In a space as old and seemingly permanent as Killruddery, life is varied, full and colourful, thus this blog responding to all that is Killruddery, will take many a twist and turn.
Today I would like to share a song performed by Composer and Musician Nico Brown.
THE KILLRUDDERY HUNT Jointly written by actor Thomas Mozeen (1720 – 1768) and Owen Bray, of Loughlinstown, Co. Dublin, who set it to the old Irish tune of “Sighile ni Ghadharadh,” or Celia O’Gara. It was published in a volume called The Lyric Pacquet by Mozeen, in 1764, and soon became enormously popular. The ballad was a prime favourite with Theobald Wolfe Tone, who in a letter dated 25th April 1797, quoted a line of it: ‘Set out from Cologne ‘at five in the morning by most of the clocks,‘ on my way,’ etc. [Extracted from information shared on www.countrysongs.ie]
Nico has been been a regular guest at Killruddery as part of our Events Programme or as Artist-in-Residence on numerous occasions since 2009, usually as part of a well-loved musical duo nicoandmartin. Most recently they stayed to release their characteristically soothing and outstandingly beautiful album; Owl Music (available in all good Killruddery Farm Shops!). The Killruddery Hunt sits framed in our Library, there Nico found it and here is a recording of his rendition of the song, which illustrates a hunt in the1744; in which the hunt travels across fields from Loughlinstown to Delgany and the writing of which, a contemporary of Killruddery Hunt; the painting, which hangs in our Library also!
I asked Nico to write a little on his experience of Killruddery to accompany a release here of his version of the song and to my surprise a whole new ballad is born…I’ll leave it here tonight…Please enjoy both Audio and Poem below!
Yours Truly – Fionnuala Ardee
ON THE KILLRUDDERY HUNT
I was living in Bray, at the end of the Strand
When I first walked the edge of Killruddery’s land.
As I roamed on the Head, with the sea far below
I found walls beyond which I was not free to go.
A blank spot on the map, secret fields, house and grove …
Mystified, I’d head down for a swim at the cove.
How little I knew, as I towelled my locks
I was following the trace of a historic fox.
Not till many years afterward would I confront
This famous old ballad, KILLRUDDERY HUNT.
To come to the House I had dispensation
To yarn in the Library, by kind invitation,
And wandering the rooms filled with Victoriana
Discovered the manuscript, on the piano.
Entranced by its rhythm I there and then vowed
To one day record it, if I were allowed.
By most of the clocks, I too think it cruel
To pursue a wild creature. To kill is not cool.
But the HUNT is a pagan that gallops along,
Pursued by a baying idolatrous throng
Inexorable, merciless, yes – but somehow,
Although an antique, it reminds me of now.
And the land it describes isn’t lost, it survives
In the midst of our twenty-first century lives.
Did you ever have that strange dream where you find
A new door in your house you’ve not once seen behind?
You open, and enter, and wonder just how
You’ve never discovered this place until now…
I find Killruddery’s demesne of this order
A place of enchantment, behind its own border,
Surviving against the most powerful odds
As a place to encounter all sorts of old gods.
This song is a telescope into the past
When nothing but horses and dogs moved so fast
And digital editing hadn’t been thought of,
And foxes were there to be killed and made sport of,
And songs were for singing, again and again
To commemorate places, hounds, horses and men.
(No women, of course. For them to be flecked
With the Hunt’s sweat and blood would show sore disrespect…)
To celebrate skill and allegiance and drive
And the role of the Fates in remaining alive
In a RHYTHM uniting, in music and words
All classes, from ostlers to squires and lords,
Is a feat to appreciate and to admire.
But that RHYTHM! So strong, we are all bound to tire –
So it’s time I was finished, by most of the clocks.
And let’s spare a kind thought for that old Wicklow fox.
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