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Celebrating The Irish Tradition
March 1999 Edition
Songs of Ireland and The Irish


March brings blustery days, a change in the weather and for some, green beer. This month we again salute Ireland, Irish Americans and St. Patricks day 1999. The Irish have always played a prominent part in and made huge contributions to the music and culture of America. A major part of that contribution has been a large number of wonderful Irish ballads. I have selected some obscure works for this month but all are pure Irish in origin and style.
This month we are continuing with MIDI songs crafted using Cubase (see last month's featured page for details). I have also increased the size of the thumbnails this month so that you may better appreciate the cover detail.

Sheet Music Cover There's A Rose In Old Erin
1915
Music by: Paul Biese, F. Henri Klickman
Lyrics by: J. Will Callahan
Cover artist: Unknown

The artist featured on this cover is none other than the great John McCormack, (1884-1945) the Irish-American tenor who was the rage of the early 20th century. Born in Athlone, Ireland, he joined the choir of the Dublin Cathedral in 1903. In 1907 he made his operatic debut at Covent Garden in London, and in 1909 he sang at the Manhattan Opera House in New York City. He subsequently sang with the Metropolitan and Chicago opera companies. His most notable operatic roles included Rodolpho in La Boheme and Lieutenant Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly. His greatest success, however, was on the concert platform, where his rendition of Irish folk songs achieved great popularity. McCormack retired from the stage in 1938. This song unfortunately has come down to me with only the chorus section surviving. Though it is an engagingly beutiful melody, I regret that the introduction has been lost. Perhaps one of you out there has a copy that you could share.

Enjoy this classic John McCormack song.

Sheet Music Cover Sweet Eileen Asthore
1907
Music & Lyrics by: James J. Russell
Cover Artist: unknown

A common subject found in Irish music is "Eileen Asthore", illustrated here in a photo cover of a shockingly beautiful woman. Sweet Eileen must have been a knockout for all of the songs that refer to "her" are ballads that speak of love and devotion beyond belief. Yet, just who was this Eileen, who is or was this mystery lady? Was she someone's lover, the subject of a musical, a literary name? The music and lyrics give no clue, here is part of the chorus:

"For it's Eileen Allanah, Eileen Asthore,
Sure the gift of the Blarney, is Yours evermore
May good faries guard o'er you and shield you from harm
Is my pray'r for Sweet Eileen Asthore

(Find the answer to who this mystery lady is down the page.)

Dance with Sweet Eileen

Sheet Music Cover Good-Bye, Good Luck, God Bless You
1914
Music by: Ernest R. Ball
Lyrics by: J. Kiern Brennan
Cover artist: unknown

The composer of this song collaborated with Chauncy Olcott on the famous Irish American song, "Mother Machree". In this case, he has again teamed with an Irishman to create yet another Irish themed ballad.
Though the song title might not bring Ireland to mind, the photo on the cover shows a gent in Irish garb, perhaps as a marketing ploy. In spite of all this, the lyrics are rather neutral as to nationality. The song is a sad song of parting. Here is the chorus:

"Good Bye, Good Luck, God Bless You,
is all that I can say.
But when you leave, my heart will grieve
For-ever and a day.
Though other arms caress you
I cannot bid you stay.
Good-bye, good luck, God bless you,
Is all that I can say."

Hear this classic ballad.

Sheet Music Cover
Arrah, Go On, I'm Gonna
Go Back To Oregon

1916
Music by: Bert Grant
Lyrics by: Joe Young, Sam Lewis
Cover artist: Barbelle

Here is another "Irish" song whose title gives no clue, other than the "Arrah". So what does Oregon have to do with the Irish? The lyrics tell a tale of "Pat McCarty, hale and hearty", an Irishman living in Oregon who hears about New York City and leaves the farm to go to the big city. Once there he finds a young "Mary Ann" and with her discovers big city sticker shock and heads straight back to Oregon. It is a cute song with a good tune and lyrics. Here is the chorus (after Pat decides to head back home):

Arrah, go on, I'm gonna go back to Oregon,
Arrah go on, I'm gonna go back and stay.
I could buy the horses many a bale of hay,
for all that I'd have to pay to feed a chicken on old Broad-way.
Arrah, go on, there's somebody back in Oregon
Who calls me uncle Pat, not uncle John..(etc)"

Listen to this jaunty Irish song.

Sheet Music Cover
Eileen Asthore
1906
Music & Lyrics by: Chauncy Alcott
Cover artist: unknown

Chauncy Olcott (1858 - 1932) was one of the greatest composers of Irish ballads in the US during the period from about 1880 - 1920. His songs, including When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, My Wild Irish Rose (see if you can catch the phrase from WIR he has slipped into this song) and many other ballads,virtually define Irish music in America. This is one of his less well-known works
Now you have seen two songs with the name Eileen Asthore involved. In attempting to find out who she was I came up empty until I connected with Jerome Driver who has an incredible site that is a definitive reference for all things Irish. With over 3000 links, he can help you find anything. Indeed, he provided me with the scoop on "Eileen" and it is fascinating. Here, in his own words, is the story of Sweet Eileen Asthore.
"It is all quite simple. Eileen or Aileen are words frequently used in poetry and song to refer to Ireland during the Penal Laws sometime after 1559 but especially from Cromwell's time and prior to 1829.
(see http://www.knight.org/advent/cathen/11611c.htm#III)
During this period it was forbidden by law and punishable by death to write, recite or sing patriotic songs or verse. As you may be aware the Gaelic word for Ireland is …ire (genitive case …ireann). It became standard practice during the Penal Law era for bards to refer to Ireland by a girl's name, and in particular one that sounded like …ire. Eileann is, therefore, a poetic reference to Ireland. The Asthore bit is also quite simple, although complicated. It is basically two words in Gaelic. A + StÛr. "A" is vocative (in case you didn't have Latin that is the case you use to address someone e.g. "O Rick" or rather more familiar but less literarily "My Rick". The word "StÛr" originally meant a wealth of something or treasure. It came to be used as "darling" and the phrase "A StÛr" or Asthore in English means "my darling". The song is, therefore, originally and accurately " My darling Ireland" disguised as an ode to a maiden. "
Visit Jerome at http://www.irishman.org and sign his guestbook as a thanks for his contribution.

Listen to this ode to Ireland from Olcott.


Sheet Music Cover
My Irish Maid
1904
Music by: Max Hoffman
Lyrics by: George V. Hobart
Cover artist: unknown

Here I have another partially lost treasure; the final page of this song is all that has survived. Again, we have a fine melody and with what is left of the lyrics, a fine song about an Irish maid. Looking at the lyrics, this may also be one of those songs referred to by Jonathan as a disguised ode to Ireland.

"A small wee bit of Blarney, sent from Erins Isle so fair
Oh! my heart is in Kilkenny, And I wish I too had stayed.
Girls are many but not any like my Irish maid.

This song is from a Rodgers Brothers production titled "In Ireland". The lovely lady on the cover is Bessie De Voie.

Hear this lovely fragment.

Be sure to visit this month's gallery for more songs, including "My Wild Irish Rose".



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