There’s a lot of music in Mending Horses. I thought readers might enjoy listening to some of the songs mentioned in the book.
Near the beginning of the book, Billy sings a lullaby to Daniel after Mr. Stocking rescues him. Although the song isn’t named in the book, I imagine that it is “Táimse im Chodladh” (“I Am Sleeping, Do Not Wake Me”). Ciara Walton sings a lovely version on YouTube.
I’ve heard several versions of “Deirdre’s Lament,” the song that Hugh hears Billy singing at the circus. Some are set to new music rather than the traditional tune. I found two versions on YouTube; I’m not sure whether they are traditional versions, or are modern adaptations, but they’re still beautiful. There’s one by Trio Nocturna and one by Heather Alexander .
I couldn’t find a recording of “The Last Link is Broken” (the song that Augusta taught to Billy, and that Liam hears Augusta singing) on the Internet, but you can find the lyrics online here.
Edward Bunting’s 1840 Ancient Music of Ireland is a great resource if you’re looking for more traditional Irish tunes.
Mr. Stocking plays several songs on his fiddle. At the barn dance, he plays “Oft in the Stilly Night.” During the circus, he plays “Flowers of Edinburgh” and “The White Cockade” to accompany the dancing ponies’ routine. Later in the story, he plays “The Minstrel Boy” and “Soldier’s Joy.”
- Here’s one of my favorite versions of “Oft in the Stilly Night” by a band called Celtic Thunder (no, not the same as the pop-Irish band that’s popular today).
- Thomas Moore was the Irish author of “Oft in the Stilly Night” and many other sentimental ballads of the 19th century. You can find some of his music online here.
- There are three lovely versions of “The Minstrel Boy” available on YouTube:
The Corrs perform a version with fiddle and orchestra
Semyon and Daniel Kobialka perform a haunting version with cello, fiddle, and percussion
And here is a simple, but lovely solo fiddle version
- Here, Grayson Ross plays a lively version of “Soldier’s Joy”
- Here’s a version of “Flowers of Edinburgh” played by Duncan Ross Cameron.
- You’ll have to excuse the background noise in this YouTube video, but Tartanius Flynn and the Survivors play a lively rendition of “Flowers of Edinburgh” and “The White Cockade” (For more from Tartanius Flynn and the Survivors (without background noise!), check out their YouTube channel)
To find popular songs from the 1830s, go to the Library of Congress’s “Music for the Nation” website, where you’ll find sheet music for hundreds of songs and a list of greatest hits organized by date.
If you’re looking for more music from 19th-century New England, I encourage you to check out these two collections recorded by the musicians of Old Sturbridge Village:
Village Green – Music of Old Sturbridge Village
A 19th Century Music Sampler Featuring the Musicians of Old Sturbridge Village
Although Heidi Talbot’s “Start it All Over Again” is not a 19th-century song, the lyrics makes me think of Liam and Augusta, so I’m including a link to it here.
While writing the book, I listened to a lot of music by Celtic artists and American folk musicians to inspire me. Here are some of the musicians on my playlist:
- Aine Minogue and Druidstone
The Battlefield Band (okay, a Scottish rather than an Irish band, but they do some Irish songs, too!)
The Bothy Band
Cherish the Ladies
The Henry Girls
Carol Thompson, Celtic harpist
Jay Ungar and Molly Mason
Zoe Darrow and the Fiddleheads