Iarla Ó Lionáird – Róisín Dubh

• “Róisín Dubh” set to an image of black roses. Thanks to MrCatstail.

9.5 “All-time classic Folk from Ireland”

From his second album “I Could Read The Sky” (Real World Records CDRW-84) released in 2000.

Note to self: remember to pronounce him as “Ear-lah O-Linnard”.

The music on the album was written for, and inspired by, the film of the same name.

Synopsis (via RealWorld Records records):

An old man, at the end of his life, remembers. Alone in his bedsit in London his mind wanders, haunted by the past, it’s images of loss and isolation – growing up on the west coast of Ireland, the women he has loved, his journey to London and his harsh life as a migrant labourer.

The music written for this story traces this labyrinth of memories – from the nostalgia and beauty of the traditional rural way of life to the brutality and energy of modern urban existence.

For me, it’s a rare traditional which takes the gold medal – album highlight “Róisín Dubh” (pronounced “Ro-Sheen Doo-f” with only the lightest of light f’s, literally “Dark Rosaleen”, often interpreted as “Black Rose”) is simply magnificent – a master-class in tension, with the Emerald Isle’s Queen of the haunting vocal, Sinéad O’Connor, at hand to front the piece beautifully, mainly in Gaelic.

The centuries-old poem tells, allegorically, of the hopes of the native Irish, specifically the earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell, that the Pope and the King of Spain might come to their aid as Gaelic Ireland was being crushed and anglicised by English forces. The call to arms is well concealed in the poem to avoid “treasonable utterances” for which the penalty was death.

On a lighter note, good luck to the Irish in their tough quest to defeat the Italians at Euro 2016 tomorrow – thankfully, the modern-day enemy is not quite so brutal!


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