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If I Were A Blackbird (1938-1941)

15.00

My grandmother Delia’s name is synonymous with her songs, among them If I were a Blackbird, The Spinning Wheel and Three Lovely Lassies.

Throughout her life Delia balanced writing, recording and performing her songs with a hectic life as the wife of one of Ireland’s most celebrated ambassadors, TJ Kiernan.  From the 1920s to the 1960s they lived in London, Rome, Canberra, Bonn, Ottawa and Washington as Tom Kiernan was posted to various Irish embassies around the world.

Delia made records in London, Dublin and New York, performed regularly on radio and appeared in the 1938 film West of Kerry.  She was an extrovert who liked, and was liked by, many people.

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Description

If I Were A Blackbird (track 1)

  1.  If I Were a Blackbird
  2.  Down by the Glenside
  3.  Paddy Lynch’s Boat
  4.  The Spinning Wheel
  5.  Three Lovely Lassies
  6.  As I Walked Out
  7.  The Boston Burglar
  8.  Coortin’ in the Kitchen
  9. The Girl from Donegal
  10. The Lowlands of Holland
  11. The Moonshiner
  12. Reilly the Fisherman
  13. The Roving Journeyman
  14. Send Back My Barney
  15. The Shepherd’s Lamb
  16. The Bantry Girl’s Lament
  17. The Croppy Boy
  18. I Was Told By My Aunt
  19. I Wish that I Never Was Wed
  20. Jackets Green
  21. Reynard the Fox

The Living Tradition Review

The legend of Delia Murphy sees her revered as one of Ireland’s first major female folk singers. She was also a singer songwriter whose approach and style crossed the bridge between Vaudeville and traditional song. Throughout her life Delia balanced writing, recording and performing with a hectic life as the wife of one of Ireland’s most celebrated ambassadors, TJ Kiernan. From the 1920s to the 1960s they lived in London, Rome, Canberra, Bonn, Ottawa and Washington as TJ Kiernan was posted to various Irish embassies around the world.

Delia made records in London, Dublin and New York, performed regularly on radio and appeared in the 1938 film West Of Kerry. Her recordings, which were originally cut on 78s, achieved new popularity in the 70s on an EMI vinyl LP and other vintage recordings occasionally emerge on eBay and yard sales. Now this CD compiled by her grandson, Ronan Browne, aims to set the record straight and introduce Delia’s songs to the digital age. 

Featuring 21 tracks recorded between 1938 and 1941 many of which she wrote herself, the CD includes some of her biggest hits – The Spinning WheelThe Moonshiner and Three Lovely Lassies from Bannion. The original recordings have been remastered and their bravura and raw innocence still radiate. These are songs from an earlier Ireland, yet the knowing and feminine guile expressed is both universal and timeless. Delia Murphy was of her age yet beyond it and her importance in Irish singing is reinstated with this excellent compilation.

John O’Regan

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