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Leahy captures spirit of Ireland with new song and video

June 22nd, 2024 11:00 AM

By Martin Claffey

Leahy captures spirit of Ireland with new song and video Image
Martin Leahy’s version of This Land Is Your Land has a special Irish twist. (Photo: Michael Meade)

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BANDON singer Martin Leahy has released his latest track, a special cover of the Woody Guthrie classic This Land Is Your Land with an Irish spin.

The song features new lyrics re-written by Martin and fellow musician Gary Baus to include Irish place names. Martin sings the song and plays all the instruments on the track and is joined on backing vocals by Christina Collins, Martin Minihane, Aine O’Gorman, and Christy Leahy.

‘It’s a song for everyone,’ Martin told The Southern Star. ‘The idea started when myself and Gary were heading to an Ireland for All rally in February last year. We were playing guitar as we marched and had the idea of playing This Land Is Your Land but the American place names didn’t seem to work on the march. Billy Bragg did a version of it with UK place names in the 1990s so we thought we’d do it with Irish ones.’

Now instead of going ‘from California to the New York island, from the Redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters’, the song takes us ‘from the Wicklow Mountains up to Rathlin Island, from the Hills of Kerry to the waters of the Liffey’.

The Woody Guthrie classic was written 80 years ago and has been an upbeat song of protest since, and Martin believes it resonates with Ireland today.

‘The whole idea of our song and the video is an anti-racism initiative but with a celebratory message of how we are stronger together. The track has a positive uplifting message and celebrates the joy of diversity and equality.’

The accompanying video features a smorgasbord of well-known artists, entertainers, and activists including much loved local musicians like Aine O’Gorman, Victoria Keating, and John Spillane; the owner of Izz Café in Cork city Izzeddeen Alkarajeh, broadcaster and writer Dion Fanning, comedian and performer Tadhg Hickey, and Penny Dinners coordinator Caitriona Twomey and the Penny Dinners staff to name but a few.

Martin has also got great support from Christy Moore, who has covered Martin’s song Snowflakes, and previously performed with the music legend at Vicar Street and the Opera House, though there are no plans to join the Kildare man on stage at the Marquee later this

Meanwhile Martin continues his weekly protest against homelessness outside Dáil Éireann, now running for more than two years.

‘I get very positive interaction with the opposition and huge amount of support, though not from Government parties,’ said Martin, who admits that it can be hard to continue.

‘When it’s cold and rainy, and you’re outside playing, it does wane,’ he said. ‘But it definitely helps with the encouragement. Mine is a very small voice but keeping it in the headlines.

‘Someone asked me recently will I do it in a year’s time but to answer that is just too overwhelming so I just take it week to week, as long as it feels useful. When the homeless figures come out, that’s when it feels real. It’s dispiriting but gives a motivation to keep it

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