The Wild Colonial Boy
Variously known as Jack Duggan, Jack Doolin, Jack Dolan, etc., this Kerryman's exploits have made him as much a hero in Australia as in Ireland.
The Little Beggarman
This the first song I ever sang in public at the tender age of five. It has become a staple in the international folk music repertoire.
Johnny I Hardly Knew You
One of the great anti-war songs, the melody was used by band master Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, (I believe that's the name) for the American classic When Johnny Comes Marching Home and later on with a completely different rhythm for Ghost Riders In The Sky.
Canada My Own Land
After becoming enamoured of Canada and it's people, I wrote this in tribute to both.
I wrote this song for my wife whose name is Mary, but I had written so many songs that included the name Mary that I thought I needed a different name. She understands.
One of the County Antrim leaders of the 1798 rebellion, this United Irishman's memory is alive and vibrant mostly because of this song.
The Old Orange Flute
A very clever song that tickles the funny bone of many of us. It is set to, arguably, the most popular folk melody of all time.
The only song I know about gluttony. I learned it years ago from Jimmy Nugent in Keady, Co. Armagh.
The Black Velvet Band
Although very sadly abused in many instances, this lovely song is blessed with a great melody and fine lyrics and can not only survive, but rise above all the abuse and remain a good song.
The Irish Rover
A well known nautical song full of exaggeration. I used to know more verses but have forgotten them because of singing these particular ones so often.
The Rambles Of Spring
An itinerant musician takes to the road at the first hint of Spring, his fiddle ever at the ready.
Farewell To Carlingford
Reputedly the oldest town in Ireland, Carlingford is undoubtedly one of my favourite places.
The Wild Rover
One of the most popular songs in any Irish singer's repertoire, it also has been sadly abused and continues to rise, Phoenix like, and remain a great song. The Australians also make a strong claim to this song.
Red Is The Rose
Learned from the singing of my late mother, Sarah Makem, this favourite is set to the same tune as the lovely Scottish song, Loch Lomond.
Tim Finnegan's Wake
A product of the Irish Music Hall tradition. James Joyce, they say, was fascinated by the idea of the 'water of life' (whiskey) being spilled on a corpse and bringing it back to life. It influenced him in writing his monumental work Finnegans Wake.
Here is a case of an American folksong making the journey Eastward across the Atlantic and becoming a part of the Irish tradition. The wonderful, late, Delia Murphy brought this one on its Eastern journey.
The Butcher Boy
Another one I learned from the singing of my mother. I recorded this originally in the early sixties and it became a great favourite. It is, of course, a local Keady version of an internationally known folk song.
I'll Tell My Ma
A children's song from the streets of Belfast which I learned from the singing of David Hammond. There were a couple of lines missing when the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem originally recorded it in the sixties and I supplied the new lines. Can you guess which ones?
I first heard Johnny Vallely of Derrynoose,Keady singing this song many years ago and after I recorded it in the early sixties it became very popular. I imagine it's from the Irish Music Hall tradition.
Four Green Fields
The four Irish provinces of Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught are, of course, the four green fields. The Old Woman is Ireland herself. I wrote this song in 1967 and it's a plea for Ireland to be left to chart her own. destiny without interference, a destiny for all her sons and daughters. Surely after eight hundred years of "interference" it's not too much to ask.