Thursday 22 February 2018

Around the world from 'The Fields of Athenry'

Ken Sweeney

IT's an Irish anthem that's travelled the world -- and now composer Pete St John is getting some recognition for 'The Fields of Athenry' in a new documentary.

RTE has joined forces with Noel Pearson, the producer of Oscar winning film 'My Left Foot', for a special programme on the popular anthem.

"I can go anywhere in the world and people know my song. As a songwriter, it's the best calling card you could have," said St John.

First recorded in 1979 by Danny Doyle and then Paddy Reilly, the famine ballad about a man called Michael from Athenry, Co Galway, can now be heard on terraces as far afield as Liverpool, Scotland and Germany.

RTE's documentary traces the modern day popularity of the song back to Italia '90.

"It's the Irish folk song that has taken over the world. Our programme tells the story of how it happened," said a spokeswoman for Ferndale Films, Noel Pearson's company.

St John revealed the inspiration came in the late seventies while reading papers about the Famine.

'The Fields Of Athenry' will air on RTE 1 later this year.

Irish Independent

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