Far From Home is my first CD, and it is a long time coming. I hope that it will be a good introduction for those of you who don't know my music. Just click on one of the links in the list below for more information, including lyrics, translations, credits and previews. Visit my biography section for more information about me and the other musicians that appear on this album. So many people are due my sincere thanks that I could never include them all, but I have made this attempt.
I first learned this song at a choral festival in the late 1980s. I started singing it again a few years ago in honor of my wife, whose father comes from Stellarton. All Canadians seem to have learned it at summer camp! It has become one of my most requested songs at sessions around Boston. No one requests it more often than Sean Connor, with whom I have had the privilege of playing music at least twice a week for the last two years. I am so happy to have his fiddling on this track and throughout this album. Melissa Foley's harmony vocals round out this arrangement, which is a bit different from the version that we play live.
These three reels were among the first I learned from Dan Cummins and Bev Buchannan. They are a husband and wife music team that leads a suprisingly vibrant Irish music scene in Lexington, Kentucky. I was fortunate enough to meet up with them in the mid 1990s when I was going to school there. The last two tunes are often played together at sessionsxI was delighted one night at the Banshee when Sean's father (box player John Connor) launched into them, and that led me to dust off what has become one of our favorite sets. This live recording was made at Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Fuair mé an t-amhrán breá seo ó Mhicheál Mac Con Iomaire, a mhúin rang amhránaíochta ar an gCeathú Rua, i 1997, agus mise ag foghlaim Gaeilge ansin. Ar ndóigh, chuala mé go minic é ó Thómás Mac Eoin é féin, ins an gCistín! Céad mile beannacht air – d’iarradh sé amhrán orm i gcónaí nuair a bhíodh sé do m’fheiceáil sa mbear. Rinne mé vearsa nua anseo, mar cheap mé ariamh go raibh sé ró-ghéar ar fad. Tá súil agam go mbainfidh an cumadóir é féin sult as, agus nach gceapfaidh sé gur an-dána mise dhá dhéanadh.
I learned this fine song from Micheál Mac Con Iomaire, who taught a singing class in Carraroe in 1997, when I was there studying Irish. Of course, I also heard it many times from Tomás Mac Eoin himself, at An Chistín. God bless him, he would always ask me to sing when he saw me in the bar. I have written a new verse (the third) for this recording, which I hope the author will approve of and enjoy.
I have loved "The Salley Gardens" since I first heard the song in the mid 1980s, on one of the early Clannad albums. I have been singing it for over twenty years, but I have always wanted to hear the rest of the story! Here is my attempt to tell it. I have added traditional verses from "You Rambling Boys of Pleasure" (the song W.B. Yeats half-remembered when he wrote the poem) and written two new verses to tie it all together.
I don't remember where I first heard this wonderful air—it was probably either from Silly Wizard's version (sung in English) on So Many Partings or from Mairéad Ní Mhaoinaigh's singing on Altan's Island Angel. Whichever it was, it was one of the first songs I ever learned to sing in Irish. I sang it at my first Fleadh in the early '90s and started playing it as an air around the same time. The version that I play on the flute has divirged a bit over the years from the song.
'Céad Slan do Leitir Mealláin, Cúigéal is Corra Bhuí' — focail scríofa ag Tom a' tSeoighe faoina bhaile féin i gCeantar na nOileán, agus nach mbíonn siad cloiste go minic ag muintir Chonamara? Cloistear i gceantar Bhostúin anois freisin, mar is breá liom 'Ceol Tire Chonamara' ón am a chuala mé ar dtús é, agus mé i mo dhálta Gaeilge ar an gCeathrú Rua. Bím dhá bhliain anois ag seinm dhá sheisiún sa tseachtain le Seán Connor (Seán Nuala Mháirtín) agus is minic go mbíonn muintir Chonamara nó Gaeilgeoirí eile sa teach. Nach mór an t-athas a bhíonns orm nuair a éirím mo chloigeann le féachaint ar na daoine ag jiveáil!
"A hundred times farewell to Leitir Mealláin, Cúigéal and Corra Bhuí"—the words of Tom a' tSeoighe, about his home on Lettermullan island, and aren't they often heard around Conamara? They are often heard in Boston now as well! I have loved "Conamara Country Music" since I first heard it when I was studying in Carraroe. For the last two years I have played two sessions a week with Sean Connor, and there are often Conamara people or other Irish speakers in the place. How great is my joy when I raise my head to look out at the people jiving!
