Listen to The Green Fields Of France, especially performed for Ireland's Favourite Folk Song by Niall Hanna and Niamh Farrell, above, and read all about the song below...
Eric Bogle, a Scottish Australian folk singer-songwriter, was moved to write this famous anti-war song in 1976 following a trip he undertook that same year with his wife to Flanders where they visited a number of military cemeteries.
Following the visit he found himself ‘torn between anger and sadness at the young lives lost’. Bogle had no specific gravestone bearing the name ‘Willie McBride’ in mind when he wrote the song although there are eleven solders of that name buried in the various war cemeteries. He chose the name because it rhymed with ‘graveside’ and he wanted his young soldier to be Irish to highlight the significant role Irishmen had played in the Great War as a counter to the anti-Irish sentiment prevalent in Britain in the 1970’s. Bogle has stated that his main reason for writing this song was to illustrate ‘the utter waste of war while paying tribute to the courage and sacrifice of those brave young men who fought’.
Bogle based the melody and refrain on the cowboy ballad The Streets of Laredo which itself draws on the 18th century ballads The Unfortunate Rake and The Lock Hospital. Recorded widely worldwide, The Furey Brothers and Davy Arthur recorded Bogle’s song in 1979. It became a number one hit in Ireland where it remained in the charts for twenty-eight weeks.
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