In honor of Frank, who started this weekly feature but is temporarily ashore, and while thinking of several friends from our parish who are in Ireland for the next couple of weeks, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite Irish tunes and groups—though the last song here is technically neither. No religious uplift is intended or expected; and the post will probably draw some loud boos. You’ll know what I mean when you get there.
I’ll start with a tune dedicated to my buddy Paul, whom I don’t see half enough these days. A few months ago, I saw a concert by some boys from the Galway village of Tuam in Paul’s company, and it was a happy night. First, the canned version—
And now a live version from last year, to show just how popular “The Saw Doctors” are, even in the USA, even after 25 years—
Next up are The Pogues, with a thought for my brother-in-law, another Paul. Now sailing happily somewhere in retirement, Paul was the first person to introduce me to Shane MacGowan and company—
Flogging Molly is an LA-based Pogues-type outfit, headed by Dublin-born Dave King and his wife, Bridget Regan (on tin whistle and fiddle). “What’s Left of the Flag” at least mentions rosary beads—the only Catholic reference I can make out. Am I missing something?
Perhaps not the most popular Irishwoman among Catholics is Sinead O’Connor. Sorry, but it is hard to top this version of “The Foggy Dew” sung with the most Irish of all modern bands, The Chieftains, even if Her Baldness did tear up a photo of JPII on SNL eighteen years ago.
“The Foggy Dew” is about the Easter Uprising of 1916. My favorite Irish tune concerns a later bunch of Troubles. You can make an argument that this is the greatest rock ’n roll song of all time.
There are many versions of this final song, one of the great Christian hymns, but nobody does it like The Dropkick Murphys. The hymn is English, the band is from Boston, but the tune is all Irish.