I learned these reels from Dan Cummins and Bev Buchanan, who learned them from Billy McComiskey. The first tune was composed by Paddy O'Brien, the Co. Tipperary B/C box pioneer, who named it in honor of his father. Sean Connor's savage fiddling leads off the set, and I join him on the flute for the second tune.
Fuair mé an t-amhrán breá seo ó amhránaíocht Mheaití Jó Shéamuis, óna album iontach, Bóithríní an Locháin. Is breá liom dhá chasadh ar an sean-nós, ach tá veirsean nua válsach déanta agam anseo leis an ngiotar. Rinne mé cupla botún leis an nGaeilge, mar taifeadadh beo atá ann, agus b'fhéidir go raibh mé beagán neirbhiseach — ach is maith liom an taifeadadh ar aon chaoi. Ach má táthar ag iarraidh an t-amhrán seo a fhoghlaim, faigh album Mheaití Jó — dheamhan duine níos fearr!
I learned this fine song from the singing of Meaití Jó Shéamuis Ó Fátharta on his wondeful album, Bóithríní an Locháin. I have arranged it waltz-style with the guitar.
Amhrán Shandyston Mheiriceá[ credits | lyrics | translation ]
Seo dhaoibh amhrán a rinne mé féin, faoi mo bhaile dúchais in iarthuaisceart New Jersey. Fuair mé an dara céim leis, sa gcomórtas Amhrán Nua Cheaptha ag Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann i 2007.
I wrote this song about my home town in northwest New Jersey. I won second place with it in the Newly Composed Song category at Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann in 2007.
This jig set is a favorite at our sessions. I first heard Tatter Jack Walsh on Liam O'Flynn's album Out To An Other Side, where it is set to the words of Swift's "The Dean's Pamphlet" with Liam's magnificent piping on the tune afterwards. I learned the Shaskeen years ago from Dan Cummins and later discovered that Michael Rafferty played it with Brendan Tonra's. Sean and I are backed on this set by Emerald Rae on the baritone ukelele. When she is not rocking out with us on the "ladies guitar" (as it was once called by a Boston bar-goer) she is an absolutely savage fiddle player. Those who were to check out her band, Annalivia, would surely not be disappointed.
I wrote this song for everyone who rides the Morris and Essex line in North Jersey. The last four stops on the line are pulled by deisel engines on a single track, since the electrified line ends at Dover. This means that train service is slow and infrequent in Netcong, where my friend Kurt Conquy was living in the middle of the last decade. Since that last train back to civilization left at seven, we had to decide early whether to make the train or whether someone would remain sober enough to drive to Dover. I have attempted to convey a bit about the character (and characters) of some of the towns along the way: Hoboken (the city that never sleeps but passes out regularly); Newark, where a magnificent cathedral stands amidst the ruins of a great city; Madison, the university town; the leafy Irish-American enclave of Maplewood; and Morristown, where George Washington and his continentals spent two grueling winters.
I found this version of this ubiquitous folk song in the great Alan Lomax collection, The Folk Songs of North America. It was collected in Nova Scotia. I have paired it here with Castle Kelly, a reel I learned from Carl Hylin.
The Swallow's Nest is a Paddy O'Brien tune that I first learned from a manuscript copy that belonged to the uncle of a whistle student of mine, Ryan Dugan. I learned Maguire's from Dan Cummins and Bev Buchanan.
This song tells the story of the demise of traditional cider making in my home county. I wrote it not long after the death of the Ayers boys, who were the last in a tradition that stretched back to colonial days. Go ndéanaí Dia trócaire ar a n-anamacha.
Nuair a léigh mé an dán seo álainn ar an mblog Hilary NY, tháinig an fonn go díreach isteach im mheabhair. Fonn traidisiúnta atá ann, a chuala mé ó amhránaíocht Áine Uí Cheallaigh, lena focail Bhéarla, "Peace in Éireann." Fuair Ciara Durkin bás in Afghanistan, agus í ina saighdiúir in Arm na Stáit Aontaithe. Is féidir síntiús a thabhairt ar mhaithe le The Ciara Durkin Cancer Resource Center, 2nd Floor, Quincy Medical Centre, Whitwell St., Quincy. MA 02169, nó is féidir cuimhní clainne agus cairde a léamh ag www.ciaraweerabrat.com, suíomh a d’eascair as domhainghrá a muintire do Ciara na Gruaige Rua.
