cathal hayden - My Love is in Amerikay, Lord MacDonald’s and The Foxhunters
Ship and Dockside Gallery (location 23)
My Love is in Amerikay, Lord MacDonald’s and The Foxhunters are three very fine reels. As with the vast majority of “traditional” tunes we simply do not know who the composers are, but composed they most certainly were. The immediate aftermath of the famine left an indelible mark on Ireland, with over a million people dying and more than a million emigrating. A very substantial percentage of those emigrating made their way to north America, and with them travelled their customs and language and music and song. The Irish émigrés often stayed together in their various adopted cities – New York, Boston and Chicago, and their music remained strong and intact. A native of Cork, Francis O’Neill made his way across the Atlantic in the 1870s and became a policeman, rising rapidly through the ranks of the Chicago Police Department to become Chief of Police in the early years of the C20th. Hugely interested in Irish music, O’Neill collected and wrote down thousands of tunes from the musicians he encountered in and around Chicago and his collections and writings have had a profound bearing on the course of Irish music ever since. The three reels played here are published in his collections.
The Ship and Dockside Gallery is where the journey to America begins. Here you can imagine what it was like for Irish emigrants as they boarded the ship to the New World.
Lying in the dock is a reconstruction of an early 1800s ‘brig’. It is a reconstruction of the Brig Union which carried older members of the Mellon family to Baltimore in 1816. Two years later, Thomas Mellon and his parents emigrated. Fares varied, usually about £4 in 1800-1850, although there are references to fares of £10 and over.
The brig was a two-masted square-rigged sailing vessel measuring approximately 100 feet (30.5 metres) long. At the mercy of winds and weather, she could take anything from six to 12 weeks to reach the east coast of North America. The emigrant quarters and deck are actual size
This life-size scaled ship gives a grim interpretation of the conditions aboard which were far from comfortable. As many as 200 people and their belongings were squeezed into the “tween decks’ area as steerage passengers.
Much of the atmosphere of the ship’s interior has been re-created - the sounds of creaking timbers, the roughly-constructed berths, and the sparse cooking facilities.
The building facing the ship stood in Great Georges Street, Belfast, next to Ritchie’s dock, now Corporation Square. It dates from the 1800s. The building from the 1700s beside the ship is from Bridge Street, Londonderry, on the west bank of the River Foyle. Both were rebuilt at the Ulster American Folk Park in 1988.
Climb the stairs to the upper deck. Look at the galley or caboose on the upper deck of the ship. This is where main meals are cooked. Have a look for the ship’s wheel on the poop deck and the windlass for winding in the anchor.
Cathal is a fiddle and banjo player from County Tyrone. This virtuoso will be known to many from his band Four Men And A Dog, one of the most successful Irish bands of all time - their debut album “Barking Mad” is one of the most successful Irish Traditional albums in history. Having been immersed in music from a young age, he has received the All-Ireland Champion on both fiddle and banjo many times. Cathal has formed numerous alliances with musicians, including the renowned accordionist Mairtin O’Connor, piano accordion maestro Alan Kelly and Bothy Band piper Paddy Keegan. In more recent years the duet with Mairtin O’Connor has taken him across the globe and he has undertaken tours of Japan with the famous O’Domhnaill family, and China, Iceland and the Faroe Islands as guests of the Donal Lunny band. In addition to his many musical collaborations, Cathal has arranged scores for theatre productions for both the Lyric Theatre and Grand Opera House. After 40 years of playing, Cathal’s contribution to Irish music is immeasurable - he is Ireland’s greatest ambassador for banjo and fiddle playing and continues to thrill audiences across the world with his extraordinary musicianship.