Raised on songs and stories

There are few songs, at least in modern times that evoke as much feel for the Irish than the great Pete St John’s “Rare old times”. The line that strikes at the core is the iconic “Raised on songs and stories” I think it is what separates a true Irishman from the rest.

raised on songs and stories

This Saturday night last I went to the local Irish Cultural Center in Canton Ma. to hear a young girl and her acoustic guitar play a few tunes. The bar was full of Rugby players fresh off the pitch and some aspiring footballers taking in some pre season practice. The songs she sang were mainly American country songs with a few pop hits thrown in. I know, I know, what does this have to do with Raised on songs and stories? Be patient I’ll get there.

When the boys are fresh off a match, or watching a match, the discussions and attentions in the pub afterwards are about the match. The music is an after thought, a nice after thought, but not the main attraction.

raised on songs and stories

The young lady did know one Irish traditional song, and with a slight introduction that it was her father’s favorite song and hoped she did it the justice it deserved she belted out her version of “Grace”. Well you know those Rugby players all stopped their banter as a really nice, passionate, version of “Grace” caught them. At the songs conclusion, a round of applause from all, a bless his soul for Jim McCann for he has recently passed, and did she know any Luke Kelly.


Raised on songs and stories, The songs about Irish heroes forever retold in music, forever appreciated by generations young and old. The telling of the story is important, the singing of the song is important, that doing the song the respect it deserves is of utmost importance. I suppose that’s what Pete ST. John instinctively knew when he wrote that line, that all Irish are held together with a thread of story and song.

Not a bad way to be raised at all, I can think of no better,



New Irish music release, Billy Treacy

New Irish Music “Head above Water” by Billy Treacy

What’s harder than learning your musical craft, gigging around the pubs of Dublin, becoming a mainstay at The Dublin Ha’Penny Bridge Inn, forging your own way in the musical world, Irish and otherwise, and going forth with a new Irish Music release?

New Irish music

Not much.

Well maybe getting the word out comes close. So thanks to a pre release copy of Billy’s CD Head above Water, this humble blog will hopefully help this talented artist’s music be heard.

How to describe Head above Water,

Let me count the ways,

  1. First off it’s a little bit of Folk Rock with songs like “Sick and tired” and “Woe” that definitely have a Dylan feel to them.
  2. Then their are some nice balladeering love songs like “Audrey” and “Days past”
  3. A few Traditional Irish folk songs 2 to be more specific, “Sam Hal” and a nice version of the “Parting Glass” paying homage to his roots no doubt.
  4. Even some trad tunes running along side his description of the Temple Bar night life on “Temple Bar”

All in all a nice tightly conceived and produced CD. This is definitely a contemporary work, these tunes would be as comfortable in The US as in Dublin. Except for the two old traditional Irish folk tunes all other of the songs were written and arranged by Billy Treacy. His commentary on the current affairs of his part of the world are universal in their meaning and strike a common chord amongst all free men.

Billy Treacy can be reached at his website www.billytreacy.com

Maybe it’s time to reach out to the hardworking musicians out there as they keep the song tradition alive and contact his website and give his CD a go.

I would like to thank Billy for his reaching out to this humble blog and for letting us hear his head above water Cd just before Its launch date of April 15.

Good Luck.



Doherty not Clinton for president.

Hillary Clinton has made it official, she wants to rule America.
I wish for something else.

I propose Glen Doherty for president over Hillary Clinton. You do remember Glen Doherty?
A nice Irish name Doherty.
A nice Irish-American boy Glen Doherty.

But why would you Choose Glen Doherty over Hillary Clinton, let’s compare.

1. Glen Doherty put his life on the line for his country and faced death to free American lives in Benghazi.

Hillary Clinton lied, ignored the Threat in Benghazi, leading to the Death Of the American Ambassador Chris Stephens.

2. Glen Doherty Taught White water rafting.

Hillary tried to swindle people in The White Water Real estate deal in Arkansas.

