Internationally celebrated Irish Folk musician, artist, poet and storyteller
“In That Land”
“Come with me and I’ll take you to the land of my fathers,
Where wild heather mountains look out at the sea.
You will find hearts as kind as the soft winds of summer,
And a warm welcome waiting for you and for me”.
Well with no tours running during this strange time so I’ve been thinking, reading and writing a lot when not down on the farm.
The most obvious place to think and write about is the place you know well and mine is my own County Armagh where I was born and bred and in which I still live. Tommy Makem was born and brough up in the small linen town of Keady with Mills all around the Callan River, just 7 miles from my farm today. His mother like many mothers of the time worked in the linen factory and her singing was always welcome there. His father worked the scutch mills and he also was a fine musician therefore singing and music was a big part of the Makem County Armagh homestead.
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Maken emigrated to USA in 1955 and successfully toured the States. Tommy left the group to pursue a solo career in 1969. He settled and died in Dover, New Hampshire making frequent trips back to his beloved Ireland.
What sparked my thoughts off was when I picked up a great book I bought in a second hand shop some time ago – “Tommy Makem’s Secret Ireland.”
His love and culture of his homeland was to be heard in his songs and indeed the poetic recitations often as introductions to his songs and stories; taken mostly from great Irish scholars such as Kavanagh, Yeats and Heaney. Makem was a born storyteller with a natural ability to bring to life Ireland’s legends and heritage. His early career was with The Clancy Brothers – famed for their trademark of Aran jumpers.
He went on to perform many wonderful folk songs all over the world. So many it is difficult to pick out one for this blog but I have gone for the beautiful Gentle Annie.
You’ve often heard the saying “never forget your roots” well certainly Tommy Makem didn’t!
“Come travel to Ireland with Tommy Makem at your side and feel the very soul of the Island”