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27
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Hello everyone,

A very Happy New Year to you.!Let’s hope this is a good one. I think we deserve it. I was just listening to the song ‘Isle Of Hope, Isle Of Tears’, written by Brendan Graham. It’s about the first person that entered the United States, through Ellis Island.

I’m sure most folk know now, her name was Annie Moore, from County Cork. In a lot of ways, it’s thanks to Brendan, for writing such a wonderful heartfelt song, so we can remember her story. I thought it very fitting to mention the song because it happened on 1st of January, 1892. I hope my calculations are correct. It was 129 years ago on the 1st of this month.

Maybe some people won’t know of Brendan Graham, a Tipperary man, he is one of Ireland’s finest songwriters along with being a best selling novelist. Other songs written by Brendan I’m sure you will have heard are ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Kids’, and ’The Voice’ (both of which won the Eurovision Song Contest) and I’m sure you have all heard of the great song ‘You Raise Me Up’.

One of his books ‘The Whitest Flower’ (best seller) was written about the Irish Famine or Holocaust, as I would refer to it. The white flower being the flower of the potato plant. Brendan’s brother Colm, is a member of Andy Cooney’s Band. I got to hang out with him on the cruise my son Declan and I performed on. We had some great conversations onboard, having a lot in common- being friends of Margo O’Donnell, was one of them. In fact Colm Graham was lead guitarist in Margo’s band.

Remembering another date, on the 9th Jan 2012, Donegal Singer Bridie Gallagher passed away at age 87. She was known as the ‘Girl from Donegal’, over a 50-year career she played everywhere from the Royal Albert Hall (which was the biggest crowd on record before or since for this venue) in London to Carnegie Hall in New York and Sydney Opera House. At her show at the Albert Hall mounted police had to be used to hold back fans who blocked the surrounding streets.
Born in Creeslough, Donegal, Bridie Gallagher later made her home in Belfast, and it was there she was discovered by a Decca talent scout in 1956. Her first single for them - ‘A Mother’s Love’s a Blessing’ - was a big hit, (The first song I learned) and within a few short years she was performing on Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

The late 50s and 60s saw tens of thousands of Irish people emigrating. In Britain, America and Australia, Bridie packed out the theatres everywhere she sang. In later years, she told Margo O’Donnell, “You are now the ‘Girl From Donegal”

December 2020 was a sad month, we lost another lovely lady from Donegal, Sarah Birt, from Arranmore, and wife of Tom Birt, owners of the Sixpenny Bit Bar. She was one of the most pleasant people I have ever met. R.I.P. Sarah, I’ll never forget that wonderful smile of yours.

The music scene lost another legend, when Charley Pride passed away from complications brought on by Covid-19.

I was so privileged to have met him, on the night Daniel O’Donnell recorded the song we wrote, called ‘Erin Tennessee’. Charley was one of the guests on the show and it was plain to see that he was the real deal, he was a warm hearted gentleman. After meeting him I felt that I should write a song for him. Margo knew him a lot better than me, so we wrote the song together, along with our good friend James Thacker from Nashville.

Margo was on the Gertrude Byrne cruise along with Charley Pride soon after we’d written the song. So, I sang it on tape with just me and my guitar, and printed the words out for him. Margo said he was so happy that we’d written the song that he called his wife over to listen to it. He said to his wife “they wrote a song for your Charley”. I got an email from his management in Texas, to send the tape onto them and the lyrics, which I did. Unfortunately time beat us and he never got to record the song. I’m going to make it my song for this month. It’s a song for Charley Pride to his many fans and it’s titled ‘Thanks’     
As alway, be good to one another. Joe

‘Thanks’
Written by Joe McShane,
Margo O’Donnell and James Thacker
        Verse 1
    I grew up pickin’ cotton
    In a little Delta town
    Working from daybreak
    Till that mean old sun went down
    Out there from an early age
    I was singing from my soul
    With no idea what the future had to hold
        Verse 2
    A sharecropper’s son
    From Sledge Mississippi
    I pitched a lot of baseball
    Then I left for music City
    Pickin’ my guitar
    For two years you didn’t see
    All I have to offer you is me
        Chorus
    Thanks for these many years
    Of happiness and joy
    Thanks for a dream come true
    For this old country boy
    From singing on the Opry
    That circle as home base
    For standing here with you my friends
    All I can say is thanks
        Verse 3
    I’ve loved to sing those country songs
    From when I was a boy
    And as the years go rollin’ by
    They still bring me joy
    From the heart of Mississippi
    To Nashville, Tennessee
    I’ve always loved you all my friends
    Just between you and me
        Bridge
    You’re the reason I’ve been singing
    With love in every breath
    I want you all to know
    You’re too much to forget
        Chorus
    Thanks for these many years
    Of happiness and joy
    Thanks for a dream come true
    For this old country boy
    From singing on the Opry
    That circle as home base
    For standing here with you my friends
    All I can say is thanks!  

Check out Joes Website www.joemcshane.net
Joe’s FaceBook Music Page, his Songwriter Page
and his Irish American News Monthly Column
Joe can be reached at 847-226-4056.

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