The kitchen girls at Arnold’s Hotel in Donegal taught me to sing. As soon as we were in the car and away from work, they sang their hearts out. I’d never heard anything like it.
For me, my own work in Ireland was a total joy. I really felt that, could I have afforded it, I would willingly have paid to be allowed to do this job!
For six years I returned to Dunfanaghy, running the Riding Holiday Centre there for the summer season. It gave me everything I wanted. As an out-and-out nature lover, Donegal gave me horses, hills, birds, nature, sea, folklore, singing bars, and a soft west coast accent.
It also gave me new people of many different nationalities, European, Scandanavian, Brazilian, American, Canadian, to share this personal paradise with each week. It was my privilege to show them the countryside on horseback, and watch the delight spread across their faces.
It confirmed, over and over again, I was not the only one to be deeply touched by this environment. Previously, I’d worked in Scotland, Wales, the Lake District, so I had already been blessed with the best of natural beauty.
Once away from Donegal, I couldn’t wait to get back. And the connection that kept it live through long winter months were Irish songs and dance-tunes. The Londonderry Air, so old and traditional, rooted in the effect of warfare on young love, flagged up my own longing to return to the wild north-west coast.
But we mature, we change, and find a ‘new self.’ So many old songs have gorgeous tunes, but the lyrics no longer to speak to our reality today. This is why, as a professional writer, I turned my hand, heart, and head to writing eco-lyrics to famous out-of-copyright song-tunes, anthems, carols, and hymns.
I approached the Londonderry Air (aka “Danny Boy”) with caution. I had to find the eco-lyrics that ‘said it all.’ Captured the deep beauty and pain of being hopelessly in love, the choices we are faced with, and the deepening respect we hold for something that we are in danger of losing.
Oh Planet Earth
Oh Planet Earth, the gifts, the gifts you’re giving
from year to year and through our whole lifelong.
The debt we owe to you is beyond paying.
It’s you, it’s you, the heart of every song.
I know no way to thank you that is good enough.
Or any act of mine that can assure…
Our human need to love leads us to gratitude
for Planet Earth. Our love’s rebirth, my heart’s desire.
But should we choose to turn away and disown
our very first relationship so grand.
Then Earth will give no lasting peace to anyone.
The laws of life so sacredly entwined.
Oh Planet Earth, the time, the time is coming,
when all who love will see you as you are.
A living miracle so rich its making,
inviting all on Earth to be one of her stars.
It took a few years to find a singer with the talent and feeling to marry the richness of this great old tune to the eco-lyrics to champion intergenerational connectivity and the ecological cause.
It is my hope that many other Irish singers will take these eco-lyrics and deliver them in singing pubs and bars as a way to stop us all going into amnesia as our habitual reaction to what we are doing to our lovely Earth.
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