When I first read this beautiful poem on the blog Hilary NY, the air for it came to me immeadiately. It is a traditional air that I first heard from the singing of Áine Uí Cheallaigh, with the English words "Peace in Eireann." Ciara Durkin died in Afghanistan while serving in the US Army. Donations, in Ciara’s memory, may be made to The Ciara Durkin Cancer Resource Center, 2nd Floor, Quincy Medical Centre, Whitwell St., Quincy. MA 02169, or she can be remembered by visiting the website her family created from their deep love for Ciara, www.ciaraweerabrat.com.
Farewell to Nova
Scotia (Traditional, arr. Liam Hart)
Reels: The Shaskeen/Lady Anne Montgomery/Maude
An Cailín Álainn (Tomás Mac Eoin, except
v.3, Liam Hart)
The Lily of Tyrone
Air: Bríd Óg Ní Mhaille (Traditional, arr.
Deoraí Thír an Fhia/The Silver Spear (Song:
Tom a' tSeoige; Reel: Traditional)
Reels: Dinny O'Brien's/Farewell to Connaught
Fill a Rúin (Traditional, arr. Liam
Amhrán Shandyston Mheiriceá (Music:
Traditional; Lyrics: Liam Hart)
Jigs: An tAthair Jack Walsh/The Shaskeen/Brendan
You Can't Leave Netcong after Seven (Liam
As I Roved Out/Castle Kelly (Traditional,
arr. Liam Hart)
Reels: The Swallow's Nest/Maguire's (Paddy
Their Sons Know Only Beer (Liam
Ciara na Gruaige Rua (Music: Traditional,
arr. Liam Hart; Lyrics: Áine Durkin)
The sun was setting in the west.
An Cailín Álainn (Thomás Mac Eoin)
Tá cailín álainn a dtug mé grá dhi,
A chailín álainn a dtug mé grá dhuit,
Nuair a éirím amach go huaigneach,
Cá mbíonn tú ar maidin, a chailín álainn?
Dá dtiocfá liomsa, a chailín álainn,
I fell in love with a beautiful girl,
O beautiful girl that I love,
When I rise and go out alone,
Where do you spend the morning, beautiful girl?
If you would come with me, beautiful girl,
You rambling boys of pleasure, give ear to these lines I write.
It was in her father’s garden my love and I did meet.
It’s well I knew her father; long had I worked his land.
The next time that I met my love, I thought her heart was mine.
How I wish I was home in Dungannon; my true love along with me,
In a field by the river, my love and I did stand.
And here I sit in Boston town, upon your Common’s grass,
Deoraí Thír an Fhia (Tom a' tSeoige)
Nuair a d'fhága mise an baile nár bhrónach é mo chroí,
Tá na fiche bliain sin caite is mé smaoineadh ar an am,
Céad slán go Leitir Mealláin, Cúigéal 's Corra Bhuí,
Bhí mé ag smaoineadh ar na bádóirí ag teacht go Glais na nUan,
Ach sna flaithis go raibh na n-anam sin an taobh eile de na
Bhí mé ag smaoineamh ar an teachín siúd a chaith mé seal den
Mo dhiomú ar na pubanna, ar na clubanna 's ar na mná,
The Tír an Fhia Exile (translated by Liam Hart)
Wasn't my heart sad when I left home.
Twenty years are passed now, and I am thinking of the time
A hundred times farewell to Leitir Mealláin, Cúigéal and Corra
I was thinking on the boatmen coming to Glais na
But their souls are in heaven now, on the other side of the
I was thinking of that little house where I spent my
My curse on pubs and clubs and women.
* A type of seaweed used as fertilizer.
Ó bhí mé tigh an mhinistéara aréir.
Agus fill, fill a rún, ó,
Ó chonaic mé 'níon an mhinistéara aréir,
B'fhearr liomsa a bheith amuigh ar an trá,
Agus fill, fill a rún, ó,
Tá mallacht na sagairt is na mbráithre
Mo mhallacht go deo ar na mná—
Agus fill, fill a rún, ó,
Come Back, my Dear (translated by Liam Hart)
I was at the minister's house last night,
And come back, dear, come back.
I saw the minister's daughter last night,
I would rather be out on the strand
And come back, dear, come back.
