Reading My Way Around the World

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Songbirds back on TV

I"m really excited to tell you that our TV series, Songbirds - the First Ladies of Irish Song which we made for Irish TV about 7 years ago, is going to be shown across Ireland and the UK next month.

Delia Murphy
A small satellite station , Showcase TV, are going to show the series starting on the 19th June at 9pm.   If you're based here, the station is 191 - Showcase TV, which is under the banner of Irish TV.   There are 6 programmes in total and they'll be shown for 6 weeks, Thursday nights at 9pm.

A while back I wrote a post about the series which I narrated and was involved in making.  You can read more about it here ...

I had recorded a lot of songs that were popular when my mum was young and that I learned when I was a child.   After the CD was done we realised that most of the songs had first been recorded by one woman, Delia Murphy, between the mid 1930s and the mid 1950s - and she in turn influenced countless other female (and male) singers.   To cut a very long story short, we got to make a TV programme about her life for RTE based around my songs, and the one programme suddenly became 6.   At the time I was very unsure about using my recordings rather than theirs, but from the point of view of paying out huge royalties that we couldn't afford, it made sense.  So there are guest performers working with me and recording a song that pertained to each of the women in question who all had different styles of singing, but who all in essence sang the same repertoire.
I'll tell you more about each lady as the programme comes up for screening, but for now, here's a role call of them all.

  1. Delia Murphy - the first person recorded singing in her own accent
  2. Bridie Gallagher - the mother of Irish Country music
  3. Margaret Barry - a street singer and traveller who became a huge part of the British Folk Revival
  4. Mary O'Hara - harpist and classical style singer
  5. Ruby Murray - the pop singer who still holds the record for having 5 songs in the UK pop charts on the same week.
  6. And the 6th programme is an overview of all their lives - sometimes this is shown first.

Mary O'Hara

Ruby Murray

Bridie Gallagher

Margaret Barry

Wow!   I'm both nervous and excited - it'll be interesting to see the response.


  1. This is so exciting!!! I'd love to learn more about these ladies. Congratulations!

  2. Question: Does singing in your own accent mean singing in your native tongue?

    Father Nature's Corner

    1. Well yes G.B. - at that time, it was unusual not to sing in a classical style which was all the rage in the 20s and 30s. And nowadays, it's as Jo says, not singing in an American accent - particularly for folk music - the regional accent is what's desired. We hear only American music on the main radio stations so all the kids want to sound like their heroes naturally. And here in these islands the accents are so diverse and so rich.

  3. I imagine you mean not singing like an American which so many do these days. I am delighted for you and hope it is a great success.

  4. WOW, what an awesome and exciting thing for you. Congratulations! Keep us posted how it goes.

  5. Thank you so much all of you for your lovely comments :) Fingers crossed :)

  6. Hi Fil .. sounds amazing .. I don't think I can tune in .. as I don't pay for tv .. and can't access numerous sites .. just the usual BBC ones - I'm not often frustrated that I can't watch things .. but I'd have loved to have seen this .. many congratulations that RTV is putting it out ..

    Perfect timing .. and good luck with the tour .. cheers Hilary


Do drop me a line ... I love to read your comments :)