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Wilfried F Voss

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Irish Songbook: Inishbofin Ceili Band - The Dear Little Isle
By Wilfried F Voss   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, December 30, 2011
Posted: Friday, December 30, 2011

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Usually known in Ireland as The Dear little Isle or There's A Dear Little Isle, it is commonly referred to as My Own Dear Native Land. Presumably written abroad by an exile in the early to mid 20th Century, is now accepted as traditional.

 Wilfried F. Voss is the author of The Bleeding Hills. For more information see his website at http://wilfriedvoss.com.

The Dear Little Isle - Inishbofin Ceili BandAs I had written in a previous post (see: Ireland: Inishbofin – The Island Of The White Cow) we have a family connection to the island of Inishbofin off the coast of County Galway in Ireland, and two of my wife's cousins, Geraldine and Paddy Joe King, are gifted musicians. They are also members of the Inishbofin Ceili Band, and, of course, we do have some of their recorded works at our home here in New England. I am referring specifically to their CD The Dear Little Isle, and my favorite is their rendition of the title song.

Note: The CD is only available through the Inishbofin Community Centre (see: http://www.inishbofin.com/music.html). So, if you need a copy, you need to take the ferry at the pier in Cleggan, Ireland. First of all, it is well worth the visit, and secondly, Desmond O'Halloran's rendition of The Dear Little Isle is absolutely striking. I have heard versions from other, very talented Irish singers, but none of them reaches the great beauty of Halloran's voice paired with an extraordinary song.

Desmond O'Halloran, who arranged and sang the song in the Inishbofin Ceili Band's version, wrote: "I first heard this song from Johnny Joe Pheáitsín in 1983 on Inishbofin, the words of which he wrote for me." Unfortunately, they didn't include the lyrics in the CD's booklet. Another resource I found even stated: "I have found zero transcriptions of this song anywhere. If you want to actually learn to sing this song, simply learn it from a fellow singer or from a recording."

In fact, the confusion originates in the different titles used for the same song. After all, the song and its lyrics were passed from generation to generation merely through mouth-to-mouth, and there are numerous little variations. Usually known in Ireland as The Dear little Isle or There's A Dear Little Isle, it is commonly referred to as My Own Dear Native Land. Presumably written abroad by an exile in the early to mid 20th Century, it is now accepted as traditional.

The lyrics as shown in the following represent one version, but, again, renditions may very slightly.

My Own Dear Native Land

(Traditional)

There's a dear little isle in the Western Ocean
An island of purity, holy and grand
Whose name fills its daughters and sons with emotion
When heard on the shores of a far distant land.
It's Ireland, God bless her, the birthplace of heroes
The home of the patriot, warrior and sage
Of bards and of chieftains whose names live in story
May they live forever on history's page.

For I love every blade of grass, green on your mountain,
Every leaf on your tree, every rock upon your strand
I love your green hills and your murmuring fountains
I love you, acushla, my own dear native land.

You once were a proud and a glorious nation
Your name and your fame were known all o'er the world
'Til misfortune came o'er you and sad desolation
And the emerald banner in slavery lay unfurled.
They tortured your children, despoiled your green bowers
They tried to exterminate you long, long ago
But the Irish are somehow like wild, creeping flowers
The faster you pluck them, the quicker they grow.

For I love every blade of grass, green on your mountain,
Every leaf on your tree, every rock upon your strand
I love your green hills and your murmuring fountains
I love you, acushla, my own dear native land.

Note: "acushla," a short form of the anglicized "acushla machree," is from "a chuisle mo chroí," "the pulse of my heart."

References:

 

Web Site: Irish Songbook: Inishbofin Ceili Band - The Dear Little Isle



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