3. Glen Doherty Loved life, loved adventure, loved his friends and his country

Hillary Clinton loves power, loves money, loves rationalizing, loves the ends she loves, by any means.
Don’t ask me, ask the people she has touched, ask Vince Foster former personal lawyer, ask Ambassador Stephens,
Ask Ty Woods, hell ask some of their friends like Ron Brown or personal body guards, but unfortunately they are like Glen Doherty, dead, and un able to answer.

4. Glen Doherty made a pact to become a Navy Seal if he had not found his calling by the age of thirty.

Hillary made a pact to cover up bimbo eruptions for her husband. Funny how the war on women folks never mention the lives of women destroyed by the dynamic Clinton duo.
Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, and of course Monica. But as long as their prodigy is safe that’s all that matters.

5. Glen traveled from Tripoli to Benghazi to aid his fellow Seal Ty woods and come to the aid of Ambassador Stephens and staff at the sovereign American soil of the US Embassy.

Hillary took control of the White house travel office, fires Billy Dale, tries to frame him for embezzlement. The ends justify the means, there was money to be made in the travel office and she wanted her people in there.

Ah Money. The root of all evil? No. The Root of her greed, probably.
Cattle futures —-$1,000 turns to $100,000—Cattlegate
White water—— may never Know–because of File gate—Billing recordsgate–

Then there is current income

According to Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton has made a whopping twelve million dollars since she left the Department of State 16 months ago. This comes from three primary sources: her latest memoir, her speeches, and her appearances for companies.

Her latest memoir, Ha- How much was sales and how much was bribe, er, advance–
“Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed last night to sell Simon & Schuster a memoir of her years as first lady, for the near-record advance of about $8 million.

Then of course there are the speeches, 27 speeches that is. Can you guess how much a speech from the wife of a former president and incompetent secretary of state is worth?

if you said $100 dollars an hour you would be wrong.

if you said $1000 dollars a speech you would be wrong.

$10,000? No

$100,00? No but we are half way there

Yes 200,000 a pop, mostly to Universities and woman’s groups. So glad tuitions are increasing to pay for these inspirational verbiage. But, in the end if some one is going to pay her, God love her, she believes in good old capitalism, for herself anyways. I’m sure her appearances to the hated corporations have no strings attached.

And then there is the Clinton foundation, maybe after they investigate more about this money trail we may know more about the reason of her Benghazi lies. Lots of foreign money from that part of the world coming in to this “charitable” foundation.

But what do I know, I’m just a guy who likes Irish music, and freedom.

My advice is to use this internet thing and investigate your choices, while the internet is still allowed to give all sides to issues, and make up your own mind.

As for me I would vote for a deceased Navy Seal who loved his country over Mrs. Clinton in a heartbeat, If only Glen Doherty had the same choice.

This site will return to it’s main goal of Irish music next week.



New Irish songs and Irish artists

Now that another year has wrapped up, meaning The St. Patrick’s Day Irish music extravaganzas have subsided, it’s time to recall the new Irish songs and Irish singers who are making their mark in the music world.

New Irish songs

We’ll Start off with Billy Treacy.

Billy has a new cd on the way, which we’ll review soon, but my hats off to Mr Treacy and their friends who are gigging in Dublin and marketing like all get out. The music business is a tough one, the hardest part might be the plugging yourself and keeping your nose to the grindstone while you “wait” to be discovered. That being said Here’s Billy Treacy with his song “Woe”.

The next new Irish song was sent in from a reader of this humble blog.

James Gallagher proud Galway man.

While trying to upload this video of Mr. Gallagher I came across a Busking documentary where He is interviewed. It was reassuring to hear his opinion on Irish music. You could feel he loved the Irish folk tradition, and was proud to carry on the tradition.  It made my heart feel good to hear a true Irish folk artist who was happy to sing the Irish songs people want to hear.

