We danced to this Irish song at our wedding, over the objections of the Irish band we’d hired. Why did they object? Because the song is a true story, and it’s tragic. Most Irish songs are sad. In fact, CK Chesterson wrote that the Irish were mad, for “all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.”
But the song, Grace, is an inspiration for my tag line as a writer: Stories of Forever Love. Because love transcends all, including death. This is a song about Irish freedom fighter Joseph Plunkett, who was a young poet in poor health, and his fiancée, Grace Gifford. Joseph was arrested after joining his friends in the Easter Uprising in Dublin in 1916, a failed attempt to expel the British from Ireland that forever changed Irish history. He was executed for his efforts, but, on the eve of his execution, the British allowed him to marry his love, Grace Gifford, in the chapel of Kilmainham jail in Dublin. To me, that is forever love – marrying your beloved with that knowledge hanging over you.
How much do I love this song? I’ve seen this singer, Tommy Byrne of the Wolfe Tones, sing it live on multiple occasions. I’ve sung it myself in several countries (including Ireland!). I’ve stood in the chapel of the Kilmainham jail in Dublin where they were wed. I’ve seen the ring Joseph placed on Grace’s finger. I’ve stood where he died. I’ll be singing it at our St. Patrick’s party this weekend. I may be a bit obsessed with this Irish story of forever love. And I hope you enjoy listening to it. Erin Go Bragh!