In the last year or two there has been significant interest shown in folk music. New clubs have appeared up and down the country, attracting large audiences from every walk of life. The ability of Folk Music to hold an intelligent audience lies in its inherent simplicity and the talented performance of the entertainers concerned.
In February 1968, the GAELS opened an upstairs room at the Denbigh Arms, Monks Kirby in Warwickshire, and another such Folk Club was born. The group, originally started by two of its members in 1966 as the Phoenix Folk Group, has four members, who between them play a wide range of instruments. The club soon earned a reputation for good music, talent and entertainment and the membership now stands somewhere over the 2,000 mark.
Many national and international guest artistes and floor singers have appeared at the club and much has been written about the group themselves in Folk circles. John Foreman wrote "an outstanding group, playing a variety of instruments between them. I agree with many others in rating them very highly", Thus the Denbigh Arms Folk Club, Monks Kirby — almost in the middle of nowhere — earned its name for a "good Saturday evening's entertainment!
In addition to the clubs in the Midlands the group has made several visits to Ireland, and is perhaps as well known in parts of Ireland as over here.
Three members of the group hail from the "Shamrock Isle". Brian Patten is a native of Donegal on the borders of Northern Ireland — Sean Cannon was born and raised in Galway City and Bill Hartnett, their acknowledged leader, comes from County Limerick. The fourth member Ian (Skid) Rennie is an exiled Scot from the Burns county of Ayrshire and completes the Celtic circle.
It is hardly surprising that the GAELS possess by virtue of their inheritance, a richness of fine traditional material. Their style is not, however, confined to the traditional, for with their natural talent and instrumental versatility, they are able to produce a varied sound and style to suit all folk enthusiasts.
Finally, by popular demand, this record has been produced. It is dedicated to all club members and friends for their encouragement, enthusiasm and support, and is the GAELS own contribution to the furtherance of good Folk Music to Folk lovers everywhere.
WHISKY IN THE JAR
A deceptive title since the song does not concern whisky but rather a Highwayman reputed to be Freney, who operated in the Kilkenny area. His capture was brought about by a treacherous female by the name of Jenny — as the story relates.
POC AR BUILE
The exploits of a certain goat who broke loose and cared little for either clergy or law. Related in Gaelic from a publication by Gael Linn.
LARK IN THE MORNING
Traditional Instrumental Jig
During the Glasgow Fair the city dwellers escape from the grimy atmosphere to the holiday resorts along the Clyde Estuary. This song describes the holiday high jinks of a particular group.
The origins of this ancient song are very obscure, but it is definitely one of the oldest in Britain. Associated with the Island of Barra, in the Hebrides, it evokes images of Banqueting Halls and feasts for heroes; the clatter of goblets and the swirl of war pipes.
"Madame Bonaparte" — a set dance, followed by two splendid reels "Mountain Road" and "Reveys Reel".
THE GALWAY SHAWL (arr. The Gaels)
At Oranmore, in County Galway, the wild Atlantic penetrates deepest into Galway Bay. On a pleasant evening in the month of May with the famous sunset in the West, and a light sea breeze blowing over the land, we have the setting for this old traditional love song.
BARNYARDS OF DELGATY
A fine example of one of the many bothy ballads written by farmers and hirelings of the day.
BLOW YE WINDS
This song was apparently composed by Tommy Makem during one of his many trips to America.
LOCK THE DOOR LARISTON
A stirring ballad taken from an anthology of historical poems from the border counties. This concerns a warrior leader, 'Elliot of Lariston' who won fame by putting the English forces to route
SLIABH NO MBAN (Mountain of the Women) (arr. The Gaels)
In the abortive rebellion of 1798, one of many minor battles took place on Sliabh Na MBan in Tipperary. Here a small band of local people was defeated. This fine air is a lament for those who died.
THE MAID OF THE SWEET BROWN KNOWE
Such an attitude may have been prevalent when this ditty was written, but I don't believe any man is that indifferent — not even an Irishman!
RED HAIRED MARY (Sean McCarthy)
A light-hearted view of a popular 'Fair' which takes place annually in Dingle Town, Ireland.
BANKS OF MARBLE (Orig. words & music Les Rice Arr. The Gaels)
This song relates the unhappy times suffered by the working men during the American depression. Work was scarce, times were hard but the banks were still filled with silver.
FAREWELL TO IRELAND
Instrumental reel featuring the bodhràn (a traditional one-sided Irish drum). A favourite with many, but very seldom recorded.