keane will be in your second list.

colin randall

Ah Jim, I disagree on Cara. I do not think her voice suits everything she does but I do believe she captures the essential Mr/Ms Everybody mood of There Were Roses, which is no less than I would expect from someone who grew up in an area as touched by the Troubles as most. Mick Moloney, from the south and living in the US for most of his adult life, cannot claim the same degree of attachment, though the song's author Tommy Sands, of course, can - and his version would be my natural choice after Cara's.

Dolores will be in list two or three.

Pete: that's the trouble with an exercise of this sort. I, too, admire Brady's Arthur McBride hugely, but I am following Nick Wall's one artist/one song rule.

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