The Next New Irish song or more precise new Irish singers of old Irish songs, We’ll revisit the lads from Drogheda, Robbed and Lynched


And we’ll end this little tidbit of Irish music with my favorite Irish traditional band The Ivy Leaf. to be more accurate it would be The Ivy Leaf and friends recorded at a house concert in Boston. I especially like the Flute playing in this video.

So If you are a struggling Irish artist send in a link and we’ll spread the word.

If you happen to be a lover of Irish music well checkout these new Irish artists, share, like, link. Find out where they are playing, buy some of their music, they don’t call them struggling artist for no reason.




Spuds potatoes and snow madness

Ok sometimes I just get bored and silly. So in the name of nothing too substantial and for a bit of fun we have a little song of spuds for you. Sung to the tune of winter wonderland in honor of winter hopefully relenting, I beg you remember the tune and the changes in the tune so hopefully the words fit the melody.


spuds in transition







Eating Taters With Another side of Spuds.

(sung to the tune of winter wonderland)


The dinner bell rings, and I’m hoping.

For spuds boiled, fried, or roasting,

A dinner delight,

We’re having tonight,

Eating taters with another side of spuds.


Some say chicken, beef, or che-ese,

Maybe cabbage, kale, or p-eas,

But give me that starch,

it helps to march,

Eating taters with another side of spuds


On the table their is mashed and roasties, a side of colcannon is just right.

Maybe then we’ll all be having  boxty?

Nothing could be a better sight.

Later on we’ll retire,

To a plate ever higher,

Crisps filled to the brim, Some for her and for him

Eating taters with another side of spuds


On the table there is mashed and roasties,

No way it could be a better bite,

We’ll have fun with all the mashed and  roasties

Add a side of crisps to make it right.


When spuds grow,

The ground is tilling

Smelling champ is so thrilling

Eating curry and chips, crisps and some dip

Eating taters with another side of spuds


Eating taters with another side of spuds

Eating taters with another side of spuds.


Yes the snow has finally gotten to my senses, thank God spring is on the way and the sun has strengthened to melt that white stuff. If anyone els has come to their wits end, or perhaps has a rhyme or poem they would like to share, leave a comment and share share share.


Gobnait O’Lúnasa.

Happy St Patricks Day from Boston

Happy St Patricks Day.

In Boston we have loudmouth politicians

St. Patricks Day Boston






Some who think they’re Irish and some who are of Irish descent.

In Boston we have a wonderful St Patricks Day Parade, Really makes you want to show your pride.

Happy St Patricks day Boston







The hard part is finding a good seat, so to speak.

Happy St. Patricks Day Boston








So with all due respect to Saint Patrick,

St. Patricks Day Boston







The Best Part of St Patricks Day Boston, is the music.

You would have a hard time beating Saturdays show of Shannon and Matt Heaton, John Coyne, and Joey Arbata with their trad, played so well.

You would have a hard time beating Paul Kenny and Patsy Whelan with the knockout combination of dynamite vocals and hot instrumentals playing the mix of Folk classics I need to hear for St Patricks Day.

But my favorite music is heard around the kitchen counter in my own house, No the notes are not as pure as the pro’s, but the feeling is pure, pure fun. It’s the day Gerry Hailler is Irish and pulls out the guitar and plays his best backing to “The old triangle”, “Finnegan’s wake”, and even McGinnty’s Goat. It’s the day my youngest who used to be one of the kids relegated to the cellar, now is singing a sweet version of “Grace”. It’s the day when our oldest daughter after playing around the pubs of Boston gets to play a slow air for the old man. It’s the day when I am allowed to sing a song or two myself, a passable version of “The Water is Wide” or “A man you don’t meet everyday”.

But after the meal is consumed and the songs are sung and a pint or two is consumed, after all in the house go to bed and it’s just me and Arthur Guinness rummaging through the cds, I pick out my favorites.

The parting glass is poured and Paddy Reilly is selected and the day is extended for just one more song.



