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The Story Behind the Songs

Ireland’s Political and Social History
Personal Songs of Life, Love, Loss

Songs of Drink and Adventure

#3 Raglan Road
The words to this song were written by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh. He fancied a lady named Hilda Moriarty; there was a big age gap between them and young Hilda proved elusive. Hilda instead married charismatic politician Donogh O’Malley, who died at an early age. Hilda ran for his seat and lost to his nephew, Dessie O’Malley, who helped establish the Progressive Democrats. Kavanagh is revered as a poet on the level of Yeats, and fans include Russell Crowe and Van Morrison. His statue sits by the Grand Canal in Dublin, and also at Disney World in Florida.

#10 Black Velvet Band
The writer is enticed by a dark-haired beauty who is a pickpocket, and she ensnares him in her crime, for which he goes to jail “in Van Dieman’s land” for 7 years.

#1 Star of the County Down
Another Irishman pursues a beauty who captured his roving heart. Intricately composed, each stanza is a double quatrain.

#8 Spancil Hill
The Irish Diaspora tells many tales of yearning to return to Ireland while in far-off lands. The Fair at Spancil Hill is still held on the 24th of June.

#6 Fiddler’s Green
Irish fishermen want to go to idyllic Fiddler’s Green when they die. This song celebrates the sea-going culture of our island nation.

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