32 Comments

Oh, Jill I don’t think I’ll be able to adequately say how much I love this. The Chieftans are the sound of my childhood, Irish Heartbeat was on constant repetition and is the soundtrack to all of my earliest memories. There’s not a note or lyric from that album that isn’t engraved in me somewhere. I did the 'click' immediately after you said, “It’s music made to put a spring in your heal”, because I’m half Irish, too, and my body doesn’t know how not to. You speak to the complexity that this music holds, that we hold, so beautifully. ♥️☘️

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We had a Chieftans album on heavy rotation on road trips and such when I was a kid. Similar feelings.

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Love a good dark backstory, Jill, especially involving childhood memories. The story told by the list of collaborators on that album is a volume in itself - Burgess Meredith? Marianne Faithfull! Elvis Costello?! 🤩

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Dec 5, 2023·edited Dec 5, 2023Liked by Jill

Strange, it makes me feel, to come upon this marvelous piece while listening to "The Bells of Dublin." Oh, that child...

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Honed, tuned. One of my absolute favourites, purring upon release from your engine room. More please.

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God, I love this piece. Van Morrison Is the hard and crusty, patron saint of all our family gatherings. He is a living embodiment of darkness, wrapped in nonsensical levity and joy. Thank you for reading this piece too. I know how tedious that exercise can be firsthand but it’s so worth it.

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Love it! My daughter's name is Wren and we have a "king of the birds" book that leaves out the part about falling to the furze. I had no idea it was a folk tale. Adding this to my Christmas playlist and will see what little Wren says about it. I'm told I'm Irish, Scottish, English, and Polish, and my wife has German and Italian ancestry, so I guess our children are the mutts Europe, sprinkled with American pride and shame.

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This is the magic of Substack. How else would I ever have come across this song and been able to listen to it with the great background you provided.

Thanks Jill!

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Very steerage! I was 15 when this came out, but remember my dad (both his parents were from Dublin) listening to it at Christmas. I actually made a point of listening carefully to all the Christmas songs I had grown up with, and some were surprisingly dark. But that's Christmas, very dark and empty if you look too closely. It's ours to make.

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That was lovely. I named a character in my third novel, Wren. I like the sound of it, and the way it looks on the page. Now I know the interesting backstory thanks to you.

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I so enjoyed this post, especially the main wren story. Beautiful (if sad). Thank you!

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deletedDec 6, 2023Liked by Jill
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