Orthodox Celts Paddys day in Belgrade

For those who don’t know how to celebrate St. Patricks Day you might want to check out the Orthodox Celts. I was checking out their website and found this new release available for download and was blown away. So many artists from around the world not only carry on the Irish tradition of music but blaze a trail of pure joy, passion, and fierceness.

It does my heart good to know that while Ireland’s emigrant sons and daughters will be striking a blow for freedom and passing on the Irish music tradition here in Boston, that over in Belgrade, Serbia’s favorite Irish band will be rocking ST. Patricks day to the sound of the Orthodox Celts.     (Only a band of their stature deserves a run on sentence like the last one.)

Do yourself a favor and listen to a good rebel song with a Serbian brogue and powerful vocals by lead singer and powerhouse, Aleksandar Petrović – Lead VocalDejan Lalić.

Listen to good Irish reels, with Mandolins, fiddles, Bodhrans, guitars, and one of the best whistle players around, just good stuff. Yes I copied the fellows names from their website, yes my western brain has a hard time with the names of who does what, but my Irish ears don’t have any problem appreciating great Music, Great Irish Music at that.

                         The Orthodox Celts Paddys Day favorite


Aleksandar Petrović – Lead VocalDejan Lalić – Octave Mandola, Mandolin, Back VocalsNikola Stanojević – ViolinBojan Petrović – Whistles, Back VocalsVladan Jovković – Acc. Guitar, Back VocalsDejan Grujić – Bass, Back VocalsDušan Živanović – Drums,

So I’m off to get the feast ready for the 17th, ready to have mobs filled with Irish pride strike a blow for ……………..


Orthodox celts


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all.

You might also like this previous article about the Orthodox Celts. Orthodox Celts rock irish music.




March 17 is coming fast, learn an Irish song.

March 17 is coming and it’s time to prepare. I’m not talking about cleaning the parlor, scrubbing the fridge, or swabbing the commode, though my wife might disagree. No a more important task needs to be addressed- It’s time to learn a new Irish song.

Don’t be caught of guard this St. Patrick’s Day, don’t be that guy, You know that guy who knows some of the chorus of a few famous songs but thinks he knows them all. It kind of goes like this-

“Oh I love that song, let me see how does it go?”  “Low lies the fields of Athenry where ah no I know it, how does that go, low lies the field of Athenry where once I listened to Freebird live, No that’s not it, let me try another.”

March 17

That’s not how it goes knuckle head, come on it’s almost St Paddys.




So let’s start today to prepare for March 17.

  • Pick a song you like. A good folk song performance depends on the energy and feel of the singer, and nothing helps more than singing a song you truly love
  • Find a version of the song performed by an artist you like. Know that many folk songs lyrics are different for the same song. Each artist has his own take and interpretation of a song.
  • Sing the version appropriate for you.
  • Listen to your version, notice the inflections, figure out if you can handle the high and low notes.
  • learn one stanza at a time, do not go on to a second stanza until the first is fully learned.
  • Like the Twelve days of Christmas sing your now remembered stanzas every time you learn a new stanza, ingraining the song into your memory.

So now you are ready for March 17 th, well not quite.

Good you have learned a hearty Irish song, now it’s time to make sure you have the feeling of the song. Try to envision what was going on when your favorite Irish song was penned. Some songs will be a tribute to rebel sons, some will be of futile courage, some will be of drunken maidens or hungry goats. Whatever the condition be it rebels or goats know what  the song has conveyed for all it’s history and re singing.

Be careful to pick a song you can handle, many an Irish song will have a chorus you love only to have high or lows in it’s body that are just out of mere mortals range. But again if you love the song most will forgive a strained note or two.

Don’t be surprised if your favorite Irish artist’s version and the song writers version are out of whack. A lot of artists rearrange stanzas and skip many stanzas completely, again it’s your call on what version you like.

There are a couple of common pit falls you should try to avoid.

  1. Sing with your own accent, try to avoid a forced fake Irish accent. The artists I listen to all sing with an Irish accent, you will find yourself slipping into an Irish accent on occasion. As long as you are not trying to be something you’re not, no one will hold it against you.
  2. Wait for your turn to sing, don’t force your way in.
  3. Try not to sing a really long song, the point is to add to the revelry not to make peoples eyes roll back into their heads.