I have walked all around.
You have a bag to go away with,
My curse forever on women,
And come back, dear, come back.
Amhrán Shandyston Mheiriceá (Liam Hart)
Táim ag smaoineadh ar mo bhaile féin, mo chreach nach bhfuil mé
Song of Sandyston, America (translated by the author)
I am thinking about my own home, what a pity I am not there,
I used to leave the house early in the morning, when I was a
Wasn't it nice to be on the lake, in the boat with my
Wasn't that a fine little house, full of music
Maybe the winter was cold, and maybe life was hard.
But now big new houses are going up on every side
Good people of the mountains, don't you know my torment,
You Can't Leave Netcong after Seven (Liam Hart)
The train she leaves Hoboken town where the liquor stores
High above the rails in Newark town, there stands a great
Madison's the place of fame for to get an education,
At the St. James Gate in Maplewood there is a mighty
You can ride the rails to Morristown, where they fought the
As I roved ot one bright may morning,
Daughter, O Daughter, I'd have you to marry,
A sailor boy likes all for to wander,
O Mother, I cannot wed with a farmer,
Now polly's the wife of some jolly sailor,
She lays her head on her true lover's shoulder,
As I roved out one bright may morning,
Their Sons Know Only Beer (Liam Hart)
Long before I'd tasted beer, winter nights when I was young,
My father said, "Come in and bring that jug beside the door.
Well I remember son, when the winter winds did blow,
Back a hundred years ago, barrells aged in every barn.
Ciara na Gruaige Rua (Ciara Durkin)
Is brónach é an focal slán
Séasúr le séasúr fágann slán
A corp ar leac i dtír gan suan
Níl radharc sna súile gorma geala
Níl preab níos mó ón gcroí mór fial
Is brónach é an focal slán
Red-Haired Ciara (translated by the author)
Such a sad word is goodbye
Seasons to seasons bid farewell
Her body lying in a troubled place
Her eyes so kind, so clear, so blue
The beat of her heart we no longer hear
Such a sad word is goodbye
Liam was born in Newton, New Jersey, and grew up in the shadow of the ridge that the Indians called Kittatinny. He was blessed with a musical family, with folk songs from his mother, country and bluegrass from his father, and jazz standards from his grandmother. He discovered Irish music at the age of twelve, when he came upon a Clancy Brothers record in his mother's collection. It was there that he first heard the Irish language, and he began studying it in the late 1980s. Around that time, as a young teenager, he taught himself the bodhrán and a few tunes on the whistle and he started to visit sessions in Manhattan, where he was introduced to Irish dance music by some of the best traditional musicians in the New York area. He left home in 1993 to attend the University of Kentucky, where he studied classical singing and spent many hours at the listening library, immersing himself in field recordings from Ireland, Britain and Appalachia. In 1996 and 1997, he competed at the CCE Midwest Fleadh, winning thirteen medals and qualifying for Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann. He traveled to Ireland in 1997 and competed at the Fleadh after spending a summer term at UCG's Carraroe campus studying Irish in an immersion enviornment. While still in Kentucky, he met Dan Cummins and Bev Buchanan, and soon began playing with them regularly in a band called Liam's Fancy, named for the source of much of their music, the great Billy McComiskey. Returning to New Jersey in 1999, Liam spent the next eight years teaching music and the Irish language at the Irish American Association of Northwest New Jersey, while teaching himself to play the flute. At the same time, he pursued his lifelong interest in church music at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ. In 2007, Liam once again travelled to Ireland to compete at Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann, taking second place in the in the Newly Composed Song in Irish competition with his "Amhrán Sandyston Mheiriceá." That fall, Liam and his wife Kitty moved to New England, where his daughter Flora Jean was born the following year. He quickly established himself as a mainstay of the Boston session scene, and for the past two years he has hosted at least two weekly sessions, usually with Co. Mayo Fiddler Sean Connor. His first album, Far From Home, was released in 2010.
Seán is a native of Kilmaine, Co. Mayo. Born into a family with a rich tradition in music, he began playing fiddle at age eight. Seán won his first Fleadh at age fourteen in Stonehill, MA. Heavily influenced by both Sliabh Luachra and Sligo fiddle styles, he became very well known on European and American seisiún circuits. Expanding his instrument repertoire to include mandolin and banjo, Seán toured with a succession of bands in the U.S. and England, recording extensively. He has appeared on radio in England performing with famed country/bluegrass rockers "The Woodsmen." Seán also guested on McDermott's album, Goodbye to the Madhouse with Nick Burbridge.
