Looking for suggestions for a tune to be incorporated into an Irish poetry night

Looking for suggestions for a tune to be incorporated into an Irish poetry night

With St Patrick’s Day looming, our local poetry group has ‘Ireland and Irish’ as its theme next month.
I have a (B/C) melodeon and would like to somehow incorporate that into my performance. It doesn’t necessarily have to be poetry and I am sure a song would be ok, although I am hardly a singer.
I wonder if you can offer any ideas?

Re: Looking for suggestions for a tune to be incorporated into an Irish poetry night

Down By The Sally Gardens comes to mind. A lovely old air, with only two lyrics by W.B.Yeats. Interleave a short explanation of what is a sally garden & who is Yeats, playing the melody, recite a lyric, repeat melody, 2nd lyric, melody, close with 1st lyric. Singing optional, but might be appreciated. Maybe other Yeats work on the program?

Re: Looking for suggestions for a tune to be incorporated into an Irish poetry night

Okay…any guesses as to which poets and poems may be read?

The theme of the night is rather too general to make a specific suggestion without knowing more about who will be read during the evening.

If it’s Yeats, for example, I would suggest any number of old harp tunes for his romantic poems or ones with ties to ancient mythology (e.g., Stolen Child, The Song of Wandering Aengus). For his poetic commentary on the events leading up to, including, and in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising, well, I would be inclined to look at certain patriotic songs, albeit the sort that are tempered by great sorrow, since he was himself badly upset by certain turns of events. Of course, Down by the Sally Gardens is a total gimme and dead obvious if you’re going to read one of his love poems to Maude Gonne.

If Heaney, well that’s a different ball of wax.

If you’re not particularly bothered about history and your audience isn’t either, any ol’ shite will do…

Re: Looking for suggestions for a tune to be incorporated into an Irish poetry night

I would think any tune you already play decently would be great. Maybe a slow, contemplative piece would fit the poetic mood (although I could well have the wrong idea about the kind of poetry your group shares). You could try an O’Carolan-ish tune like “Princess Royale” or “Blind Mary”. The set dance “Saint Patrick’s Day” could work, or the jig “The Knights of Saint Patrick.”

Re: Looking for suggestions for a tune to be incorporated into an Irish poetry night

There’s literally no end of songs - but Raglan Road by Padreag Whatsisname has elements of modern poetry woven into its conventional form.

Re: Looking for suggestions for a tune to be incorporated into an Irish poetry night

Ed Reavy introduced poetic references into his tune titles. I’ll copy in some notes from the ABC compilation file - these two tunes might therefore be of interest, with the accompanying words:
Z:Joe Reavy
N:Never Was Piping So Gay. The concluding line
N:of O‘Driscoll’s refrain in Yeats’ poem, the
N:Host of the air. O’Driscoll dreamed that
N:his wife Bridget was taken by the Host
N:as he was playing harmlessly at cards with
N:“the merry old men.” When O’Driscoll
N:awoke from his dream,all that remained of the
N:dream was the strange unearthly sound of a pipe
N:piping away in the distant air-
N:"And never was piping so sad, And
N:never was piping so gay."

T:Love At The Endings
M:2/2
L:1/8
C:Ed Reavy
S:The Collected Compostions of Ed Reavy
R:Reel
N:Who can forget the impassioned speech of
N:O‘Killigan in O’Casey’s Purple Dust,
N:especially when he sets out to
N:woo Avril away from her British lord.
N:O’Killigan has only the simple
N:things in his favor. But Avril finally
N:succumbs to his grand talk as
N:he urges her “to spit out what’s here”
N:and make a home with him out
N:in the west of Ireland where they’ll
N:both find "things to say and
N:things to do, and love at the endings."
Z:Joe Reavy

Re: Looking for suggestions for a tune to be incorporated into an Irish poetry night

Beaten to it on “Down by the Sally Gardens” and “Raglan Road”.
A nice finisher, tho’ lyrics are by Scotsman, Ewan McVicar, is “All the Tunes in the World” to the tune of “Southwind”.

Re: Looking for suggestions for a tune to be incorporated into an Irish poetry night

I agree with “Down by the Salley Gardens.” Another good air is “The Last Rose of Summer.”

Re: Looking for suggestions for a tune to be incorporated into an Irish poetry night

“The Lark in the Clear Air” - Samuel Ferguson poem and beautiful tune.

Re: Looking for suggestions for a tune to be incorporated into an Irish poetry night

Another fine old poem later set to music is “An Bonnán Buí”, written by Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna (1680 – 1756), and now in the sean-nós cannon. The tune, as well as the words in Irish (and a link to an English translation) are all here: https://thesession.org/tunes/13289 but note that there are different tunes listed there. The second setting is the tune from the sean-nós singing of Seosamh Ó hÉanaí (Joe Heaney).