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Disciplines

6. HUMANITIES

Publication Details

Flyer for upcoming talk by Una Hunt on May 17th. 2017.

Abstract

The poet of all circles and the idol of his own…

The words of Lord Byron, inscribed on the tall Celtic cross erected on Thomas Moore’s grave, in Bromham churchyard, one hundred years ago. Thomas Moore wrote a biography of Byron, his close friend, and Byron adored the Irish Melodies. He told Moore ‘I have them by heart … they are my matins and my vespers.’ Although he moved easily in privileged circles, Moore was also genuinely loved by the people of Ireland where he was described as ‘the true hearted Irishman.’

Ten volumes of Irish Melodies totalling 124 songs, were published in London and Dublin between 1808 and 1834 by the publishers James and William Power. Their immediate appeal to the public was enhanced by the music that Moore chose for his poetry with airs drawn largely from anthologies of ancient harp music, particularly the collections of Edward Bunting, first published after the Belfast Harp Festival in 1792. Taking on a new life, the songs brought the ancient music of Ireland before a global audience for the first time and were acclaimed both for the beauty of their melodies and their symbolic significance.

Throughout one of Ireland’s darkest periods Moore’s Irish Melodies were a source of national pride, reflecting many aspects of national identity, from gentle love of country to revolution. Not content with confining themselves to these shores, the political songs went round the world and later became symbolic rallying cries in Poland, Hungary, Russia and Cuba.

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