Flame of Freedom
By Wexford Artists
Available from Sinn Féin shops
In tandem with the launch of a new Sinn Féin cumann in Ferns, County Wexford, this Friday, 22 September, the latest development in Sinn Féin's remarkable recent resurgance in the county, a new album is also being launched.
This collection of ballads and tunes is not your average republican collection. While most of the offerings in this genre of recent times have been unremarkable, Flame of Freedom has original touches and can boast both local and broad appeal. On one level, it is very Wexford, reflecting intimately a wellspring of revolutionary feeling that has always existed in the sunny southeast, where Strongbow first set foot on Irish soil and where Father Murphy set the heather blazing in an effort to drive the Normans' descendents back into the sea. On another, it reflects the breadth and sweep of the struggle for national liberation. The chosen ballads reflect 200 years of republican struggle, including Sean South, The People's Own MP, Wrap the Green Flag Round Me and The Ballad of Tom Williams.
The quality may be patchy in parts, but this is an album with soul and direction, not just a hotchpotch of republican favourites thrown together at random. It features a wide variety of instruments and styles, from a trombone-led rendition of Boolavogue, to Fionntáin Ó Súileabháin's recitation of Padraic Pearse's The Rebel as Mise Éire plays in the background.
This was the first time I had heard The Ballad of Ed O'Brien, which was rendered with feeling and obvious pride in a local Volunteer who lost his life so tragically and so recently, but with all due respect to the writer and the singer, for my taste the lyrics were outmoded.
Distinctively Wexford was the uplifting and all too brief lilting session on side two and I enjoyed also the accordion medley on side one. All in all, a commendable local effort.
Joe Davitt and Eddie Carr from the recently formed Ferns Sinn Féin Cumann in Wexford display a demilitarisation mural erected in Ferns which places the military garrison in the Six Counties in a local context