It's not always easy to forget the sod from which you sprung; whoever you are and wherever you are from, whether it be Derry or Gdansk.
Only the experience of exile can evoke such deep longing for a homeland.
Some of our finest Irish songs address this theme.
The older the emigrant, the call of home and boyhood days often seems to pull more reflectively and romantically on the memory and heartstrings.
Although the main character in the title track emigrated at seventeen, my uncle Sean first left for Scotland at fourteen.
My other uncles Tommy and Hugh also emigrated for want of work and spent a lifetime in the Liverpool area.
In regard to working in 'steel, sweat and fire' as described in the song, as uncle Charles died in a blast furnace incident in Glasgow.
This song is dedicated to them and the countless others who said "Farewell to Derry".
This song was inspired by a longing for peace in a land that has known more than its fair share of troubles.
In particular, I wrote it at the time of the disturbances and protests around the 'Holy Cross' primary school in Belfast.
The experience was evidently traumatic and distressful for the children, their parents and their pastor Aidan.
It is a song of joy and of hope for a lasting peace.
This is a song about a lost and unrequited love.
In spite of the deep sense of loss the poet in the chorus sings:
'Bring back the summer sunshine.
May Blossoms scent the air.
Let swallows scent the hillside.
And love be everywhere'.
The song displays a deep spiritual side to love and no matter how well a match may be made in heaven the departing lover always has a free will and choice to leave.
No matter what the angels plead.
The song is about Tomas, my grandfather, who was born in 1875.
The necessity of the gentry to have a skilled blacksmith, I believe, saved my forefathers from the worst ravages of ' The Great Hunger' of 1847-8.
The famine which lead to the emigration and death of milions.
The Loughrey family, patrons of the forge, were landowners in the town land of Mullenan and also had a grand stately residence several miles away on the other side of the river Foyle.
By coincidence, as a youth, I worked for an eldery Miss Loughrey, as her gardener, towards the end of her life.
Some fifty years after Tomas has shoed her horses.
She spoke fondly of the forge, of Tomas and her journeys to the forge by horseback.
As well as being a gifted musician Tomas was gifted with an uncanny ability to communicate with horses.
Once when a spooked carthorse was running amok in Bishop Street, with its cargo scattering to the wind and the drover panic striken at a safe distance, he boldly and calmly walked up to to it, reached out, stroked it and whispered in its ear.
Tranquility was restored to the marvel of the bystanders.
However, his gift with horses had its unfortunate limitations.
He once attempted to shoe a stallion which turned on him and fatally injured him.
My father, the eldest son, was too young to learn the trade and the forge was closed.
So ended a long line of blacksmiths.
The song is a celebration of music, drinking ,dancing, good company, having a few pounds in your pocket and returning home after a long absence for the 'craic'.
The words are set to traditional dance tunes.
We all experience 'a dark night of the soul' in our lives.
I know I sure have in mine.
It has been my personal faith and a trust in God which has helped me through at these times.
The song is scripture based and continues to speak to me with a constant freshness.
I was initially moved to write this after reading an article in the Irish Post about a boy and girl who were sold at a 'hiring fair', or slave market, such as the one held in 'The Diamond' in Derry until the 1930's.
They were seperated and only reunited some sixty years later.
Lord Culmore, an absentee landlord, has a grand country house and estate in Hereford which I visited some years ago.
It was arguably built on the backs of an exploited labour force.
The main character is called Dohert as my foreparents, on my mother's side of the family, were O'Doherty.
Furthermore, stories about an uncle Sean, who eloped with his sweetheart to Scotland in search of work brewed and fermented to seal the plot.
One of his decendants, Chuck, an American, turned up in Derry some eighty years later in search of his roots.
From Scotland Sean had evidently emigrated to the States.
The song is dedicated to him, his decendants and all hirelings of yesteryears and our own times.
Michael McGowan, in his biography, "The hard road to Klondike" ( The Great Wheel of Life ) gives a poignant account of what it was like to be sold at Letterkenny Fair at nine years of age.
Furthermore, John McLaughlin, in his book 'Carrowmenagh' tells of the cruel treatment by landlords, typified in the ruthless evictions in the winter of 1881.
I was first moved to write this romantic song many years ago and it took a long time to come to fruition.
It is a love song expressing total devotion and the bliss of being deeply and totally in love.
How do you express to a dear friend a sincere sense of compassion for the loss of his beloved daughter.
I was moved to write this as a way of giving a sense of hope and sharing a belief in their being as one, once more and singing again the songs that they once shared.
I have been truly blessed with the constant love of a woman through 'thick and thin', for better or for worse.
This song is a tribute to and celebration of enduring love.
This is a short fiddle tune, inspired by the beautiful district after which it is named on the Derry/Donegal border.
It is the area in which my grandfather had his forge and where he played as a fiddler.
An American friend asked me what it was like growing up in Derry during the 'Irish Wars'.
I replied with my customary soft platitudes, which had enabled me to dodge the truth when asked a similar question before.
i had learned from my father the keynote to survival during 'The Troubles'.
" Whatever you say, say nothing! ".
But Rebecca's father had been tortured as a POW during the Korean War.
He was not the same person when he returned home and his experience had been concealed by Governmental secrecy.
She pushed me hard, 'the bottle broke', shattered to smithereens and I told her my truth.
She thanked me and the song bubbled up from the deep.