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Song for Ireland

[ Roud - ; DT FORIRLND ; Mudcat 105550 ; Phil and June Colclough]

Dick Gaughan sang Phil and June Colclough’s Song for Ireland on his 1981 Topic album, Handful of Earth. A 1892 live recording from the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, next to Harvard University Campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was released in 2019 on his Greentrax album The Harvard Tapes. Gaughan noted on the first album:

Written by Phil Colclough. I love this, and love singing it. Thanks, Phil.

and on his now defunct website:

I first heard this sung by Sean Cannon and asked him about it. I was quite surprised to learn it had been written by Phil and June, who I had known for years. They’d been with the Critics Group, the group based around MacColl and Seeger at the Singers’ Club in London. I don’t think it could have been written by anyone Scots or Irish as it is not an inside view but there is something about it which appeals to us, with its echoes of Yeats. The guitar tuning used was DADGAD.

Mary Black sang Song for Ireland on her 1984 album Collected.

Heather Heywood sang Song for Ireland in 1987 on her Greentrax album Some Kind of Love. She noted:

The oral tradition has a way of filtering out poor songs and passing on the strongest. This song is a modern one but one which I am sure will stand the test of time. It is a simple love song inspired by the natural beauty of Ireland. The dream of “a land where no-one has to fight” is one we would all share, but somehow we always manage to screw things up in the end.


Dick Gaughan sings Song for Ireland

Walking all the day
By tall towers where falcons build their nests
Silver-winged they fly
They know the call of freedom in their breasts
Saw Black Head against the sky
With twisted rocks that run down to the sea

Chorus (after each verse):
Living on your western shore
Saw summer sunsets, asked for more
I stood by your Atlantic sea
And sang a song for Ireland

Drinking all the day
In old pubs where fiddlers love to play
Saw one touch the bow
And he played a reel which seemed so grand and gay
We stood on Dingle Beach and cast
In wild foam we found Atlantic bass

Talking all the day
With true friends who try to make you stay
Telling jokes and news
And singing songs to pass the time away
We watched the Galway salmon run
Like silver darting, dancing in the sun

Dreaming in the night
I saw a land where noone had to fight
But waking in your dawn
I saw you crying in the morning light
While lying where the falcons fly
They twist and turn all in your air-blue sky