A tribute from the band The Irish Brigade to the Irish singer songwriter Paddy McGuigan who passed away recently on St Patrick’s Day following a short illness. He is survived by his wife Cecilia, a daughter, and two grandchildren.
Paddy McGuigan with the ‘Barleycorn’ along with ‘The Flying Column’ led the first cohort of Irish Republican music in the north of Ireland from the earliest days of ‘The Troubles…’. Where they led many were to follow but none were to surpass. The songs written by Paddy were an inspiration to Irish singers and groups all over the world and Paddy’s songs were, without doubt, a major influence on my own songs written for the Irish Brigade. Paddy’s songs were lyrical, melodic and direct to the point. They had the power to “fill our hearts and raise our spirits”. They were greats songs which have stood the test of time and can still be heard wherever the Irish gather all over the world.
The iconic ‘Men Behind the Wire’ (48 weeks in the Irish Charts, though banned by RTÉ) was a song that gave a boost to the morale of a people who, at that period in our history, felt deprived and downtrodden – a community that choose defiance rather than despair. Such songs can be seen as an accurate first hand reflection of the conditions at that time and as a commentary on social and community views throughout the troubles. Songs like ‘The Irish Solider Laddie’, ‘Freedom Walk’ and ‘Bring Them Home’ remain an essential part of any Ballad singer’s repertoire.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Paddy on a few occasions in the early eighties. The most memorable was on the night before Tyrone played Kerry in the All Ireland Final in 1986. Paddy joined us on the stage for a few numbers. He sang a song he had just written for the Tyrone team and presented it for us to record to celebrate the much hoped for victory. Needless to say, sadly, neither a victory nor the song was recorded!
Strange to note, I was talking to Kevin Manning from the legendary Wolfhound ballad group on Saturday the 15th of March. He joined us for a few songs in Bar32 in Luton. He spoke fondly of his memories of Paddy in the Early 70’s and how Paddy gave Wolfhound ‘The Boys of the Old Brigade’ to be their first record. Little did either of us think that just over 24 hours later, we would be hearing of his death.
Paddy Joe McGuigan passed away on the 17th of March 2014, on the feast of his namesake and Patron Saint of Ireland. There is an old belief that it is Saint Patrick, himself, who judges the Irish at The Golden Gates. If this is so, they will have been opened wide and the welcome, the music and the craic will have been out of this world!
Rest in peace Paddy, the legacy of your songs and music will live on forever.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.
The Irish Brigade are one of Ireland’s foremost folk and traditional bands. They recently featured in the UK Top 40 Singles chart with the song ‘Roll Of Honour’ the fascinating story of which can be found here. To find them on Facebook go here…