So this March 17 be prepared, have your Irish song at the ready, shock your friends and family and let that song out. It’s a lot of fun.


Beware before ordering that Guinness!

Yes Beware. In my thirty three years of partaking of the black stuff there have been many a bad pour. Please I implore you to heed this warning and properly vet your local constabulary on the proper care handling and pouring of this Irish staple.

Plastic cups.

Leave, run, hide, and never darken the halls of what ever fictional bar that would serve Guinness in a plastic cup. My normal answer to any hotel barkeep or festival operator who plans on serving me Arthur Guinness’s pride and joy in a plastic cup is—give me a Budweiser. I mean what’s the point.

Nitrogen gas.

A lesser known fact is that a barrel of Guinness to properly cascade down a properly chosen Imperial pint glass requires a draught system that utilizes nitrogen and CO2 gases. For the Guinness to cascade down the glass and form it’s distinctive head you need to have the increased pressure which the addition of Nitrogen gas to the system allows

Double pour.

If you are in a hurry a proper pint of Guinness may not be the best choice, a pint of Guinness takes what is called a double pour. The tulip glass or modern Guinness glass is filled almost 3/4s full then let to rest, to form it’s magic, to cascade down the sides, to grow anticipation. Once the glass has settled it is topped off with a reverse push of the tap to fill the glass, ending in a creamy headed pint. If your bartender fills your glass on a straight pour you have three options,

  1. Run away
  2. Send it back
  3. Open a proper pub next door.

Temperature of Guinness.

Guinness is served cool around 45 degrees, it can be served a bit colder and in Ireland mostly, you will also find Guinness extra cold being served, both are good. A warm Guinness is not a good thing. It can mean the kegs aren’t stored properly, the lines to the kegs are too far from the tap, or that the pub doesn’t serve Guinness regularly and it could be stale.

What is a pint glass?

A pint glass for Guinness holds more than a pint. It is an imperial pint or 20 ounces. A properly poured Guinness is poured in a 20 ounce pint glass not a 16 ounce pint glass. Now on to more controversy. A 20 ounce tulip glass was the standard container for a properly poured pint, then Guinness came out with their modern day version of the same. Sleeker modern 20 ounce pint glass that I must concede is still not as comfortable or welcoming as the old tulip glass. Others however love the glass so I might just be nostalgic. There are other Imperial pint glasses whose shapes might hinder the cascading effect of Guinness but still work in an acceptable way. I will say though that a Magners glass just doesn’t do it for me, odd shape thin on the bottom.

Ok, So you have your double poured Guinness in a proper 20 ounce pint glass served at the proper temperature with a draught system that has the proper proportion of CO2 and Nitrogen gas feeds, you are all set right, not quite.


Even the best poured Guinness can be ruined by your surroundings. A well poured Guinness can overcome some of the fake Irish pubs that are out there, but tragically these plastic pubs tend to sell Guinness poorly and pour Guinness poorly.

Warning signs of a plastic paddy pub.

  1. Four leaf Clover instead of a Shamrock.
  2. Happy St. Patty’s Day.
  3. Irish nachos.
  4. Green beer.

The good news is with a little tolerance that  properly poured Guinness can still be enjoyed.

What makes a good pub.

  1. Poors a good Guinness
  2. has a good Irish session on days besides St Patrick’s Day
  3. You can have a nice chat.
  4. Has a friendly feel to it.
  5. Bartenders are happy to have you as a customer.
  6. Customers are in for a social event not a binge.

In the end everyone has an opinion about what makes a place good. Some of my favorite places are tiny hole in the wall pubs that have provided some of the best Irish traditional music and perfectly poured pints a man could want. The key point being that perfectly poured pint, as in the end after heeding the warning signs nothing really beats it.

Guinness and Irish music















I’m Irish, embracing my Irish roots.

