Half an hour was wasted before lunch. Christy Moore was on Desert Island Discs, a cue to watch videos of his performances on the Net, an opportunity to drift aimlessly through material from other artists, including the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.
Makem has a genius for combining poetry with performance of haunting songs.
Carrickfergus is prefaced by:
He stumbled home from Clifden Fair
with drunken song and cheeks aglow.
But there was something in his air
that told of kingship long ago.
I turned and inly burned with grief
that one so high should fall so low.
But he plucked a flower and sniffed its scent
and waved it toward the sunset sky!
Some old sweet rapture through him went,
and kindled, in his bloodshot eye.
I sighed and inly cried for joy
that one so low could rise so high!
While Makem’s own song Four Green Fields follows a recital of Seamus Heaney’s Requiem for the Croppies
The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley –
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp –
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people, hardly marching-on the hike-
We found new tactics happening each day:
We’d cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until, on Vinegar Hill, the fatal conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August the barley grew up out of the grave.
Ah sure, maybe not such a waste of time after all.