06 Oct 2022

Nenagh songwriter Brendan Graham's new song recalls Ireland's links to Canada

Nenagh songwriter Brendan's new song recalls Ireland's links to Canada

Nenagh singer / songerwriter Brendan Graham with the Canadian ambassador Kevin Vickers, and siner Seane Keane, left, and Newport composer Denis Carey

Internationally renowned Nenagh singer / songwriter and author Brendan Graham has written a song specially to mark Canada 150, the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.

The song, The Coast of Labrador, was launched at the end of June in Waterford by the Canadian ambassador to Ireland, Kevin Vickers.

Also involved in the song is Newport composer Denis Carey and both were at its premiere performance by singer Seán Keane in an event organised by Waterford Civic Trust, in association with Waterford City and County Council. Sean Keane also has Tipperary links, having once lived outside Carrigahorrig on the Borrisokane to Portumna road.

The Coast of Labrador is set during the 19th century, a period of extensive emigration to Labrador, Newfoundland and the eastern shores of Canada from the southeast of Ireland.

It tells the story of a young Waterford fisherman who emigrates to Labrador, finding a new life there with a local Inuit girl.

He brings with him his sliotar and hurling stick and teaches his son to play “hurling on ice”, the forerunner to “hockey on ice”.

The song is a reminder of the long historical links between Ireland’s southeastern shore and and Canada’s eastern shore based on commercial activities which were well established by the end of the 18th century.

Between February and March of each year, ships from the ports of southwest England heading for the rich cod fisheries of Newfoundland arrived at Waterford to take on supplies and passengers. Many people from the southeast went to Newfoundland (Talamh an Éisc) in search of employment.

Such was their impact that in 1842 Newfoundland was called “Transatlantic Ireland”, with one observer stating that “Newfoundland is merely Waterford parted from the sea”.

Brendan describes The Coast of Labrador, as “a further acknowledgement of the great contribution of the peoples of the Déise area to the growth of their adopted country of Canada and the strong historical and cultural connections between the southeast of Ireland, and Newfoundland and Labrador.”

The Coast of Labrador by Seán Keane is available on iTunes

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