Words by Liam Whelan, frontman of Flickertail.
Ireland, the isle of saints and scholars, home of Guinness, and place where Game of Thrones is filmed, is the only country in the world to have a musical instrument as its national emblem.
Your favourite Irish-Australian rock and roll four-piece are celebrating the release of their debut EP Hurry Up and Wait with a massive St Patrick’s Day party at the Fusebox in Marrickville, and have prepared this list of their favourite songs to belt out with your mum on St Patrick’s Day, with an accompanying drink to complement the palate.
Read ahead for the sauce, and grab your tickets to the EP launch here.
In accordance with their EP launch on St. Patrick’s Day, the lads of Flickertail have planned out your night one Irish belter at a time.
Fields of Athenry / A Pint of Guinness
Like most of the great Irish ballads, this song is about genocide. Cheery start to the list. As an Aussie, I feel a special connection to this one, because of the line “she’ll sing and hope and pray/for her love in Botany Bay”.
It’s about the men and women caught stealing food during the Great Hunger, in which although Ireland was producing a surplus of food, the Irish people were prevented from eating any of it, and millions starved to death, fled to the Americas, or were punished with a life sentence in Bondi.
Best paired with a pint of the black stuff, but to keep with the Australian connection, the stuff brewed here under license from Diageo. It’s not half as good as the real thing close to the source, but for this week it’ll do just fine.
Black Rose (Roisin Dubh) / Real Dublin Guinness
“My roisin dubh is my one and only true love”, sang Philip Lynott on this, the quintessential Thin Lizzy song. No other song showcases Philip’s mastery of sung poetry, nor Gary Moore and Scott Gorham’s command of the band’s legendary dual-lead attack, with such efficiency, or with such a sizeable wallop.
Packs in a good chunk of the great Irish songbook in the form of twin Les Pauls toward the business end, so I can kill several birds – including Danny Boy – with this one stone.
Phil himself preferred Smithwick’s, but I think for the imagery I’m going to have to go with the black rose in liquid form; Guinness, again, but from the source. Either exported in cans or you hop on a plane and pop in to St James’ Gate to blow the froth off an ice cold pint of black gold.
Shipping up to Boston / Sam Adams
My old man is going to chew me out on this one as an inauthentic American facsimile of the real thing, but St Patrick’s Day is as big a deal for those of us in the diaspora as it is for the folks at home, and I’ve yet to get through a single March 17 without hearing this iconic mandolin riff.
Obviously, the tune from Boston’s finest is best enjoyed alongside the town’s finest drop, Sam Adams.
The Wild Rover / Distilled Tap water
Although it’s likely accompanied as many drunken nights as your average 2.5 star Uber rating, this tune began life as a temperance (or sobriety) song. For people who, when offered a drink, say “no, nay, never – nay never, no more”.
You’d feel as useless as tits on a bull drinking to a song about sobriety, so tap water at room temperature it is. Make sure it’s the Pogues’ version because this is the 21st century and irony is very much in fashion.
St Patricks’ Day / Your Own Sweat
If you don’t bellow along with Damien Dempsey like a musk ox giving birth, then I’m going to assume you either have no voice box or no soul. The song about ordinary people, and the singing we’ll all be doing around the world for Paddy’s Day.
It’s hard work jumping around on stage like I do, and I’ve probably accidentally consumed at least a pint of my own sweat at my own shows, let alone seeing Damo in the flesh. Chase it with a vodka cranberry to signify the bright shade of red that descends upon our skin after a day in the sun.
The Foggy Dew / The Blood of an English Hun
The song perhaps most notorious for being Conor Macgregor’s walk-on music chronicles the events surrounding the 1916 Easter Rising, when a load of poets and academics – alongside a few reasonably well-trained amateur soldiers – called Ireland’s children to her flag and struck for her freedom.
The original Rising was summarily crushed by the long, unforgiving arm of the British empire, and the leaders were executed on the cold Kilmainham gravel, but the Republic survived and we got Sinead O’Connor’s heart-wrenching version of this song out of it.
Streams of Whiskey / Pogues Whiskey
The English word ‘whiskey’ actually comes from the Irish Gaelic ‘uiisce beatha’, which literally translates to ‘water of life’. A word of warning: although the English word ‘whiskey’ comes from the Irish word ‘uisce’, which means ‘water’, avoid drinking whiskey from a literal stream because this ruins the taste.
The Pogues actually released their very own line of Irish whiskey which, if you can get your mitts on it, would nicely finish off both this list and what I can only assume will be a St Patrick’s Day accompanied by responsible consumption of alcohol and a night of quality live music at the Fusebox.
Flickertail launch their debut EP Hurry Up and Wait on Saturday March 17th at the Fusebox in Marrickville. Grab your tickets here.