It is officially the month when we can all play and sing Irish songs, whether or not our ancestry includes Ireland. The very existence of St. Patrick's Day automatically allows us the liberty of suddenly becoming Irish musicians. I will be doing 2 Irish music programs this month just to prove the point (note: to the best of my knowledge, I have not a single drop of Irish blood in my veins).
What songs do you think of when you think of Irish music? "When Irish Eyes are Smiling"? "Danny Boy"? "Kathleen Mavoureen"? "Irish Washerwoman"? Or do you think of "The Gypsy Rover," "Red is the Rose," or "Dark Island"? What's difference? That first grouping is like "pop" music, not the traditional material (with the possible exception of "Irish Washerwoman") that one is likely to hear in the Irish pubs.
One of my favorite Irish songs is "Red is the Rose," the Irish version of "Loch Lomond." Of course, if you ask an Irishman, he will tell you that "Red is the Rose" came first and that the Scots stole the melody, but if you ask a Scotsman, he'll tell you just the opposite. The songs have different "flavors" and, personally, I prefer the song of unrequited love that the Irish sing so convincingly. Check my CD of Irish Immigrant music on CDBaby to hear a short clip of the song.
To see this song performed by one of the best Irish musicians, Liam Clancy, who left us this past year, check his performance on YouTube. Liam was the last of the performing Clancy Brothers (best known for their career linked with Tommy Makem). Liam, at age 74, died on 4 December 2009. He was performing up until just a few short months before his death. A version of the lyrics can be found on the web, for those interested in the words.