Whispering Tides, Kate Dowman's debut album of Manx gaelic folksongs is now available across all digital platforms - iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, Deezer and Tidal.
These rarely heard folksongs from the Isle of Man are hauntingly beautiful in original arrangements for Kate's ethereal voice. They will transport you to another world, with hints of Hans Zimmer and Enya type soundscapes and the Lord of the Rings' Magic whilst being real folksongs, hundreds of years old.
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ABOUT THE SONGS
The Sea Invocation - Geay Jeh’n Aer
The women of Peel used to sing this as their husbands sailed out to sea in their fishing boats. The song asks that the fishermen are kept safe and it was collected by Mona Douglas from Mrs Shimmin of Foxdale, when she sheltered from a storm in her house one day. As a song, I love its strength and urgency, especially in contrast to the gentleness of many of the other Manx folksongs.
Son of the Sea – Manannan Beg Mac y Leir
A popular children’s song on the Isle of Man, this song is an invocation to Manannan, the Sea God, asking for his blessing to keep the fishing boats safe at sea. Its repetitive refrain speaks his name over and over again and it becomes almost a meditation. The song was collected by Mona Douglas from Caesar Cashen.
Little Red Bird - Ushag Veg Ruy
This song is well known throughout the Celtic world, and this version was noted by P.W. Caine from Mr James Caine of Douglas, Isle of Man. It tells of a little bird struggling to find a place to sleep; at first it sleeps badly, then on the crest of a wave, on a swaying briar, and finally it finds a place to sleep well; safe between two leaves, as a baby sleeps upon its mother’s knee. As a part-time insomniac, I know how he feels!
The Parting Hour- Arrane Oie Vie
Also known as ‘The Goodnight Song’ (Oie Vie translates as goodnight in Manx Gaelic), this well known Manx song remains an old favourite to mark the end of an evening. With its long lazy lines and simple form, it is often sung unaccompanied and it remains a lovely memory from my childhood. Collected from Mr E. Corteen, Surveyor of roads, and Mr T. Taggart.
A Sea Vision - Aislin Ny Cheayn
The piece is unusual in structure - it feels like the music is there to paint the words; describing the sea under the moonlight, a vision of a ship, an otherworldly voice calling to the Island. It has a dream-like quality within, and conveys the pulse of the sea.
Song of the Travellers - Irree Seose
A song to wake up the travelling farm hands, the words of this traditional Manx song were written by Mona Douglas, and set to a melody collected by Dr John Clague from Richard Qualtrough of Rushen. This is one of my personal favourites on the album. I wasn’t aware of the song when I was growing up, but I found a recording of it played on the Celtic harp, and since then it has stayed in my head and my heart for a long time.
Slumber Song - Arrane Saveenagh
One of the most hauntingly beautiful lullabies I have ever known. Again, this was collected by Mona Douglas from Mrs Shimmin of Foxdale, who seems to have been a rather rich source of material. This song has similar lyrics to the traditional ‘rock-a-bye-baby’ - how far folk songs have travelled and morphed into other things!
A Ship Sailing - She Lhong Honnick Mee
A girl sings about her boy who is off on a boat at sea; she longs to be on that boat with him. This is sometimes played as an instrumental and performed at a livelier pace, but I really enjoyed finding some space and drawing out its beautiful tune.. Collected by Dr Clague, from Tom Kermode of Bradda, with words by Caesar Cashen, this song has so many emotions within it; hope, love, and want.
The Fairy Washing Song- Arrane Ny Niee
Collected in 1921 by Mona Douglas from James Kelly, this song was traditionally sung by mothers to their babies. It was said to have been taught to them by the fairies. This was one of the first songs I ever learnt in Manx Gaelic, and it is a children’s favourite with its simple dancelike quality. I love its naivety.
Manannan is the Celtic God of the sea, and he appears in Irish and Scottish folklore, as well as Manx. He is said to have his throne at the top of South Barrule and he will cloak the Island in a thick mist to protect it in times of trouble. Some sources say that the Isle of Man is named after Manannan. This beautifully simple song has long been a favourite of mine. This was another song collected by Mona Douglas from Mrs Shimmin of Foxdale in 1921.
Lullaby of the Virgin Mary - Cadlee Ny Moidyn Moirrey
Written by H.P. Kelly, whose son, Dollin Kelly still resides on the Island, this is a beautiful lullaby, which is a joy to sing. The stillness and reverence of the Virgin Mary singing the Son of God to sleep, with its beautiful long lines and simple accompaniment, creates a rare intimacy.
Love of my Heart – Graih my Chree
I performed this many times in the Manx Music Festival, the Guild Eisteddfod as a child, and to me, it sounds like the hills on the Isle of Man. A rather heart-broken love song, it was first published in the A.W. Moore collection of Manx Ballads and Song in 1896, and it remains one of the most well known Manx folksongs.
The Secret Island – by Marlene Hendy
When recording my album, I wanted everyone working on the album to see how beautiful our Island is. I found a video of the Isle of Man taken from the air, and accompanying it was a beautiful song that I had never heard before. I contacted the composer Marlene Hendy straight from the recording studio and she kindly gave me permission to record it. I love its lyrics and I feel it came into my life like a gift. After recording 12 traditional songs in Manx Gaelic I was delighted to add this, as well as Ellan Vannin, which are both sung in English.
I have performed this song for as long as I can remember. With lyrics written by Eliza Craven Green in 1854 and later set to music by J. Townsend, it is often referred to as the ‘alternative Manx National Anthem’. The last song I recorded on this album, and the one that took me the longest as it kept making me cry! The lyrics are so beautiful and it takes me home every time I sing it.
With love, Kate x