Harps, Exiles, & Hope: Three Irish Music CDs

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Mar 08, 2010 / 1 comments

Harps, Exiles, & Hope: Three Irish Music CDs

There are many familiar songs dusted of and sung around Saint Patrick’s Day. While there are reasons they are well known and will loved, there’s a lot more going on in Irish music than Danny Boy, When Irish Eyes are Smiling, and Whiskey in the Jar. Take a listen to these:

John Doyle and Karan Casey tell quite a few of the old stories on Exiles Return -- the false lover shows up several times, as does the ghost lover, the lovers parted by war, the emigrant dreaming of home, the man missing his girl back in Ireland, and others whose stories may be familiar. Doyle and Casey focus on the emotional weight and content of these songs with both conviction and subtlety that well serves the stories told and their lasting lessons. She sings, he plays guitar and sings as well. Standout tracks include the title cut, Exiles Return, as well as The Bay of Biscay, Madam I’m a Darling, and The Shipyard Slips.


John Doyle and Karan Casey - Exiles Return


Grainne Hambly and William Jackson each play the harp. She’s from Mayo in Ireland, he hails from Glasgow in Scotland. No surprise then that their all instrumental album is called Music from Ireland and Scotland. It is, in fact a lively conversation in music between the two traditions and the intertwining styles of two gifted players. Notable cuts include the Mull of the Mountain/Drummond Castle set, MacCrimmon’s Lament, and Appomattox.


Grainne Hambly and William Jackson, Music from Ireland and Scotland


The title of Tommy Sands’ recording Let the Circle Be Wide reflects both his musical vision and his interests in peace. Living in County Down on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, he has over the years seen the troubles there close at hand, and has often sought to bring in music to help heal things. That comes up in this album, as does, really, the full spectrum of Sands’ interests in music. His son Fionan and his daughter Moya back him up on a song drawn from the ancient roots of what we now know as the song Danny Boy. a song in memory of fellow musician Tommy Makem, the challenging and inspiring Make Those Dream Come True, and his celebration of home and homecoming in Carlingford Bay.


Tommy Sands - Let the Circle Be Wide


Three varied aspects of irish music -- listen and enjoy.



Kerry Dexter is the Music Editor for Wandering Educators.

Kerry's credits include VH1, CMT, the folk music magazine Dirty Linen, Strings, and The Encyclopedia of Ireland and the Americas. She also writes about the arts and creative practice at Music Road. You may reach her at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

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