Andy Irvine joins members of The Press Gang to sing a traditional Cornish Christmas carol.
A vocal group noted for their unaccompanied singing, The Press Gang is composed of Niall Fennell, Tom Crean, Dave Smyth and Sean Ó Corcoráin who perform English and Irish folk songs and sea shanties.
Folk musician, singer songwriter and member of PlanxtyAndy Irvine joins Tom Crean and Niall Fennell to sing the traditional Cornish Christmas Carol ‘The Holly She Bears A Berry’ (also known as the ‘Sans Day Carol’),
Now the holly she bears a berry as white as the milk,
And Mary she bore Jesus, all wrapped up in silk,
And Mary she bore Jesus Christ our Saviour for to be,
And the first tree that’s in the greenwood, it was the holly.
This episode of The Late Late Show was broadcast on 23 December 1972. The presenter is Gay Byrne.
“That’s very nostalgic! How sad Tom Crean is no longer with us. He was one of the founders of the wonderful and well remembered Tradition Club in Slattery’s in Capel St. I had been drummed in to The Press Gang to replace the unavailable Sean Corcoran & Dave Smyth.” Andy Irvine Dec 23 2022
Trad Music Session “The Munster Jig” | The Late Late Show
Last night’s Late Late Show saw a celebration of Irish traditional music with Dónal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Zoë Conway, Frankie Gavin, Louise Mulcahy, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Jim Higgins, Martin O’Connor and Edel Fox.
Andy then sang a rendition of “Sally Brown.”
The group also combined for a beautiful version of “The Maids of Mount Cisco.”
They then dedicated a cover of the song “Sí Beag Sí Mhór”, the song made famous by the late Liam O’Flynn, to his memory and his wife.
Before concluding the night with “Hers’s a Health & Last Nights Fun.”
On foot of the success of Old Dog Long Road – volume 1, we now bring you volume 2!
As I Roved Out (Trad. Arr. Irvine/Brady/O’Flynn/Moynihan) Andy Irvine: hurdy gurdy & vocal / Liam O’Flynn: tin whistle / Paul Brady: guitar / Johnny Moynihan: harmonium Recorded by Planxty, somewhere in Germany in 1975, I think. I had learned this song some years earlier from a recording made for the BBC in 1952 by Brigid Tunney, who was then living on the border in Co. Fermanagh, though she was originally from Co. Donegal. She was one of the best singers I ever heard. Recorded in Germany in 1975.
John Barlow (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy: bouzouki, drone & vocal Learned from another of my favourite singers, Robert Cinnamond from Balinderry, Co. Antrim. He called this song “The Rich Shipowner’s Daughter”. I had recorded a different version of this song back in 1967 with Sweeney’s Men, called “Willy of Winsbury”. Child Ballad #100. Recorded by Steve Cooney at his studio in West Kerry in 1995.
Love To Be With You (Andy Irvine) Andy Irvine: bouzouki & vocal This started its life as a love song back in Ljubljana in 1968 and was converted into its present state for my album “Rude Awakening” in 1991. I left the chorus as it was but introduced elements of Captain Scott’s Antarctic expedition of 1911-1913 with its tragic end for the South Polar party. Recorded at Ray Barron’s studio, Cork City in 2005.
Jigs: Contentment Is Wealth / The Shores Of Lough Gowna (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: bouzouki & drone Two jigs that we used to play in the band, Patrick Street. Recorded somewhere in Germany using a guitar tuner through an octave divider to provide the drone underneath the bouzouki. Recorded in Germany 1984.
The Blind Harper (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: Greek bouzouki & vocal / Dónal Lunny: bouzouki Another Child Ballad #192. I was on a solo tour in Britain in 1970 when I first heard Nic Jones. I was immediately captivated by his singing and guitar playing and, in 1973, Planxty invited him to open the show for us at the Carlton Cinema in Dublin. Later again, in 1976, Nic and I went on tour, together with others, to accompany Maddy Prior and June Tabor on their “Silly Sisters” tour. This was one of Nic’s great songs and my accompaniment is largely as he played it. Recorded at Barethread Folk Club, Tailor’s Hall, Dublin in February 1978.
Hobo’s Lullaby (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: guitar & vocal Recorded on my ‘Baird’ reel to reel tape recorder in 1961, four days before my 19th birthday! My devotion to Woody Guthrie made me want to sound as much like him as I could and I think I got pretty close here! The recording even sounds like an old 78! Recorded at St John’s Wood, London on 10th June 1961.
Three Huntsmen (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: bass bouzouki & vocal A song of murder and deceit. Recorded by Sweeney’s Men under the title “Johnston” in 1968 with Johnny Moynihan at the helm. I don’t remember where we got the song. Recorded at Cobblers, Germering, Germany on 19th October 2002.
