My Dark Rosaleen and the Island of Dreams – Behind the Work

My Dark Rosaleen and the Island of Dreams was an album that I released on the EMI label in the spring of 2008. It was in a way a fore-runner to the album I will be releasing this year called 100 Snow White Horses in that the album was dedicated to my mother Mary who passed away that year and I was also exploring the theme of Ireland being a woman, and the bardic themes of the female personification of the island in the form of Dark Rosaleen, Róisín Dubh, Éire, Banba and Fodhla and the other Goddesses that have been associated with Ireland in the Gaelic literary tradition.

The title track was my own musical setting of a famous poem by James Clarence Mangan which is his translation of the big Gaelic song Róisín Dubh. The other big songs on the album were my big love song There Was A Man, Rise Up Lovely Molly, which is composed of the names of Irish traditional tunes, and Gortatagort (The Farm) which was covered widely by my hero Chisty Moore and has been widely used by associations interested in the field and place names of Ireland. There’s a song there called Christmas Day which I’ve had the pleasure of hearing on the radio on that special day. And a song called Ireland Free where I’m joined by Damien Dempsey, that champion chanter. This song calling for Irish unity is much loved by many people but was attacked in the Irish Times as being “doggerel verse’!
2008 was the year of the crash when the Celtic Tiger hit the invisible iceberg. There was much turmoil, huge emigration, suicide, bankruptcy. Through a series of complicated events I released a second album that same year called Irish Songs We Learned At School which became a huge seller and My Dark Rosaleen and the Island of Dreams got overshadowed by this success.
Here’s the track listing. I look forward to singing all these songs this Thursday March 4th in de Barras Folk Club, Clonakilty.
There Was A Man
Rise Up Lovely Molly
Ireland Free
Not My Love
Gortatagort (The Farm)
One Morning In May
Dark Rosaleen
When You And I Were True
Who Will Burn Brightly
The Ghost Of Billy Mulville
Christmas Day
Beautiful Ballincollig
John Spillane My Dark Rosaleen and THe Island of Dreams ALbum Cover

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