Heather Dale is a canadian folk singer. Rooted on celtic tradition, her music is always looking for new influences and cultures. On her 2005 album, Santiago, Heather gives us a new version for The Black Fox, a 1975 song from the folk british composers Eileen and Graham Pratt

A chased fox, with burning eyes…
Ride on, Huntsman!


Animation by Anne Szabla

As we were out a hunting one morning in the spring
Both hounds and horses, running well, made the hills and the valleys ring
But to our great misfortune, no fox there could be found
Our huntsmen cursed and swore but still no fox moved over the ground
So up spoke our Master Huntsman, the master of our chase
“If only the Devil himself ran by, we’d run him such a race!”
And up there sprung like lightning, a fox from out of his hole
But his fur was the colour of a starless night and his eyes like burning coal
So they chased him over the valley and they chased him over the field
And they chased him down to the riverbank, but never would he yield
And he’s jumped into the water, and he’s swum to the other side
And he’s laughed so loud that the green woods shook
He’s turned to the huntsmen and he’s cried:
“Ride on, my gallant Huntsman… when must I come again?
For you should never want for a fox to chase all over the glen
When your need is greatest, just call upon my name
And I will come and you shall have the best of sport and game.”
Well, the men looked up in wonder and the hounds ran back to hide
For the fox it changed to the Devil himself, where he stood on the other side
And the men, the hounds, the horses, they went flying back to town
But hard on their heels went that little black fox, laughing as he ran:
“Ride on, my gallant Huntsman… when must I come again?
For you should never want for a fox to chase all over the glen
When your need is greatest, just call upon my name
And I will come and you shall have the best of sport and game.”

I am a young maiden, my story is sad
For once I was carefree and in love with a lad
He courted me sweetly by night and by day
But now he has left me and gone far away

Oh if I was a blackbird, could whistle and sing
I’d follow the vessel my true love sails in
And in the top rigging I would there build my nest
And I’d flutter my wings o’er his broad golden chest

He sailed o’er the ocean, his fortune to seek
I missed his caresses and his kiss on my cheek
He returned and I told him my love was still warm
He turned away lightly and great was his scorn

He offered to marry and to stay by my side
But then in the morning he sailed with the tide

The iconography of early celts presents a collection of elements common to all ancient cultures: spirals, circles, crosses and variations on the swastika. With the advent of Christianity to celtic lands the design became more complex, and a kind of interlacing was developed. Known as the Celtic Knotwork, this pattern has a resemblance of baskets interweaving, and follow simple rules: the “up” and “down” path, the constant width and the pointed corner on turns.

The Gospels of Lindisfarne, written in circa 698 a.D. in the region of Northumbria, southern Scotland, are considered a landmark in the development of the celtic knotwork design. The patterns have animals as finials, drawn with intricacy and exceptional beauty.

In despite of all possible interpretations, there is no special meaning on celtic knotwork. It’s just recognized as a beautiful way to fill borders and empty spaces.

Today the celtic knotwork art is very popular and a symbol of national identity.

Image: http://our-ireland.com/
Make Celtic Knotwork
The Lindisfarne Gospels

Galicia is an autonomous region located at the northwestern Spain. Its language, the galician, is closed to portuguese. Galicia is one of the seven celtic nations, with Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man and Brittany.

In the streets of Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia, it’s very common to find musicians with folk instruments. Like this couple, who plays celtic music with bagpipe, castanets and percussion.

A hint from the blog The Celtic Music Fan.

(Image: Basilica de Santiago – Wikipedia Commons)

In 1688, James Stuart II, catholic and king of England, Scotland and Ireland, and his Queen Mary had a son. Until then the throne will be granted to their daughter Mary, protestant and married with William, from the House of Orange. But now everything has changed: there was a possibility of creating a catholic dynasty in England.

But the protestants reacted. William mobilized the dutch troops, invaded England and started the Glorious Revolution. The Stuarts left the country, and William and Mary were assigned as rulers. James, from his exile in the catholic portion of Ireland, organized an army (whose members were called Jacobites, or the restorers of “Jacobus”, the latin form of James) and started a revolt to what he sees as a coup d’etat in his country. Once again defeated by troops ruled by William himself, James has fled to France for all. After leaving their irish troops, James was called in that country as Séamus an Chaca, or “James the be-shitten”…

Siúil A Rúin is one of the most traditional songs of Ireland, and is related to the Jacobites who fight the Glorious Revolution. Its refrain was composed in gaelic, an irish celtic language:

    Siúil, siúil, siúil a rúin (Shule, shule, shule aroon,)

    Siúil go socair agus siúil go ciúin (Shule go succir agus, shule go kewn,)

    Siúil go doras agus ealaigh liom (Shule go dheen durrus oggus aylig lume,)

    Is go dtéann tú mo mhuirnín slán (Iss guh day thoo avorneen slawn.)