Rude Awakening (Andy Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandola & vocal / Rens van der Zalm: fiddle Yet another song with Antarctic connotations. Shackleton’s expedition in 1915 to cross the Antarctic from one side to the other required two ships. The story of the ship Endurance, carrying Shackleton and his Trans-Antarctic party is well known as is the fact that his journey across Antarctica never even started. The other ship – Aurora – sailing with a support party to the opposite side to lay depots for Shackleton on the latter part of his long journey is not so well known. The officer in charge, Aeneas Mackintosh, made many mistakes, culminating in his ill advised decision to cross the sea ice before it had become stable. A blizzard blew up after he and a companion had started, blowing the ice out to sea and, in spite of subsequent searches, they were never seen again. I had an alternative couplet which I don’t sing here: – “What a beautiful dish we will make for the fish As we’re eaten alive by the sharks around us.” One can only hope that they drowned before that happened. Recorded at The Iron Horse, Northampton MA, USA on 6th February 1992.
Sergeant Small (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: bouzouki, harmonica & vocal Learned from my dear friend Seamus Gill in Canberra. In the 1930s depression years in Australia, many out of work men had to travel to find a job. Not having the money for normal travel expenses they would jump goods trains, much to the annoyance of the railway companies who often employed the state police to stop and search these trains. Sergeant Small was a real person who would dress himself up as a ‘swagman’, jump a freight and catch the illegal travellers red handed. In 1938 a country and western singer named Tex Morton wrote a song about Sergeant Small which got a lot of radio airplay. The sergeant heard it and threatened to sue. Later on, Brad Tate took Morton’s song and changed it into a folk song, which is what it is today. Recorded at Tressler’s Barn CT, USA on 24th June 2008.
The Royal Forester (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandola & vocal Learned from the singing of John Strachan of Fyvie, Aberdeenshire. This is a Child Ballad #110. John Strachan’s recorded version has the audience laughing at the last couplet, where it’s revealed that the King’s high forester is actually a Blacksmith’s son and the lowly maid he has seduced but refuses to marry is the Earl of Airlie’s daughter. Recorded in Donnybrook, Dublin in 1978.
The Wind Blows Over The Danube (Andy Irvine) Mozaik – Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny, Bruce Molsky, Rens van der Zalm, Nikola Parov I spent a lot of time in Hungary in the early eighties. A lot of young people in Budapest had ‘discovered’ their traditional music and dance in much the same way as happened in Dublin. I became good friends with Márta Sebestyén and the band, Muzsikás, as well as many other musicians there. It was an exciting time for me, and friendship, music and romance filled the air. The tune here is based on a popular Hungarian song, collected by Béla Bartók in 1907, called Dúnarol fuj a Szél (The wind blows from the Danube). Recorded at Tom-Tom studios, Budapest, Hungary in October 2005.
You Fascists Bound To Lose (Andy Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandolin & vocal I started writing songs when I was hitchhiking in Eastern Europe in 1968. They were usually personal songs like “West Coast of Clare” or “Autumn Gold”. But here’s one I wrote as fascism reared its ugly head. I sang this on a TV programme I had in Ljubljana. Yugoslavia had no diplomatic relations with Spain or Portugal so I was able to have a go at Salazar and Franco without fear of creating an international incident!! On another occasion, Joe Dolan and I sang the chorus as we walked out of the Hofbräuhaus in Munich after watching the bouncers physically eject a bunch of innocent but over excited Australians, one of whom was a cripple. Recorded in Dublin 1969.
On foot of the success of Old Dog Long Road – volume 1, we now bring you volume 2!
Erin Go Bragh (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: bouzouki, harmonica & vocal I learned this song from Ian ‘Jock’ Manuel who was resident at the Folk Club at the Bluebell in Hull and a tremendous singer. That must be back in the sixties. It came into my head around year of 2003 and I found I remembered most of the words. Couldn’t remember the tune though, so I put it to this one. Every time I sing it, I nearly remember where I got this tune. It’s really familiar but I just can’t put a name to it! Recorded at Studio E, Sebastopol, CA, USA on 22nd June 2010.
Carrowclare (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandola & vocal Learned from Eddie Butcher, that great singer from Magilligan in Co. Derry. It was written by a local blind fiddle player called Jimmy McCurry who lived near Carrowclare. Sam Henry also printed it in his wonderful collection – “Songs of the People”. In the original, the lovers part and the boy goes off to make his fortune in Amerikay but Eddie never liked a song with a sad ending and he wrote an extra eight lines to tell how they get married and go across the Atlantic together. I’ve stuck to the original but left it likely that he would return! Recorded by Gunnar Tønnesen at “Full Moon Eve” concert, Klepp, Norway in 2005.
Facing The Chair (Andy Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandola & vocal Being a massive fan of Woody Guthrie’s from an early age, I bought his records as they came out. “Ballads of Sacco & Vanzetti” came out on Folkways in 1960. Woody had recorded it in 1946/47 but was not really satisfied with the result. I had not heard of these two Italian anarchists whose trial for murder in Boston had led to them being found guilty and executed in the Electric Chair in 1927. His lyrics made a great impression on me and I studied the books which had been written about these events. As the trial unfolded, the bias of Judge Thayer became more and more evident and I came to the conclusion, along with Woody and most other socially minded people that a terrible injustice had been perpetrated. I wrote this song after visiting the courthouse in Dedham MA where so much of this trial had been held. Recorded in Dreieichenhain, Germany on 3rd December 1982.
