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06 Garryowen

The Young Wolfe Tones on November 28, 2012 05:32

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This is rendition of Garryowen, which appears on my CD "With a banjo On My knee" “Garryowen” as a military tune goes back at least to “The Irish Brigade’’ in France in 1745, the tune is probably very much older. It would have first come to America
with the many Irish Brigade veterans who came from France and fought with Washington in the Revolutionary War.
It would have come also informally into the U.S Army between 1861 and 1866 during the Civil War. Garryowen was adopted and first documented in popular print by the 7th U.S. Cavalry Band. And about the same time the tune became the regimental air. George Armstrong Custer did not bring the song to the regiment, that distinction goes to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel (Captain) Myles W. KeoghThe Irish Army, several Irish regiments in the British Army and the Papal Guard also used the tune as a regimental march.
Garryowen is a suburb of Limerick. Many song words were written to the tune about the boisterous and anti-social behavior of the sons of that quintessentially high-spirited, and very Irish, part of Limerick. The bravado of these folks was the subject of many essays and is covered by Crofton Croker in his book, “The Popular Songs of Ireland”. The music has always been associated with the Irish in the fighting ranks whether it was for Ireland, France, England or America. Garryowen is the Regimental March of the “Fighting 69th” Regiment of New York (which Regiment was founded for the purpose of training Irish exiles in the military arts, in preparation for their return to assist in the liberation of their homeland). President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt (who had a Virginia-born, Irish mother, and who had previously commanded the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry in battle in the Spanish- American War – he was later awarded the Medal of Honour for his actions on San Juan Hill) said that Garryowen was the finest military march he had ever heard. These words were written between 1770 and 1780.
In Garryowen we’ll drink brown ale
An score de reckonin’on de nail;
No man for debt shall go to gaol
For Garryowen for glory whoo!
John McCreery who was a very accomplished Irish composer and musician wrote this
arrangement of “Garryowen” in Petersburg Virginia around 1806 where he lived and carried on his business. (Derek in one of his musical book expeditions found McCreery’s Collection of music). John McCreery was a close friend of John Burk who wrote many plays and books. Including the first “History Of Virginia”. Both Irishmen collaborated in many stage and musical performances.
For the rendition of Garryowen, which appears on this CD, I am indebted here to Ciaran Tackney from Co. Cavan, Ireland for his assimilation of tricky notation into the music. Ciaran plays the Harpsichord for this one and although I have heard this tune recorded many times, I feel that between Ciaran and Padraig McGovern, (incidentally, whose Uilleann piping on this track is truly a piece of the finest piping I have ever heard); the tune has taken on a new dimension.

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