Performing a song about an Irish immigrant in the US dreaming of home, Irish folk legend Christy Moore and Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan do "Spancil Hill" proud.
The saddest part of this treasure of a video clip is Gay Byrne's introduction to the live music performance on the "Late Late Show", the biggest gig on Irish TV. Sadly Gay Byrne, known simply as "Gay" to the nation, passed away in 2019. A pioneer of Irish TV and radio he is sadly missed.
What a treat to have the dulcet tones of Christy Moore and Shane McGowan singing this iconic song, "Spancill Hill".
The song was composed by Michael Considine (1850–73), who was born in Spancil Hill and migrated to the US. "Spancil Hill" bemoans the plight of the Irish emigrants who so longed for home from their new lives in America. This song is sung by a man who longs for his home in Spancill Hill, County Clare, his friends and the love he left there. All the characters and places in this song are real.
Considine spent his first few years of emigration in Boston before moving west to follow the gold rush in California. He fell into bad health at the very young age of 23 and it was during this time that he wrote the poem of Spancil Hill which then turned into a ballad. Considine did not see past his 23 years and died in 1873.
Before he succumbed to death he managed to send his ballad to his six-year-old nephew John Considine in Clare who kept it safe.
In the ballad, we hear the emigrant pine for the girl he left behind. In Michael Considine’s case, he left Spancil Hill for America with the intention of bringing his sweetheart over when he had made enough money but, sadly it never materialized.
Perhaps now you know the sad tale this wonderful performance by Christy Moore and Shane MacGowan will hit a little differently.