After almost two months of inpatient waiting, Ed Sheeran’s Irish traditional songs are finally here and they are completely living up to expectations. The English singer-songwriter announced in January he would feature two songs on his new album heavily influenced by the Irish music tradition after collaborating with Belfast-based group Beoga and since the release of “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan” this morning, we haven’t stopped streaming.
Featuring on the pop icon’s third studio album “÷ [Divide]” released on March 3, both songs have already lilted their way into the hearts of the Irish people and are climbing into the top ten.
“Galway Girl” is the song Sheeran promised earlier this year would be “the song” for Ireland and it hasn’t disappointed with Beoga's fiddle, pipe and bodhran sounds giving the songs an authentic feel. It also makes us yearn for a night out in Dublin as the singer/storyteller tells of an evening spent with a fiddle player he met on Grafton St, a love story about "a Galway girl and a perfect night”, as the man said himself.
We may be biased but we also think it sounds like a fantastic ode to Irish woman as he tells about the musician he spent a night drinking and smoking with who “beat me at darts and then she beat me at pool” but then sat down and sang Carrickfergus to him with a voice Sheeran admits he could listen to on repeat for a week. If this song was inspired by a real night Sheeran had in Dublin, whomever this Galway Girl is must be feeling pretty special right now.
His second Irish track is also a love song and a tribute to his grandparents Nancy Mulligan (after whom the song is named) and William Sheeran, who met during World War II and now have eight children and 22 grandchildren (including Sheeran). Despite their different religions, which would have been an issue at that time in Ireland, and a refusal from his grandmother’s father to accept the proposal, the pair ran away to marry on the Wexford border, where his grandmother still resides, and enjoyed a 60-year romance.
Told from the perspective of William Sheeran, the love story is beautiful including lines such as: "From a farm boy born near Belfast town, I never worried about the King and Crown, because I found my heart on the Southern ground, there's no difference I assure you..."
With a slightly more trad edge to “Nancy Mulligan”, we wonder if it was this or “Galway Girl” for which Sheeran will require Irish dancers for his video.
And to think we almost never had these songs! The English singer previously told The Guardian that his record company was not enamored with the idea of “folk” songs and it took a push by Sheeran to make it happen.
“They were really, really against Galway Girl, because apparently, folk music isn’t cool,” he said.
“But there’s 400m people in the world that say they’re Irish, even if they’re not Irish.....And those people are going to f**king love it. “
What do you think of “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan”? Let us know in the comments section!