independent

Monday 22 July 2019

Project is breathing new life into a host of Blackwater songs

Those who performed in the Blackwater Lodge, back – John Breen, Senan Lillis, Mick Doyle, John Byrne, Deirdre Tobin, Paul Tobin, Colm Brennan and Jim Connor; front – Joan Nolan, Pat Leacy, Hugh Doyle, Bridgie Whelan, Aileen Lambert and Kathleen Byrne
Those who performed in the Blackwater Lodge, back – John Breen, Senan Lillis, Mick Doyle, John Byrne, Deirdre Tobin, Paul Tobin, Colm Brennan and Jim Connor; front – Joan Nolan, Pat Leacy, Hugh Doyle, Bridgie Whelan, Aileen Lambert and Kathleen Byrne

Pádraig Byrne

It's often the case that the history of an area can be passed down through the generations through the medium of song.

That's certainly proved to be the case in Blackwater and the audience in the Blackwater Lodge were treated to a number of première performances recently as a total of fourteen traditional singers took on songs, poetry and ballads relating to the area.

'By Land & Sea' was an evening of entertainment facilitated by singer Aileen Lambert in association with the Wayside Players. Unusual for a night of traditional singing, a large proportion of the songs, while written some years back, were performed for the first time on the night. In some instances this was due to the fact that the group who worked on researching and collating songs from the area also collected poetry and existing written verse and set them to old traditional airs, literally breathing new life into them.

Among these were a piece of verse entitled 'The Battle of Ballinagore', which singer Colm Brennan set to the air of 'The Bonny Lass of Fyvie-O'. Another première was the song 'Oh, For Blackwater' which was written by Senan Lillis some 22 years ago, but just recently set to the air of Éamonn an Cnoic and was performed by Aileen on the night.

In all, seventeen songs with a connection to the area were performed, ranging from songs in praise of the village to songs chronicling the village's achievements in hurling matches and Tidy Towns competitions over the years.

Aileen was amazed by the sheer amount of material that came from the area and also the great interest that locals had in hearing them.

'Its really terrific to see how rich the area of Blackwater is in terms of traditional song heritage,' she said.

'There's a great tradition of singing our old ballads as well as writing about local heroes and events, with a bit of humour thrown in too!'

The performance concluded phase one of the Blackwater Song Project, with phase two to consist of the production of a songbook and CD containing the material.

The entire concert was recorded by Michael Fortune for folklore.ie with some clips already being uploaded to their Facebook page.

To get involved with the Blackwater Song Project, contact Aileen on 087 7552593 or Senan Lillis of The Wayside Players on 0861681429.

 

Oh, for Blackwater

Words: Senan Lillis (March 1997)

Air: Éamonn an Cnoic

Oh, silent the waters that through Blackwater flows,

Midst meadows and valleys so softly they go,

Rich landscape with wild rugged fertile a plain,

And homesteads for centuries, their culture enlain.

Oh, well we recall the men of ninety-eight,

Who with sparks fought at Oulart and at Duffry gate,

But on Vinegar’s slopes by Slaney’s red side,

On a damp summers’ morning Blackwater men died.

Oh, here’s to a people hard pressed to survive,

With stench from potato fields in the year forty-five,

But grain from the hilltops, herrings from Ballyvaloo,

As in ages of living, since Ardlarua.

Oh, the swell of the surf o’er the bank towards land,

Carving, destroying the ploughed fields of sand,

Where the call of the deep fell deaf to the cry,

On Ballyconnigar’s deep sea bed of the Pomona doth lie.

Oh, the sounds of the corncrake the distance ago,

With horse and with reaper sweet barley to mow,

A place left for nature and for men to survive,

In Blackwater’s warm vales all creatures alive.

Oh, the clash of the ash the echo still rings,

Of the leather in flight from the power of the swing,

The youth of Blackwater with traditions old flail,

Of the work and the leisure together were played.

Oh, the century dawns to the birth of the day,

In Blackwater the pulse of a proud people will stay,

The roar of the tide to remind all who pass,

The toll of the Churchbell calls its people to Mass.

Oh, silent the waters that through Blackwater flows,

Midst meadows and valleys so softly they go,

Rich landscape with wild rugged fertile a plain,

And homesteads for centuries, their culture enlain.

Gorey Guardian

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