Music and Community: Stories of Ireland

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Mar 18, 2019 / 0 comments

Making sense of the shifts and changes in the world has always been one of the roles of music. This might by songs which teach; it could be through songs which offer escape. Maybe there a tune which gets people dancing together; perhaps there's an uplifting song which opens doors to community, perhaps it is a piece that expresses grief, or joy, or understanding which can be shared as the music is performed and heard. Events change, but the role of music continues on. 

Music and Community: Stories of Ireland

Music to go along with these ideas:

A set that may get you dancing comes from fiddle player Zoe Conway and guitarist John McIntyre. The set is Heath & Bernie's/Half Day Road /Reel for Jim DeWan. The tunes were composed by Irish American fiddler Liz Carroll. You may find them recorded on Zoe's album Go Mairir I Bhfad/ Long Life To You. John and Zoe are both accomplished composers themselves, too. One of their recent projects finds them collaborating with Julie Fowlis and Eamon Doorley for an album called Allt.

A song that both teaches and offers ways to share emotion comes from Aoife Scott, Roisin O, and Danny O'Reilly. They were asked to collaborate on this song during the centenary of the Easter Rising in Ireland. The leaders of the Rising were executed; the night before, Joseph Plunkett married his sweetheart Grace Gifford in Kilmainham Jail, which is where this video was recorded. Though it speaks to a specific event, I think you will find it reaches beyond that. Roisin and Danny are sister and brother; Aoife is their cousin. Each of them has a flourishing career in a different aspect of music, Roisin as a singer songwriter whose work has an alt rock sound, Danny with the rock band The Coronas, and Aoife drawing on folk tradition both in her songwriting and in the music she covers. Grace has been released as a single.

Aoife Scott takes another look history and identity in her song We Know Where We Stand. It is framed in images specific to Ireland, and works really well with that. Even if you've no interest in Ireland, though, you will find it a song about identity, resilience, and courage told with few words and powerful emotion. It is recorded on Aoife's debut album Carry the Day. At this writing, word comes that she is working on her next album.

Community is a sometimes difficult, sometimes joyous aspect of making a life in a new country. All that comes into play as Sean Keane sings Green Among the Gold. It is a story of Irish immigrants to Australia. "...and so beneath the Southern Cross they sang the songs Ireland...Irish hands have woven strands of green among the gold..."  You may find the song recorded on Sean's album Never Alone.

Powerful in its understatement, There Is Hope is another song which could be seen as framed in the landscape of Irish history, and which reaches beyond that. Aoife Clancy sings it here. She has recorded it on her album called Silvery Moon. It was written by her cousin Robbie O'Connell.  One of their recent projects, together with another cousin, Donal Clancy, is an album called The Clancy Legacy.

Music is a powerful tool for connection and understanding. May these songs help you with those things.


Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times



Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.