Sunday, May 1, 2016

Katy Fegan and the Curragh Of Kildare

My Inbox held a special treat - news of the new album by a special Voice in my life - Kevin Rowland. 
I've been listening to the Dexy's marvellous music for years apart from an interlude with cassette tapes of Play School and Peter Coombe!  for my daughter's pre-school education. Now for my grandson's musical edification I play 'C'mon Eileen' to show the kind of place I came from  - hanging out at the corner shop!

I'm revived by my Muse; K.R.'s vocal instrument gets me into gear with writing novel scenes about my young Roundhead/Red-coated lovers - working title, "Love in an English Republic". 

Nothing like some aural passion as high and pure as the Puritans were aiming for with Biblical Scripture. So glad Kev survived the drug abuse didn't lose his blessed biological asset!

"Take Me Home Again Kathleen" is Mum's favourite because of her name, but after finally hearing all the lyrics I hope she won't get too maudlin - Kevin's version doesn't stray from the sentimental/end of the night/Irish coffee/Celtic dreaming.

My mother-in-law Nancy's favourite song was 'Smoke gets in your Eyes" but she died before getting to hear Kevin sing it. If I ever work as a Diversional Therapist in Aged Care homes again this would be a perfect c.d. for Happy Hour in the nursing homes - before the Rolling Stones/Doors generation fill the arm-chairs!

AS A REBEL BRUMMIE SIDING WITH the under-dog IRISH REPUBLICANS It has been a shock to find my Scots/Irish kin were employed by the British Government.
Thanks to the Dexy's I now have a song to explore the lives of my 

The British Government's "Curragh of Kildare" is home to the Fegans; Mitochondrial DNA goes from mother to daughter eggs so my direct Great Grand Mothers are part of the his and herstory of this place.

Mum was named after her mother Kathleen. She was born to Dubliner Christina Ross, daughter of a Seaforth Highlander, sent from Edinburgh Castle to curb the Irish rebels.
Common for many Irish lasses she marries a volunteer WW1 soldier, a Londoner who was sent to suppress the Republicans instead of the Somme...

Great Great Grandmother of mine was Catherine or "Katy" Fegan, daughter of James Fegan or Fagan who was stationed at the Curragh of Kildare, where British Army regiments trained until the Irish Republic in 1922.

The unfortunate generational conflict between the Irish and the English expansionists is tied up further down the line of of Great Grandparents x 12!

From my virtual study, to the Tower Hamlets of the English Civil War. Anti- Catholic prejudice is rife and so is the desire of Parliament to put down the Irish rebels.
England is a Republic and my Roundhead forebears leave aboard The John with Oliver Cromwell to Dublin 1649.

Thomasine discovers her Protestant father Hugh Cannaday, a Mariner is an Irish Catholic!!! Everything she'd been taught to believe about the sub-human Papists tears at her heart and Soul. What a Fool not to have known. Did her Mother Thomasine know she had been tricked into marrying by the Papist Devil?

I reckon Kevin could compose and sing the soul out to this real-life drama of British SOULDIERS?

12th April 1870 Baptism at Saint Conleth's RC
Naas Rd. Newbridge, baby girl Catherine Fegan is baptised in the Roman Catholic tradition.
Great Great Grandmother Catherine Fegan  daughter to James Fagan
Margaret Healy.

The Curragh of Kildare had always been picked for the training of warriors and horses.

Naas has had a long and colourful history. In annals and records the name appears in three forms, namely, An Nas meaning ” the Place of Assembly” Nas Laighean meaning “Place of assembly of the Leinster Men, and Nas na Riogh meaning “Place of Assembly of the Kings”. The latter is the Irish form of the name now used.
Naas was founded, according to Bardic tradition, by Lewy of the Long Hand, and from the earliest times was an important centre. It was for almost seven centuries the seat of the Kings of Leinster. The last King to reside here was Cearbhall who died in AD904, St Patrick visited Naas in AD448 and baptised King Dunling’s children at the well at Oldtown, near the town.(Kildare Local History)
The Curragh racecourse

Apparently this traditional folk song called The Curragh of Kildare is sang every year just before the Irish Derby is run. Punters on the course do it, punters in Irish pubs around the world do it. Now the Dexy's are doing it! 

Catherine's father James was a Royal Irish Fusilier.  To join up meant earning a regular wage and food for his growing family - after growing up through the Famine years. Her mother may well have considered this Red Coat, a catch!
Grand Father x 3, James Fegan may have felt sympathetic to this song thinking of his wife MARGARET HEALY, when fighting for the Second Afghanistan campaign in 1878...

Royal Irish Fusiliers  
trad/arr: Christy Moore
"I gleaned this song from The P.W. Joyce collection in 1964.Donal Lunny and I arranged this song into its present shape.The original was written by Scotlands poet laureate Robbie Burns.It tells the story of a young Scottish woman whose lover is away soldiering for the Queen in the Curragh of Kildare.She decides to present herself for recruitment disguised as a young fellow.We never get to hear the outcome. Certainly a good case for a sequel. " Christy Moore


The winter it has passed

And the summer's come at last
The small birds are singing in the trees
And their little hearts are glad
Ah, but mine is very sad
Since my true love is far away from me.

And straight I will repair
To the Curragh of Kildare
For it's there I'll finds tidings of my dear
The rose upon the briar
By the water's running clear
Brings joy to the linnet and the bee
And their little hearts are blessed
But mine can know no rest
Since my true love is far away from me.

A livery I'll wear
And I'll comb back my hair
And in velvet so green I will appear
And straight I will repair
To the Curragh of Kildare
For it's there I'll find tidings of my dear.

Aye and cannot it remove
I pity the pain that you endure
For experience lets me know
That your hearts are filled with woe
It's a woe that no mortal can cure.
For Millennia the flat grasslands have attracted Celtic warriors, Soldiers, and Horses. St. Brigid aquired a gift of land for a monastery from the King of Leinster

The Other Women on the Curragh:
 "The soldiers called them ‘wrens’ because their homes looked like nests. There were ten nests in total, each one stitched into a dense strip of gorse just a few hundred metres from the entrance to the army camp. They measured no more than nine foot long and seven foot broad. The roof, if you could call it that, stood just 4½ foot high. There was no window, no chimney. But the walls were impressive, 20 foot thick in places, a closely compacted mesh of bog earth and gorse branches. "A Curragh Wren story

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Katy Fegan and the Curragh Of Kildare

My Inbox held a special treat - news of the new album by a special Voice in my life - Kevin Rowland.  I've been listening to the Dexy...