Mary Flaherty's Favorite Reels — We always wanted to start a record with a couple of nice, tough reels. One night in Chicago after playing these reels for Mary Flaherty, an Irish music-lover from Connemara, she said, "You really ought to put those on your new record, you know". We agreed, and have named them after Mary, as we've heard two names for the first reel, Lady Ann Montgomery and Lady Ann McGregor and we have no name for the second reel which we heard from Seamus Begley.
The Dear Little Isle — Seamus Begley is also the source for the title song of this album, The Dear Little Isle. We first met Seamus in Chicago, where we live, and then back in Feonagh, County Kerry where he lives. Seamus plays the button-accordion and sings in Irish and English. He's a fine musician and you could hear him on a soft summer's night in An Cuine in Feonagh or on a cold winter's night in Chicago or St. Paul. Pat Diamond, from Connemara volunteered the last verse of The Dear Little Isle, one night in Chicago. The song was Pat's "party piece" and he got the last verse from a friend back home.
The Star of the County Down, has long been a favorite in the taverns and clubs we play around this country, as well as the pubs we play in Ireland. We learned it from Pat Hill, native of County Tipperary, now living in St. Paul, Minnesota. If you have either of our other records, you already know of Pat; but for those of you who don't, suffice _ it to say he's a great collector of Irish songs. Pat is now seventy-seven years old and still singing, collecting, and writing songs.
Kerry Slides and Polkas — Cuz is another musician in his seventies' who has given us scores of tunes and songs. Cuz, Terence P. Teahan, is from Glountain, County Kerry and now resides in Chicago. He played at dances and weddings around Chicago for years, he's recently come out of retirement to make some records and pass along the Kerry music he plays with such style and vigor. The first two slides of this selection are from Cuz, The Lonesome Road to Dingle and The Barrel Organ. The polkas are from the other Kerryman we spoke of above, Seamus Begley.
England's Viet Nam, is a modern song written out of the war in what remains of Ulster. It might best be described as an Irish, country-western, rebel song. I've often wondered if in future years people might misunderstand the chorus and think we're singing about men who predict the weather making too free, which is also true, but has no bearing on this particular song.
Far Away in Australia is a lovely song on a sad theme, immigration. It makes a great old-time waltz in case any of you feel like dancing.
In the event any of you are in the humour for laughing, we've included a great comic song that Cuz heard from his mother, The Tanglediony.
Tom Dahill's Fiddle — Barbara dances on this recording, to a hornpipe composed by Cuz, entitled Tom Dahill's Fiddle. Cuz made this tune for Tom and for Pat Hill who gave his fiddle to Tom. The tune could be called the St. Paul Fiddle, since, the fiddle was playing Irish music in St. Paul, long before Tom or Pat, as an old fiddler gave it to Pat nearly fifty years ago.
The True Lovers' Discussion is another song Pat Hill sang for us that he heard his grandmother singing. Chuck found an old book about this song that said, "The True Lovers Discussion became popular again in the 1880's".
Love's a Tormenting Pain Medley — Our source for the first two airs in this medley is Edward Bunting's book about the harp music of Ireland entitled, The Ancient Music of Ireland, first published in 1796. Love's a Tormenting Pain, is an old air credited to W. Connallon, 1670. Planxty Connor was composed by the great blind composer, Turlough O'Carolan.
Our source for the next three tunes, Sweet Biddy Daly, The Contradiction reel, and The Reconciliation reel, is Pat "Packie" Flannagan. Pat was born of Irish parents in Chicago and the family then returned to Tourmakeady, County Mayo when Pat was six years old. In Ireland Pat took up the button-accordion and learned to read and write music. He immigrated to Chicago years later and played on the radio and at the dances. Pat can be heard playing with us on our last record, Mom's Favorite Irish Music in America on Biscuit City Records (BC1308). He now lives in Denver and plays with his family for virtually all of the Irish functions in Colorado.
So, those are the songs and tunes on this record and we hope you enjoy them.