Declan O'Rourke Johnny Hold Lantern

Declan O’Rourke Along Western Seaboard

Declan O’Rourke Along Western Seaboard

Along the Western Seaboard

A harp gently opens Along the Western Seaboard,  the second song on Declan O’Rourke’s Chronicle of the Irish Famine. An equally gentle acoustic guitar joins the harp.

And that is the album’s artful approach. If one didn’t understand English and only heard the melody, one could easily misinterpret the content’s message: we begged but no one listened.

But you do understand English. The English may have stolen the Irish land, but the Irish stole the English llanguage.

O’Rourke’s words tell the story so well, it is often difficult to continue–knowing we are listening to true horror.

Declan O’Rourke Along Western Seaboard

Heavenly Father

This song is told through the voice of a parish priest. The Irish population was  80% Catholic and naturally it turned to him for temporal succor.  Surrounded by suffering and the priest begs God for help:

Lord what can we do now, oh good lord what can we do

When we need to feed so many, and there’s not even for the few 

Lord what can we do now, oh good lord what can we do

They are starving! They are freezing!

And their clothes have all worn through.

Declan O’Rourke Along Western Seaboard

Daniel O’Connell

Declan O'Rourke Along Western Seaboard
Daniel O’Connell

Since little help seemingly came from Above,  a few on terra firma did their best. The Great Emancipator Daniel O’Connell said to the House of Commons at the Famine’s height in 1847:

Ireland is in your hands, in your power. If you do not save her, she cannot save herself. I solemnly call upon you to recollect that I predict with the sincerest conviction that a quarter of her population will perish unless you come to her relief.


Declan O’Rourke Along Western Seaboard

Their own fault

As was the case then (and too often the case now), the English blamed the Irish misfortune on the misfortunate themselves.

The common view  by those “with” was that the Irish poor had brought about their own situation. Thus they deserved the tragedy and if the British were to assist them, it meant many strings attached despite the reality that, “they have no strength to help themselves.”

Chicken feed and sand was on the way.

If any father had treated his children the way that the priest’s Father was treating his children, he would have been prosecuted.

Declan O’Rourke Along Western Seaboard

Chronicles

For the start of this review series, see Declan O’Rourke Chronicles Irish Famine which covers the album’s first song, “Clogman’s Glen.”

Link to a London Celtic Punks site article which includes a performance of Clogman’s Glen.

Declan O’Rourke Along Western Seaboard
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