Listen to The Town I Loved So Well, especially performed for Ireland's Favourite Folk Song by The Henry Girls, above, and read all about the song below...
This is one serious folksong that packs a powerful emotional punch and Luke Kelly, with his distinctive commanding voice, perfectly captures the range of passions the lyrics evoke.
It carries the listener on a rollercoaster of feelings from nostalgia and pride, through shock and grief, to end on a note of optimism for a better future. Written by Phil Coulter in 1972 at a dark time when the Northern Troubles were at a high point following ‘Bloody Sunday’, one of the song’s strengths is that it avoids any hint of rabble-rousing, neither does it attribute blame to either side in the conflict. Its tone moves from nostalgia, through grief and ends in optimism. One can feel the hint of anger at ‘the damned barbed wire’ and ‘their tanks and guns’ but all can raise their voices and sing out that ‘their hearts are set on tomorrow and peace once again’. It is heard equally at Croke Park before Derry games and by marching Orange bands.
The autobiographical lyrics have been described as ‘a personal lament’ and even ‘a prayer’ for a ‘bright brand new day’. Coulter sees it as ‘a love song’ to his native Derry. The song, first recorded by The Dubliners in 1973 for their album Plain & Simple, has become Phil Coulter’s signature. He claims it is the one songs for which he would like to be remembered.
Voting has now closed. Listen to the rest of the shortlist here.