Celtic and Ireland in Song and Story is one of the more important books about Celtic, published in recent years. At a time of renewed establishment pressure on the origins and “Irishness” of our club, Raymond Daly and Derek Warfield (of Wolfe Tones fame) bring us an extremely insightful reference work on the origins and background of the songs we’re used to singing in Celtic-minded company.
Almost all of the songs are there, although naturally there is a distinct Wolfe Tones bias in those that are discussed. This is no bad thing, given the sheer body of work that the Wolfe Tones (and latterly Derek Warfield in a solo capacity) has produced over the last 45 years. However, some of the more recent songs sung and written by bands such as Gary Og, Shebeen, Charlie and the Bhoys, and Adelante are sadly missed from the collection.
One excellent part of the book is the season by season review of Celtic songs. Some have come and many have gone, but this book nostalgically brings them back to life. The research that has gone into the book is extremely impressive and the text is written in an objective and informative way.
By far the most important contribution of the book is that it informs Celtic fans themselves. Sadly, far too many sing or hear such ditties as “The Fields of Athenry”, “Broad Black Brimmer”, “The Boys of the Old Brigade”, or “Sean South” without having a clue as to what they’re about, when they were set or the players that are discussed. Little wonder then, that the media, politicians and general public criticize Celtic fans for having Sectarian tunes in their musical repertoire.
If you’ve ever wondered who Michael and Mary were, who was Brave O’Hanlon, what is a Broad Black Brimmer or Sam Brown Belt, and why father exactly was so sad one Easter morn, this is the book for you. A definite purchase and something you’ll go back to year after year.