November 28, 2009


It has been found. Thank you, youtube.

I think it was from the early 1970s. My mother, like so many Irish, would listen to various Irish radio programs. They could be heard on college stations like Bronx based WFUV, whose FM signal was barely strong enough to push past the Manhattan skyscrapers into Bay Ridge. The Sunday night program was hosted by Adrian Flannery I think. If you positioned the radio just so, you could hear a song or two. Then the signal would shift again, and you'd get more static than song. You'd fiddle with the controls, move the radio around, and you'd have the signal again. Maybe.

It was from such a tenuous link that I recall the heard " Shanagolden ". For maybe two years in those old days, it was one of the most popular songs in the micro-universe of Irish-American radio. They'd play it every week.

It was written by one Sean McCarthy, a Kerry man who wrote his first song at the age of seven. Many of his songs dealt with sadness and death.

The protagonist of this song is a woman, whose husband died fighting " the Saxon stranger " in Limerick a long time ago. There are good versions by female singers, but to me the best is this one, by Brian Day.

The audio imperfections make this all the better to me. The words harken to a distant past, to long ago battles in Limerick, to long ago broadcasts from the Bronx.

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