Monday 22 July 2019

Project breaths new life into Blackwater songs

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 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.

New Ross Standard