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’The Ballad of the Crimson Warrior’ features Mike Hanrahan with Sive; as well as Seána Davey on harp, Norah Constance Walsh on piano and Aldoc on whistles and percussion.

Mike honours cultural revolutionaries

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A MUSICAL tribute to Ireland’s cultural revolutionaries has been released by Ennis born singer-songwriter Mike Hanrahan.

Following the critical acclaim for his short film ‘The Ballad of the Crimson Warrior’, Mike has renewed his collaboration with songwriter and musician, Sive, to release the title song. Like the film, the song is a homage to the leading figures of the cultural revolution between 1890 and 1922. It pays tribute to rebels, innovators, writers and fighters who worked to reawaken Ireland’s spirit in the crucial period leading to the securing of Irish Independence. 

I had the song written for the film, but I felt it needed another voice,” Mike explained. “In this song The Crimson Warrior is reawakened from 100 years of sleep to reconnect with a new Ireland. He is the voice of the Irish Cultural Revolution. I called my friend Sive and we spoke about the song. We share a mutual respect for this era of Irish history. Her reply to the Crimson warrior is exquisite. I think the song spans the century beautifully.”

A Kildare native Sive, was awarded funding under the Brigid 1500 initiative 2023, and is currently working on the composition of a song cycle exploring the folklore of the goddess and saint. Described as one of the most exciting artists of our time for her haunting, multi-layered vocals, she said she was inspired by the female experience of the cultural revolution. I was delighted when Mike asked me to collaborate with him on the Crimson Warrior,” she said. “It was an opportunity to embody not only the feminine voice of Ireland, which was a huge part of this story, but more generally the voice of the new Ireland that has grown in the years since the Cultural Revolution. For me, that meant an Ireland with the potential to transform its trauma into empathy and embrace everyone who calls it home.”

‘The Ballad of the Crimson Warrior’ also features Seána Davey on harp, Norah Constance Walsh on piano and Aldoc on whistles and percussion. It was recorded by Aldoc at Aras Chronáin and supported by Culture Ireland.

The 30-minute film was created and exhibited as part of the Clare Decade of Centenaries programme for Clare County Council History Week funded by under the Community Strand of the government’s Decade of Centenaries programme. It was illustrated with portraits of the revolutionary years by acclaimed Clare native artist Mick ODea. “Ten years ago, I began a  journey exploring the songs of the Irish Cultural Revolution which spanned  a 30-year period from 1890 to the beginning of the Civil War in 1921,” Mike said. “It was initially driven by a creative artistic community who began searching for their own lost cultural identity.  They were both rebel and innovator, writer and fighter who challenged a nation to reawaken its own spirit. This often turbulent yet extremely innovative period of Irish history is a fascinating study on the rebirth of a culture after centuries in chains. My film was inspired by songwriters, collectors, courageous men and women and so many important and decisive events.”

Mike previously contributed to the Decade of Centenaries programme with his Clare: Songs of Independence project. He has been a central figure in Irish music industry for over four decades as writer and musician, with the ground breaking contemporary Irish music band Stocktons Wing. As well as performing currently with Stocktons Wing, Eleanor Shanley and Leslie Dowdall, Mike is studying as part of a Fellowship on brain health and equity at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) with The Global Brain Health Institute, and working on a book of short stories on dementia and brain health.

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