In an updated post from the Salut! Live archive, I acknowledged with great regret the death of Paddy Moloney, co-founder of the Chieftains, a priceless champion of traditional Irish music and an innovator par excellence.
I first saw his ensemble at an electrifying concert in Belfast in about 1969, the city burning not far away.
It was a magical experience. I also attended the celebrated Irish Heartbeat gig with Van Morrison, compered by John Peel, at the Royal Albert Hall in 1988. And I met Paddy once, at a pleasantly boozy London West End celebration to mark the release of Tears of Stone, a wonderful album featuring collaborations with female artists from many corners of music. I arrived late in the evening from work, clutching a page proof of the piece I'd written about it.
He was good company that night and, I am sure, on many other days and nights. I cherish the moments I have spent in the presence of his great band and hope he will now rest well, his journey through life complete.
I wanted to add a musical tribute to Paddy's work so will make this a new edition of Salut! Live's Cover Story series.
As often happens, I have two versions of one song to offer, both performed with the Chieftains and, loving both, am hopelessly unsure which I prefer.
Raglan Road is a poem of compelling lyricism and beauty written by Patrick Kavanagh, who originally called his work Dark Haired Miriam Ran Away (changing the name of the girl who had dumped him). He gifted it to the Dubliners' Luke Kelly when they met in a pub around the corner from Grafton Street, Dublin's famous long lane mentioned in the song. It appears Kavanagh always had in mind the tune of a 19th century song, The Dawning of the Day, (translated from Edward Walsh's Irish-language Fáinne Geal an Lae). And that tune works very well indeed.
Among so many fine renditions that you can readily find on YouTube, I now present my own preferences.
Of the two - the incomparable Van Morrison and the American singer-composer of One of Us, Joan Osborne - I will say only that her vocals reach perfection while his are just seriously good ... and that that the Chieftains, my reason for posting this in honour of Paddy Moloney, are so much more present in the accompaniment of Van the Man's version.
You choose or, like me, savour both ...
Image: Kurt & Doc Huot
Image: Kurt & Doc Huot