"it's a great piece and a timely song of reconciliation"
Dr Tim Campbell, Director St Patrick's Centre
Belfast based songwriter Colin Magee has toured Ireland, United States and Canada playing folk and American music. Many of his songs are about people and places and they're great story songs, often telling of his travels. In recent years he has teamed up with Charlie Pettigrew and 'Raise a Glass to St Patrick' is their first co-written song to be released in the UK/Ireland and North America. Currently working as the Director of the Belfast Nashville Songwriters' Festival, Colin spends his time showcasing other songwriters and promoting his own music.
Celebrating St Patrick's Day on the 17th March is now a global event. All over the world, people take to the streets wearing shamrock, marching and making music in the name of the fifth century Irish saint. But who was St Patrick and why is he as well known today as Santa Clause?
Well not much is known or agreed about him. We do have his "Confession", written in old age - a brief, autobiographical reflection on his life which touches on his family, his six years spent as a slave on Slemish mountain, his escape back to Britain and then his decision to return to convert the Irish to Christianity. And, of course, we have the myths and legends that have grown up around him - banishing the snakes from Ireland, his titanic struggles with the pagan Druids and most emblematic of all, the shamrock, used to explain the Holy Trinity.
When it came to celebrating him in song, Colin and Charlie wanted to reflect the man he was and the mythical figure he has become - both his restless, tenacious free spirit and the icon of unity:
On the hills of Slemish
A slave became a man
Your spirit was unbroken
By the chieftain or by clan
And later in the song:
For him we wear the shamrock
In peace and harmony
In Belfast, Sydney or New York
Wherever we may be
St Patrick embodies something of the Irish people themselves who, by force of historical circumstances, have spread throughout the world and brought with them that tenacity, that undying affection for their green land and that love of the craic, dance and song.
© CJ Magee & C Pettigrew