The Sack of Balbriggan – A Tribute by Balbriggan Musicians

September 20, 2020 0

Three songs were written and performed by local people as a contribution in music to the many and varied events scheduled for the people of the town to commemorate the Sack of Balbriggan by the Black and Tans on the night of 20th September 1920. The song ‘Balbriggan 1920’ was written and performed by Martin McEvoy on guitar, with Seán Kiernan vocal on whistle and banjo.

The Sack of Balbriggan A Tribute by Balbriggan Musicians 20-sep-20 picThe song ‘No Justice’ was written and performed by Eugene White on guitar and vocal, with guest Dave Hamill on Bass and additional guitar, and Seán Kiernan on whistle, guest Martin McEvoy on additional guitar.

The song ‘Century’ was written and performed by Tommy Cardiff on guitar and vocals, with Eugene White on bodhrán and additional guitar, Liam Timmons on fiddle, Seán Kiernan on Low Whistle, and special instrumentals added from Seósu productions.

The songs ‘Balbriggan 1920’ and ‘No Justice’ aspire to imagine and convey vivid witness accounts of what it must have been like to be an innocent civilian member of the townsfolk in the midst of the attack, and what it felt like and meant to the people of the town to see two young townsmen brutally murdered by the Black and Tans, to see so many families made homeless, and to see so many businesses that were vital to the local economy destroyed in a night of savage violence and shameful acts perpetrated by Crown forces.

The song ‘Century’ aspires to lightly sketch the political context, the behaviour of the British Empire/Government in Ireland, and the deliberate and cynical use of battle-hardened World War One veterans to pursue a policy of cringing submission and fear on the civil population in the guise of assisting the police force to subdue so called terrorism by IRA volunteers. The song also seeks to link the oppression perpetrated by the British Empire in Ireland with a similar form of oppression now being perpetrated a hundred years on by the Corona Virus’ Empire. Both Empires “deprive us of our freedom, our culture and our wealth, forbid us our human touch, and threaten life and hope.”

The songs finish with a simple message that mutual respect for our shared humanity is the only way to overcome adversity in all its forms and achieve life lived in peace and harmony.

The musicians who produced these songs had planned since February to seek to bring together this anniversary week-end all of the local musicians and session groups who have performed and entertained people at all of the venues in and around the town over the past forty years. The hope was to run special music sessions in all the venues as a contribution in music to the commemoration events. As we all know, the Corona Virus has wreaked havoc on ordinary life since March and continues to do so. The songs you have heard were put together remotely using technology and email and were never actually rehearsed together in person by the musicians – this was in order to comply with the public health advice and restrictions due to the pandemic.

It can only be hoped that we can all get together again soon and try to restart the culture of music and simple entertainment as soon as possible. There are far too many musicians and groups to mention here, and these three songs are offered on all of our behalf towards the commemoration.

Kind regards to all,
Eugene White and Tom Cardiff