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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Waulking Songs March 7, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

Last Sunday night I got into the car after seeing The Gloaming in the NCH, such was the sheer brilliance of their performance there was a debate between myself and my son if we should turn on the radio. You know when you have just been at a magical gig and you want to keep the sounds as fresh in your mind as possible… often you get into a taxi and theres some awful tripe on the radio spoiling your mood. Either way I won and we switched on RTE Radio 1. What was only only a documentary by David Attenborough about making a programme on Folk music in the 50’s for the BBC (alas it is no longer online). It was fascinating stuff as he had worked with Alan Lomax on the show. We drove home to the sounds of Ewan McColl, Margaret Barry and Waulking songs from the Outer Hebridies.
Waulking is the working of the Tweed mainly carried out by the islands women. I was captured by the rhythm of the tweed being waulked as the rhythm for the songs. They are almost universal in that you could imagine some of the songs being Native Americans or indeed any other ethnic songs. I’ve also included a number of Waulking songs being sung in an instrumental environment. The eagle eyed among you may spot Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh of The Gloaming in the second last clip here.


1. workers republic - March 7, 2015

I was looking forward to listening to it,but I was travelling from a march to and demo at Mountjoy,for the five imprisoned anti water charges protesters at the time. Thanks for putting the work songs up CLR.
Yes, there’s something ‘magical’ about work songs. I remember watching,as a child Mob Dick, the whalers singing as
they turned the winch to haul up the anchor. More recently, and darker, the start of the film of La Miserable.
Working on construction
sites, when pulling-in big cables I often joined in with my workmates singing or humming rhythmic songs.
I’ll take this opportunity to wish
fraternal best wishes to all female
comrades on International Women Day.
It’s a workers celebration, it’s not about the ‘glass ceiling’, there’s no reason to celebrate that Christine Le Garde is head of the IMF, it’s about the rights of woman workers, most low income jobs are done by women and single parents
have had their income cut by 40% if
their child is 7 and even more if they are

on disability. Many have their hands full
at home with rearing their families and don’t want to become wage slaves, workfare instead of welfare.


2. workers republic - March 7, 2015

Women were involved in the IWW, Lucy Parsons and Cork born Mother Jones, Emma Goldman and many others. The Mother jones Festival in Cork in July has great speakers and events. Bill a veteran of the coalminers strike and human rights solicitor Gareth Pierce spoke at it. Gareth Pierce famously defended the Guildford Four, She was so busy defending victims of Islamophobia at the time, she didn’t know ’till the last minute if she could get to Cork for the feasible but she made it, just in time. She is very sincere and modest, a truly heroic person.


3. Phil - March 10, 2015

Fascinating stuff. The reinterpretations are a bit disappointing (the first two at least) – they’re much more listenable, but at the same time less engaging. Difficult line to walk (no pun intended). The source recordings grab you much more immediately, but you can’t imagine listening to an album of them, or not more than once. But then, it never was music for listening to.


irishelectionliterature - March 10, 2015

Yes, really fascinating and as you said not really meant for an audience more for taking part in.


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