‘Wayfaring Stranger/The Dowie Dens of Yarrow’, with the introductory piece ‘Musical Evolution’, are two tracks from Helena Byrne’s latest album ‘Tóraíocht Shonais’ (Pursuit of Happiness), illustrating the story of North America’s musical development through the influence of it’s many immigrant cultures.
The ‘New World’s’ popular culture wasn’t created overnight. This unsynchronized patchwork of cultures borrowed and blended with one another, not least through their music. The Scots-Irish, or Ulster-Irish, who arrived in the 18th century and climbed their way along the Appalachian Mountains didn’t come empty handed. They brought their fiddles. Traditional Irish and Scottish songs met with the African banjo. Harmonies, rhythms and styles mingled and meandered with one another into jazz, bluegrass, blues, gospel, country and rock & roll.
American folk song ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ is often regarded as the anthem of the traveler, the brave immigrant seeking a better life in the New World. It’s melody is believed to have originated from the 17th century Scottish ballad ‘The Dowie Dens of Yarrow’ and was most likely carried to the New World by Scots-Irish immigrants.
‘Tóraíocht Shonais’ is a collection of stories and songs that illustrate the history of Irish emigration to the United States & Canada.
A note from Helena: “With this album, I hope to bring the listener on a journey through the Irish experience of emigration to the New World; the excitement, the tragedy, the hopes and aspirations for a better life.”
‘Tóraíocht Shonais’ includes 8 songs alongside incredible stories of Irish emigration through the ages; emigration during the Great Famine, travelling on the Titanic, the Irish in the Wild West, John F. Kennedy’s visit to Ireland and so much more.
“This album is beautiful piece of craftmanship and will be enjoyed by both the Irish diaspora family and those who simply have a love of Irish music and stories alike” – Travel Ireland Magazine, December 2017
Order your copy of ‘Tóraíocht Shonais’ (CD & MP3s)
All vocals by Helena Byrne. Guitar & Banjo by Bill Shanley. Fiddle by Cathy McEvoy.
Recorded & Mixed by Michael Manning. Mastered by David Montuy.
Photography by Laelia Milleri. Dress by Claire Garvey.
Arranged & produced by Helena Byrne