A Blacksmith Courted Me (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandolin & vocal This is an oddity as I had already been singing the quite different version I recorded with Planxty for a couple of years. As I remember it, I woke one morning, climbed from my bed and recorded this as another way of singing the song. It sounds to me as if I had been listening to A.L. Lloyd!! It must have been rush hour in Donnybrook as you can hear the traffic in the background. Recorded in Donnybrook, Dublin in 1970.
Hornpipe: The Drunken Sailor (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandola Noel Hill, great concertina player, kindly recorded this on a tape for me to learn many years ago. I heard him play it in Slattery’s of Capel Street in Dublin one evening and thought it a great tune which he played brilliantly! Recorded at White Horse Pub, Beverley, Yorkshire on 2nd July 1984.
Douglas Mawson (Andy Irvine) Andy Irvine: bouzouki & vocal A song of mine about the great Australian Geologist and Antarctic explorer who, after travelling with Shackleton in 1907-09, led his own expedition to Adélie Land, a previously unexplored part of the Antarctic continent. His extraordinary courage in getting back to base after the death of his two companions made a big impression on me. Recorded at Brunswick Town Hall, Brunswick, VIC, Australia during Brunswick Festival on 1st April 1989.
The Snows – Οι χιονιές – (Lyrics: Eirini Chalkou / Music: George Konitopoulos) Mozaik – Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny, Bruce Molsky, Rens van der Zalm, Nikola Parov – with Chrysoula Kechagioglou: vocal In 2015 the band Mozaik recorded its third album “The Long and The Short of It” in Nikola Parov’s studio in Budapest. We had invited Chrysoula Kechagioglou to fly from Greece to guest with us and one of the songs we wanted her to sing was this one. Dónal Lunny had come back from Greece many years ago with this song, from the island of Naxos, on a cassette and I had wanted, ever since, to record it. Apparently, in the dialect of Naxos, this song refers to snowball throwing but that doesn’t seem to be reflected in the translation I have seen. The song is more a sad memory of times gone by and the snows of yesteryear. Mozaik recorded too much material for the album and this recording didn’t make the cut. Recorded in the Livingroom Studio, Budapest, Hungary in September 2015.
Banks Of Newfoundland (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: octave stringed bouzouki, harmonica & vocal Another song I learned from Eddie Butcher. The coast of Newfoundland was well known for its tempestuous seas, its ice and its fog and the ship in this song is hit by a hurricane and stranded. With nothing left to eat the crew decide to hold a lottery as to who should be killed and eaten. Fortunately, they are saved from cannibalism, in the nick of time, by the arrival of another ship. Hugh Shields, who collected Eddie’s songs, says that Eddie also had a couple of lines that went: – “Some jumped in earnest in the seas and said they’d swim to land but alas we were one hundred leagues from the Banks of Newfoundland”. As Hugh Shields humorously reports, “these lines occur at the moment of rescue, so that their folly gives way to exhibitionism”! Recorded by Steve Cooney at his studio in West Kerry 1995.
Hornpipes: Cooley’s / O’Dwyer’s (Trad. Arr. Irvine/Casey/Moore) Andy Irvine: mandolin / Nollaig Casey: fiddle / Des Moore: guitar In 1983 I organised a long tour with Nollaig Casey on fiddle and Des Moore on guitar. We started in Vienna on 15th January and continued through Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, France and Holland and ended on 22nd February. I remember it with fondness as my band mates were good company and the 28 concerts were generally successful. Here are two Hornpipes that we played in Holland on a bitterly cold and windy Sunday. Recorded in Scheveningen, Holland on 13th February 1983.
Jack Mulroe (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandola & vocal Learned from another great singer, Tom Moran from Mohill in Co. Leitrim. He was recorded by Séamus Ennis for the BBC back in the 50s. He had an extraordinary and unusual repertoire of songs and Séamus told me his opinion was that an English soldier, who had come over with Cromwell in the 17th century, had settled in that part of Leitrim and that’s where a lot of Tom’s songs had come from. Recorded in Ballysooragh, Co. Fermanagh in 2008.
Sweet Bann Water (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: bouzouki & vocal / Rens van der Zalm: guitar Learned from Joe Holmes and Len Graham. This song is often called “The Cocks are Crowing”. Sam Henry collected a version quite close to Joe and Len’s in 1937 from a man called Valentine Crawford in the Commercial Hotel in Bushmills, Co. Antrim. Recorded at Old School House, Parachilna, South Australia in July 2012.
In this interview, Andy Irvine chats with Ruth Hazleton about Australia, songwriting, traditional song and his lifetime passion for the songs of Woody Guthrie. It features three songs: ‘Gunshot Creek’, ‘Banks of Bann’ & ‘Polly on the Shore’. From his website: “ANDY IRVINE is one of the great Irish singers, his voice one of a […]