THE LOVE OF THE LAND — This is a familiar story on both sides of the Atlantic, but a harsh reality, nonetheless. In the 1960s in Ireland, many young farmers were encouraged to borrow money to improve the family holdings. Within a few years, the economic climate changed, and, for some, bankruptcy or emigration were the only alternatives.
KEG OF BRANDY — I first heard a version of this sung by Annie Roche when I lived in Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. I thought that some melody was missing since it had only the chorus part. So, I wrote additional music for verse and the break. The set of words used here I learned from Bobby Clancy.
EARLY RISER — I like to think of this as the anthem of "Celtic Zen." When I first heard the expression, "If you're known as an early riser, you can stop in the bed all day," I knew I would use it in a song. I've always admired people who challenge the prevailing philosophy.
FULL MOON OVER MANAGUA — In 1985, along with Mick Moloney, Susie Gott, and the Green Grass Cloggers, I was part of the "Festival of Mountain Music and Dance" tour of South America. It was a very memorable tour which took us to Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Our concerts in the Cultural Center, built in the ruins of the Grand Hotel in Managua, which was destroyed in the 1972 earthquake, were an unforgettable high point of the tour. Thanks to Gordie Hinners of the Cloggers for the title.
THE LAND OF LIBERTY — In recent years, there has been a huge increase in the number of young Irish people settling in America. Having experienced, first hand, the life of the illegal immigrant in the USA, and knowing full well the trapped feeling that goes with it, I was struck by the irony of being a virtual captive in the land of liberty.
THE ROAD TO DUNMORE — The coast of County Waterford is among my favorite places in Ireland. The town of Dunmore East is the scene for this song of separation, a very familiar topic in Irish songs.
TWO NATIONS — I wrote this song on a long car journey home from Irish Week in Elkins, West Virginia, part of the Augusta Heritage Arts Workshops held every summer on the campus of Davis and Elkins College. It was provoked by an incident at a panel discussion where an Irish American accused some of the native-born Irish instructors of being condescending in their attitudes towards their U.S. cousins. It brought home to me the discrepancy between the image of the Irish in Ireland and America. The Irish Civil War and ensuing treaty is still a controversial topic in Ireland today. When I was in school, it was considered too inflammatory to be included in the Irish History course.
THE LAST OF THE GLEEMEN — Michael Moran, a.k.a. Zosimus, lived between 1794 and 1846. Struck blind at age two, he made use of his razor-sharp wit and unfailing memory to delight the citizens of Dublin with songs, stories, and political satire. The incident in this song is recounted by W. B. Yeats in his "Mythologies." Many of Moran's songs are still heard in Ireland.
YOU'RE NOT IRISH — A true story. Just ask anyone who has ever sung in an Irish bar anywhere in the world. And just for the record, I still don't know any of these songs. Jimmy Keane is the one-man brass band.