I'm Irish in AmericaOk I realize I just spent a whole post explaining to we American tourists that we are not Irish, but… that’s in Ireland

In the good old U S of A we have many roots that keep our American family tree straight and strong. I like to think the strongest deepest roots are those transplanted from that Island to the east, Ireland.


Things that Ireland and America have in common.

  • British tyranny.
  • Mostly common language
  • Religion
  • Love of Liberty.

Now there are books written by historians and scholars much wiser and more learned than I, explaining the American revolution, the Continental Congress, the ethnic make up of revolutionary times, the Dutch, the French, The Germans, The English. The Crown eventually chose to exercise it’s control and force the colonies to submit to it’s terms. And the resulting revolution is, well, History. In this virgining Republic a free people were established endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and best yet an opportunity to be free.

It was/is this promise for Liberty that propelled so many to America’s shores.

Skipping forward to today, we get to let time soften the horrendous times many Irish suffered along the way. We instead get to revel in the traditions our forefathers believed were important enough to pass on from generation to generation.

Music, Food, Story, Good Cheer, Doom, sayings and proverbs.

I’m Irish because I enjoy all my heritage has to offer.

Irish music, I especially like Irish folk music, CD’s of Luke Kelly, Paddy Reilly, The Dubliners, The Fury’s, The Dublin City Ramblers, and the trad- Irish traditional music full of reels, jigs, hornpipes, airs, fiddles, flutes, bodhrans, accordions, pipes, just awesome.

Irish foods, In my neck of the woods we have good Irish tea, Barrys by name. Irish soda bread on special occasions mostly at St. Paddys Day. A bag of taytos on occasion, a crunchy bar, maybe a flake. Now in homage to my Immigrant ancestors we have the traditional Irish American meal of St. Patricks day Corned beef and Cabbage on of course St Patricks day. Might want to check out (How to cook corned Beef)

Favorite Irishisms, “Glory be to God it’s a beautiful day”  –  “I’d give a month of cold days if I could only see the sun” – “Ah, she’s a big woman”- “wee goat”- “jeesus what an eejit” Oh and then there are some nice proverbs like the Irish blessing, and knowing your lucky enough to be Irish. And of course “Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy that sustained him through temporary periods of joy”.

I’m Irish because it is a hoot to be Irish,

As long as you remember you are Irish American, I always thought that phrase should be turned around to read American of Irish, that might solve some of the confusion.

Now There are people who go overboard, I remember in My Irish gift shop a customer or two would go on about The English and Irish history and the problems in the north like they lived in Belfast or Dublin. They thought they were more Irish than the Irish themselves, but that’s the way things go sometimes.

So why do we sons and daughters of emigrants past call ourselves Irish?

Again it goes back to the roots of that American Family Tree. there are many roots but only the best that are Irish. America has a population of 320,000,000 people 30,000,000 million of which have a claim to Irish heritage.  When you are one in 300 million you look for ways to differentiate yourself a bit. One way is by national heritage. Then it depends on how far removed you might be. I’ve a friend born in Galway, an American citizen, who plays hockey with me, most on the team don’t know his name, he’s “that Irish guy”.


I’m Irish because there isn’t an insult or a stereo type that can hurt me and for the most part makes me laugh.

Irish stereotypes;

Potato eater.   God love you, I’ll have a side of fries with those mashed potatoes please.

Drinkers.         Though this can get a bit carried away, I think the problem stems from all the others not being able to handle their grog. I’ll take a nice pint of plain, it gives you strength and it’s good for your health

Fighters.          Much rather have a person willing to mix it up rather than be cowardly.

Dumb Mic.      I was never able to figure this one out, perhaps I need to get my doctorate.


So in the end enjoy your Irish heritage. Plan a visit to Ireland and enjoy that beautiful piece of earth. Take the time to find a venue and hear a good Irish session. Dare I say it, strike a blow for freedom and raise a pint to revolutionaries for liberty with a properly poured Guinness,