In a free english translation,

    Come, come, come, O love,

    Quickly come to me, softly move;

    Come to the door, and away we’ll flee,

    And safe for aye may my darling be!

On video, a contemporaneous version from Cécile Corbel to Siúil A Rúin:

I wish I were on yonder hill
and there I’d sit and I’d cry my fill
and ev’ry tear would turn a mill,
and a blessing walk with you, my love

I’ll sell my rod, I’ll sell my reel
I’ll sell my only spinning wheel
To buy my love a sword of steel
And a blessing walk with you, my love

Siuil, siuil, a ruin
Siuil go sochair agus siuil go ciuin
Siuil go doras agus ealaigh liom
Is go dte tu mo mhuirnin slan

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
I wish I had my heart again,
And vainly think I’d not complain
And a blessing walk with you, my love

But now my love has gone to France
To try his fortune to advance.
If he e’er comes back, it’s but a chance
And a blessing walk with you, my love

Image: King James Stuart II; Wikipedia Commons

Lyrics translation: http://www.extrasolar.net/CLANNAD/song.asp?SongId=131

Mary Read was born circa 1690, as a daughter of a capitain’s widow. Created as a boy, early in her teenage joined a Foot Regiment, fighting with bravery. Later she joined a Cavalry Regiment, when fell in love with a belgian soldier. Unfortunately the soldier died in battle, and Mary, with her masculine clothes, faced the seas.

In a travel to West Indies, Mary ship was captured by a pirate vessel, The Revenge, ruled by the corsair “Calico Jack” Rackham. But, as a fate, this ship brought also the english pirate Anne Bonny, who promptly desired that new handsome sailor. Brought him to her room, but for her surprise, Mary opened the blouse and showed her hidden femininity. Mary confessed Bonny she would rather be a desventured pirate than face the tedious reality of woman’s life, and joined them.

By 1720s Mary fell in love again, this time with a young corsair. But he got into a quarrel with an older fellow, and under the seas rules, he was called to a duel. Mary realized that her lover would have no chance, and created her own quarrel with the old corsair, challenged for a duel immediately.

Mary was very skillful with the sword, but her opponent was in advantage. But in a sudden Mary opened her blouse. The corsair was distracted with the vison of Mary’s breasts, and she hit him with a fatal attack. So, Mary and her young and safe lover got married soon.

But their honeymoon was short. Mary, Bonny and Calico Jack were arrested and brought to Jamaica. After the trial, they were sentenced to hanging. Even in court Mary Read kept her corsair dignity. Asked in the courtroom what would bring a young woman to pirate’s life, she answered:

– That as to hanging, it is no great hardship, for were it not for that, every cowardly fellow would turn pirate and so unfit the Seas, that men of courage must starve.

(image: Wikimedia Commons;
information: http://blindkat.hegewisch.net/pirates/whosmary.html )

On video, brittany singer Cécile Corbel plays Mary.

Cécile Corbel, born in Brittany in 1980, is an harpist, composer, arranger and singer of celtic folkloric songs.

On video, Cécile plays Sweet Song, from the album Song Book vol. 2.

“This album is the fruit of many years spent on the roads with my harp. On stage or in a studio, Breton legends, Irish fairies, Scottish fogs, they all were my fellow travelers and a boundless source of inspiration…”


The international recognition of brothers’ Andrea, Sharon, Caroline and Jim Corr talent came after their presentation on Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Born in Dundalk, Ireland, the basis of The Corrs‘ music is the celtic folk. Their harmonious sound and the research with folkloric instruments brought them public and critic recognition, mostly in Europe.

On video, an acoustic MTV show, The Corrs play Lough Erin Shore.

March 17th. is the National Day of Ireland, the St. Patrick’s Day.

Born in Scotland in 387 a.D., Patrick was captured as a slave and taken to Ireland, still a pagan and celtic nation. He worked as a sheepherd, before he could escape and return back to Scotland. There Patrick joined the Catholic Church, and after his nomination as a bishop, came back to Ireland for christian work. So Saint Patrick would represent the overcome of Catholic Church on celtic paganism.

From XVII Century, March 17th entered into the christian liturgy calendar, and became an irish national date. The green and the 3-leaf shamrock, representing the Holy Trinity, became their symbols.

Today, St. Patrick’s Day is a secular party, and it’s celebrated in several places of the world where we can find irish communities, like USA, Canada and even Argentina.

Song by Loreena McKennitt about the Mummers Play, a street performance which is traced back to the Middle Ages.