Martin grew up in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary, moving to the States in the early 1990's. He began playing with the Boston branch of Comhaltas and in many sessions with the Gannon Family and other notable musicians in the Boston area. He was an All-Ireland finalist in Bodhrán in 2002, winning the CCE Northeast Fleadh in New York. Martin performed in a series of concerts with famed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan of The Irish Tenors in 2004. His current project is a band called Cúnla Dear, with Amy Basse, David Bowman and Mike Kelleher.
Melissa is a Massachusetts native who exhibited an early interest in music, playing piano and guitar as well as singing in her church and school choirs. About 10 years ago, she started attending area sessions and singing along at every opportunity. What followed was a passion for learning the songs and stories of this rich tradition. Her current project is baby daughter Wren, who Melissa and her husband look forward to bringing to her first session soon.
Emerald is a U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion and a graduate of Berklee College of Music.
Phil plays bass in the band Ramming Speed, which Liam believes may play some sort of metal or another. It is not Irish music, but it is probably savage altogether if you are into that sort of thing.
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone with whom I have had the privlege of making music over the last three decades. I wish I could mention you all by name (even those of you whose names I never knew), but I owe special thanks to the following men and women.
My mother, Sherri Hopkins Hart, who sang to me and with me from my earliest childhood until the day she died. We sang together in the car and in the kitchen, in smokey barrooms and in the church choir.
My father, William Hart, who to use his own words "couldn't carry a tune in a bucket if it had four handles." Instead of singing, he played me records: Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Tex Ritter, Johnny Horton, Bill Monroe, Roy Acuff, and many more.
My grandmother, Phyllis Hopkins, who taught me to read music. I can still remember what it felt like to have friends and family gathered around Grandma at her old Lowery organ, my dad and my uncle Clinton on trumpets, some friend or another beating brushes on the table, and everyone else singing or dancing or both. I have spent my musical life trying to recapture that feeling.
Joseph Mello, my first voice teacher, who introduced me to art song: German Lied, Neopolitan songs, French song, and most of all English song, Benjamin Brittain and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Joe is a fine singer, a great teacher and a superb musician–he was the best mentor a young singer could ask for.
Sally Buckmaster and Karl Sidnam, friends from my high school days who must have liked me an awful lot to agree to participate in my decidely un-cool musical enterprises.
Greg Low, Tara Anderson, Carl Hylin and Cammi Payne, who made up my college band, Fianna Rua. I learned a lot from all of them and had a great time doing it.
Máirín Nic Con Iomaire, fíorGhael de mhuintir Chonamara, a mhúin mo rang Gaeilge ar an gCeathrú Rua, i 1997.
Mícheál Mac Con Iomaire, uncail Mháirín, a mhúin rang amhránaíochta an tsamhraidh sin.
Meaití Jo Shéamuis Ó Fátharta, Máirtín Tom Sheáinín Mac Donnacha agus lucht RnaG, a chuir blas Chonamara ar mo chuid caint.
Dan Cummins and Beverly Buchanan, who opened the door to jigs and reels. Dan and Bev have a great store of music from the great Billy McComiskey, which they were gracious enough to share with me. When I met them in the mid 1990s, I had been singing Irish music for almost a decade, but I had hardly scratched the surface of the dance music. It was the hours that they spent playing with me, (and access to Bev's excellent transcriptions) that laid the foundation for all the flute and whistle playing heard on this album.
Marge Greenan, Iris Nevins, Rich Sutton and everyone from the Irish American Association of Northwest New Jersey, where I taught music and Irish from 2000-2007.
Larry Reynolds and the whole crowd from the Green Briar, who welcomed me to Boston and helped connect me with the local community.
Sean Connor, who plays music with me at least twice a week, and without whose fiddle this album would be much, much poorer.
Emerald Rae, Phil Harwood, Melissa Foley and Martin Butler for graciously agreeing to play on the album.
Steven Friedman, my recording engineer.
Zabet, for last minute graphic design heroics.
Cisco, Sonny, and Leadbelly, for lending their hearts and hands.
And most of all my wife, Kitty Findlay, and all her family, for all their love and support.