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Just Up The Road …

Posted by JP Ryan on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 Under: The Origin of Songs

Growing up in the South East in the seventies and eighties was a tepid affair in comparison to the heated fury of Northern Ireland. I was neither intellectually or socially privy to the repercussions of what seemed like war. 

My only recollections was the evening news on an old analogue TV. It fed us regular tragedies from bombings and killings to street violence and public riots. This wasn’t  uncommon. It was an ongoing and recurrent narrative, woven into the fabric of our history - always playing itself out in some shape or form in the Ireland of this time. 

Thankfully for me and our Catholic family, it was only news feeds, and it seemed as distant as another country. It wasn’t entertainment however, and as a boy, I was intelligent enough to know that it wasn’t right, but I lacked a mature empathy and reasoning to see that this was my own country and literally not a million miles from where I lived. 

I could explain away my blasé attitude to these tragedies by concluding that we are designed to discard our own shadowy attributes and toss them onto others, but this wouldn’t be an accurate assessment how it was, at this time. There’s a much simpler explanation -  I was merely a boy looking through a window to another world and living in my own one. 

In retrospect, what is merely news to one, is often lifelong suffering and unrivaled tragedy to another. In my hometown, life went on as normal. I went to mass on Sundays, I said prayers at night, we said the Angelus at 6pm each evening before the news and I often said the Rosary, (In between regular bouts of childhood mischief).  And again, this analogue sideshow would beam into our home, and play itself out - another Catholic killed or another Protestant killed, or even another punishment beating,  How a small cluster of counties could develop to become synonymous with words like ‘revenge’ and ‘discrimination’, was beyond me. I lacked the understanding of why this battle weary cause was playing itself out over centuries, drip feeding an anger that seemed to be inherit in the genetic blueprint of those who fought for ‘freedom’ and those who called themselves ‘Irish’. 

As years progressed, the echoes of all of this reverberated in the songs of Irish singers and songwriters that lived in these not too distant moments, in the same manner that it has sustained itself in the Irish literature and songs of bygone eras. In every town and city there is a history that conveys some story of tragedy or triumph over foreign occupations or theocratic influence. There are personal stories that  fly in the face of the staunch archaic protocol that religion often bestowed on us and on community 

Thankfully, I can’t write about any of it as a firsthand experience and I consider myself lucky to have this inability. The best I can do, is convey a story that was never too far removed from reality in an era that was just around the last corner, or in a place that was ‘just up the road’. 

In : The Origin of Songs 

Tags: jp ryan  rivers and the rain  blog  northern ireland  south east  music  songs  catholic  protestant  kilkenny  irish history  freedom  foreign occupation  freedom   
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JP Ryan JP Ryan is an Irish artist in the genre of Folk and Adult Contemporary Music. As an arts graduate with an MA in Art Therapy, he has used music and art in a therapeutic capacity, in many areas of the Health Service, with many years of experience as a registered art therapist. As a recording artist, JP has opened for some major acts and toured his own music, described as evocative, literate and lyrical. In addition to having music published, he has also had poetry published and his other hobbies include reading, writing, and strength and fitness training. In a sporting capacity he is an Irish, European and World Champion Powerlifter.