WE SHALL NEVER CONQUER IRELAND WHILE THE BARDS ARE THERE

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Being Irish gives you a head start in life: unlike their neighbour Ireland’s martial exploits are either camouflaged or deemed to be glorious as in the Wild Geese mercenaries. The Irish don’t have enemies or rivals and they’re liked wherever in the world they go. Flashing one’s Irish passport opens doors and minds that remain closed for lesser beings.

The Irish have a flair for communication. For this reason, anyone who has the gift of blarney or banter is said to have kissed the Blarney Stone.

Ireland is one of the world’s smallest nations; it is the last outpost of geographical Europe Urals to the Atlantic. Its poets, bards, lyricists, playwrights, and writers are equal to those of Russia which is the world’s largest country.

England has esteemed poets and writers whom they readily identify as English. For this reason I think it unfair that they rarely mention the Irish nationality of Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Samuel Becket, Jonathan Swift, and C. S. Lewis; well, how long have you got.

My favourite ethnic-Irish troubadours are the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem (1932 – 2007). In respect of the latter, all I ever wanted to do was to write as Tommy sings; from the heart to heart.

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The Irish balladeer and poet achieved international recognition and his ballad The Winds Are Singing Freedom became the folk anthem of Eastern Europeans during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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If what you are seeking is an outstanding poet with the gift of expressing his heart-thoughts in ballad then your odyssey is over when you reach Tommy Makem’s ballad Four Green Fields.

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Tommy played the long-necked 5-string banjo, tin whistle, low whistle, guitar, bodhrán, and bagpipes. But, his finest musical instrument was the tongue and its vocal chords.

Born and raised in County Armagh Tommy started life as a clerk in a garage and then as a barman at a local bar. His ability to write earned him a start at The Armagh Observer.

Immigrating to the United States as a 23-year old he carried little except his bagpipes. After a faltering start Tommy met the Clancy Brothers and the group was signed to Columbia Records. Fame and fortune were based entirely on their natural talent, audience empathy, and their carrying the spirit of ancient and modern Ireland in their vocal chords.

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Wherever they appeared, Carnegie Hall included, whoever they played for, John F. Kennedy or Ed Sullivan, whoever they associated with the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem stood out among the most star-laden peers.

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Danny Doyle reminds us that in ancient Ireland there existed a learned order of honoured men, the bards, an aristocracy of professional heralds, who were equal in dignity to the king.

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Their passionate vocation was the preservation of the ancient culture and history. They nurtured the heart and soul of the Irish island and passed down to us a treasure house of poetry, song, and tradition.

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In the telling of their tales they nurtured to the immutable defiance against the invader; a furious English monarch exclaimed, “We shall never conquer Ireland while the bards are there.” The bards are still there and so is Tommy for as we Irish say, ‘you’re dead only when they stop talking about you.” ~ Michael Walsh.

FOUR GREEN FIELDS

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