Music Monday

Music Monday – Grace (Ireland)

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!

My Life

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St Pats Collage
A few of our St. Paddy’s parties through the years!

You may have guessed from the name McNally that I have a touch o’ the Irish in me. To be honest, most of my Irishness comes from Himself, the Boston Irishman I married and love so dearly. On our very first blind date 20+ years ago, he played me a song called “The Town I Loved So Well”, and I got teary-eyed at the beauty and sadness of it. I eagerly embraced the Irish heritage, and Himself laughs now that I’m “more Irish than him” when it comes to history and music.


To say our St. Paddy’s party is a big event is putting it mildly – our house fills with friends and family, and the music and beer are flowing! After dinner, I serenade with a collection of our favorite melodies, including my favorite love song, “Grace,” which is based on a true story during the Irish struggle for freedom (and I’ve stood in the prison chapel where they wed). Of course, being an Irish song, ’tis tragic, for Ireland is a nation with a tragic past.

As G.K. Chesterton wrote: “The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.”

But there is much joy and beauty in the Ireland of today. And the Irish people are beyond compare – warm and friendly and full of laughter. So I’ll share some photos from our last trip to the Emerald Isle (click on any photo to start a slide show), and wish you all the very merriest of St. Patrick’s Days!  And yes, in case you’re wondering, there will be some Irish characters in future books, and perhaps a story set in Ireland itself.