DUBLIN songwriter Pete St.John has written some of the great classic ballads that will be with us forever.
The Fields of Athenry can be heard at every international football game and Liverpool football supporters have even adopted and adapted it to The Fields of Liverpool, so there is no chance of that particular melody ever fading.
An even better St.John song, in my humble opinion, is The Rare Ould Times (sometimes called Dublin in the Rare Ould Times). It tells the story of a man who worked as a cooper in Guinness’ brewery all his life but was made redundant (“Like my house that fell to progress, my trade’s a memory”) and noted the changes that had taken place in his beloved hometown during his working life – a terrific piece of writing and my personal favourite of all time.
Other St. John classics that you might hear at a session include The Ferryman (“The little boats are gone from the breast of Anna Liffey, and the ferrymen are stranded on the quay”) – a song about the last of the ferryboats working on the Liffey – also the gentle love song Ringsend Rose and if you are lucky, The Mero (“And we all went up to The Mero, hey there who’s yer man?”). In case you are wondering, The Mero was a cinema in Dublin’s Mary Street.
Other songwriters whose songs might feature in a session are Dublin’s Barney Rushe whose compositions include Nancy Spain and The Crack was Ninety, or some of very talented Cork songwriter Jimmy McCarthy’s songs such as Ride On or Bright Blue Rose. Paul Brady’s powerful and intelligent The Island might also be a popular inclusion.
In true folk tradition The Troubles in Northern Ireland inevitably produced many great songs such as Phil Coulter’s The Town I Loved So Well, Paddy Joe McGuigan’s The Men Behind the Wire and Brian Warfield’s Joe McDonnell among so many others.