Category Archives: Music


A new song that I’ve written.


I lie awake and I’m pondering


Where the money goes

I think of times I was following


The Emperor’s new clothes

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Filed under Music, Uncategorized


My latest song …


I remember you told me

You were born on a ship at sea

All the oceans we’ve explored

Since the day I climbed on board

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Filed under Ireland, Music


A new song that I’ve written.


You can’t drive a straight mile on a crooked road
Or walk away from reaping what you’ve sowed
Or fill your head with other people’s stuff
Because their dreams will never be enough

You will try
To live a life of peace
With love that will increase
The summer’s golden glow

When the dark
Of night will take its toll
The hope that’s in your soul
Will let you

Echoing the songs of long ago
Love will grow
When it’s time to start again you’ll go
With the flow

All the things you’ve done are in the past
All the days are flying by so fast
Still you try to read another sign
The time has come for crossing one more line

Soon the sun
Will bring another day
The night will fade away
New flowers will start to grow

And the life
That brings them out to play
Will find some other way
To flow


Filed under Ireland, Music, Uncategorized

Christy Moore and tribalism

I watched the second part of the Christy Moore Journey documentary tonight, having watched the first part at the weekend. I’ve always liked Christy and his music: he is a man who clearly cares about a lot of people, but I wish he were not so selective in his caring.

A teenage girl who dies giving birth in a grotto will have a song written about her; names of the Birmingham Six and the victims of Bloody Sunday will be recited in songs. That is right and proper. But teenage girls killed by the IRA in Birmingham and children killed by the IRA in Warrington will not have a song written about them. Their names will not be recited. They are of the wrong tribe for compassion or for outrage. Neither will members of the ‘right’ tribe have their names recited if they were killed by the same tribe. Mary Travers, a 22-year-old Catholic teacher, was murdered by the IRA as she left a church. Christy won’t be writing a song about her.

Christy cares about injustices in Latin America, and that’s good. In our own situation, though, his songs show that he cares only about Irish nationalist victims – not about the victims of Irish nationalism. This is tribalism.

If you want to be a tribalist, that’s fine. Just don’t pretend to be something else altogether – a humanitarian, for example.

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Filed under Ireland, Music, Politics

Headstone …



Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories, Music

Father and Son

Some years ago we bought Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman CD, mainly for the very brief title track, which was featured at the end of each episode of Extras and which we all (all four of us, that is) really liked. Another track on the album, which of course I already knew well, was ‘Father and Son’.

The CD has been playing in the car quite a lot recently, and I have been paying more attention than of old to the words in ‘Father and Son’, which alternate between the father’s and son’s points of view.

The father is counselling calmness and conservatism (‘It’s not time to make a change’). The son is complaining about deficiencies in his upbringing. Among the son’s lines are:

How can I try to explain?

When I do he turns away again
It’s always been the same, same old story
From the moment I could talk
I was ordered to listen

All the times that I’ve cried

Keeping all the things I knew inside … Continue reading


Filed under Ireland, Memories, Music, Philosophy of life

Ted Hawkins (1936–1995)

A piece I wrote some years ago …

In 1987 my girlfriend (not yet wife) and I moved out of Dublin city and into a rented bungalow in a small village 17 miles to the north. The main attraction was the large garage where we could do the screenprinting and signwriting that sustained us at the time. The economy of the area depended on fishing and market gardening … a big change from city life.

Soon we met a friendly young couple from Birmingham who lived round the corner, and started to drink and play chess with them. It wasn’t long before the male half of the couple said ‘Have you ever heard of Ted Hawkins?’ We hadn’t.

He loaned us a cassette of Watch Your Step, and we listened to it all the time while working in the garage … I associate it with the smell of paint and of the roll-up cigarettes that my wife smoked at the time (as did our new friends). The songs were varied, often quirky and strangely catchy; Hawkins’ guitar-playing was rudimentary but his voice was superb … harsh yet vulnerable, and full of raw emotion. Continue reading


Filed under Ireland, Memories, Music

Moving Hearts, Irish laws and first-person pronouns

[I first posted this piece on another blogsite a few years ago]

Moving Hearts were an Irish rock band of the early 1980s that grew out of the revival of traditional music in the previous couple of decades. They made some great music on drums, guitars, bouzouki, sax and uileann pipes, but never quite captured their live brilliance on vinyl. I went to see them many times in Dublin pub venues.

They used to do one song that I didn’t like then and don’t like now, partly because of its dirge-like sound but especially on account of the lyrics. The song is ‘Irish Ways and Irish Laws’ (I WAIL (!)), by a man named John Gibbs.

It is a saga of victimhood: the sort of thing that certain anti-Irish bigots like to claim that all Irish people indulge in all the time. (In fact there was an advanced and sophisticated system of Irish law that pre-dated the Norman invasion and carried on in parallel with the Norman/English system for centuries, but that is not the point.) Continue reading

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Filed under History, Ireland, Music, Politics

Love You and I Always Will


This is a simple little song that I’ve written, sung here with no accompaniment. To listen, please click here:


All the leaves are falling down
On the fields and in the town
The cup of life is hard to fill
Love you and I always will

I can hear some people say
They’re sad to see you’ve gone away
As I’m climbing up the hill
Love you and I always will

Love you all the way and back
What you have is what I lack
Memories are not a proper meal

I’ve four seasons in each day
From September up to May
Summer rain or winter chill
Love you and I always will

That old magic is still in
Air I breathe and on my skin
Birds that sang are singing still
Love you and I always will

Time will pass, the months and years
Will fall down around my ears
But the way I feel will never change


Filed under Death, Memories, Music

Running in the Dark


This is a new song: to listen to it, please click here: Running in the Dark


You are an echo in the entrance hall
You are a song that I can’t quite recall
It once was playing
As we made our rounds

You are the laughter from another floor
You are the moon behind the sycamore
That is swaying
In the castle grounds

You had no fear of running in the dark
And when you lost your way it left no mark
I sometimes thought that you had gone too far
But I would like to wind up where you are

You’re consolation for the deepest loss
In a world that’s carrying a cross
Still a broken
Heart can be raised up

You are a kindness that has been repaid
You are a celebrating cavalcade
When a local
Team has won the cup

When the rain has fallen
We’ll watch the flood
From our universe of flesh and blood
When the cards are dealt we’ll get on with the game
But everything has changed
And nothing … nothing … nothing remains the same

You had no fear of running in the dark
And when you lost your way it left no mark
I sometimes thought that you had gone too far
But I would like to wind up where you are


Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories, Music