The Voice Squad


  1. The Coventry Carol
  2. The Cocks are Crowing
  3. The Sheepstealers
  4. A Stor Mo Chroí
  5. Jimmy Murphy
  6. I am Stretched on your Grave
  7. Good People All (Wexford Carol)
  8. The Brown and The Yellow Ale
  9. Sarah Jane
  10. Down in Yon Forest
  11. A Fond Kiss
  12. Annan Waters
  13. The Parting Glass

Sleeve Notes

These recordings were made using three vintage Neumann valve (tube) microphones. One of the microphones, a U47 dating from the 1940's the serial number 1000. Coincidentally the church was also 1000 years old. These are real performances which have not been edited or doctored in anyway. On this CD we have included two "bonus" tracks from the finale of the concert in the church. These tracks originally appeared on "Many's The Foolish Youth".

We would especially like to thank: Eric and Linda Greaves, John Butler, Reverend R. Stokes, Frank Edgeworth, Jim and Carmel Tutty, Senan Bonfield, Mairéad O'Reilly, Deirdre and Val, Frank Harte, Mary Cadden for the catering, and Helen Smith for the photographs of Phil, Gerry and Fran.

Produced by - Dan Dan Fitzgerald
Mastered by - Mary Kettle at Trend Studios
Sleeve design by - Édain ODonnell

Track 6 "I am Stretched on your Grave" (Trad Arr, King; lyric translated by Michael O'Donovan) EMI Virgin Music Ltd. / Mulligan Music / MCPS
All other tracks are Traditional, Arranged by Phil Callery, Fran McPhail, Gerry Cullen, Dan Fitzgerald.

Many's The Foolish Youth, first issued in 1987, was the first record by Fran, Gerry and Phil. Later they became known as The Voice Squad. Their style of singing in harmony does not form part of the Irish singing tradition, but each of the singers had already served his time in our individual tradition before coming together to sing in harmony. I feel that they have carried this individual approach to the song with them into the group. It is this that gives them their unique sound. The Voice Squad has been compared to those great English family groups, "The Watersons" and "The Cooper Family" and while they enjoy the singing of both of these groups their strongest influences have come directly from our own traditional songs and the styles of our individual singers. It is the union of the distinct tenor voices of Fran and Phil and the bass drone of Gerry, along with their own particular arrangements of good songs, that has made them one of the most distinctive unaccompanied singing groups today.
Frank Harte

We Sang in St. Kevin's Church during the "Music Under the Mountains" festival in 1991. The natural stone quality was the best we have ever found so we came back to record this album. Most of these recordings were made in the Church, some during a concert. Other tracks were recorded in John Butler's house. St. Kevin's Church is the oldest Christian Church in Leinster which is still in use. It was built on the site of a hermit's cell, inhabited by St. Kevin before he went to Glendalough. The building is approximately 1000 years old and is now the Hollywood Heritage Centre. Hollywood is a village situated on the western approach to the Wicklow Mountains.
Phil, Fran and Gerry

Track Notes

1) Coventry Carol
This Song originally formed part of a 16th century Coventry nativity play and was given to The Voice Squad by our late friend Séamus O Rachallaigh.

2) The Cocks are Crowing
This is one of the many 'night visiting' songs that appear in the traditional songs of so many countries. I think it is the best song that Eddie Butcher ever sang for me.

3) The Sheepstealers
My friend, Vic Legg from Cornwall, said that this song was very popular and widely sung among the travelling people of that region. It could date from the time of the "Land Enclosures" around 1805.

4) A Stor MO Chroí
This song of emigration, which has achieved great popularity in recent years, was written by Brian O Higgins. The Voice Squad learned it from the singing of Sarah and Rita Keane.

5) Timmy Murphy
When I first heard this song, sung by Sean Óg O'Thuama many years ago, it had only three verses and that most peculiar chorus. A friend of mine, Luke Cheevers, in true traditional fashion wrote several verses, which I believe enhance the song, and expand the story.

6) I am Stretched on your Grave
The words of this song are a translation of an anonymous poem in Irish called "Táim Sinte Ar Do Thuama". The singer Philip King, put this air to the poem, which I believe brings out so clearly the sadness and loneliness expressed by the poet.

7) Good People All (Wexford Carol)
Otherwise known as the "Enniscorthy Christmas Carol", this is one of the most beautiful carols sung in Wexford, and is included in a collection, "The Wexford Carols", edited by Diarmuid O'Muirthe

8) The Brown and Yellow Ale
The first person I heard singing this song was the late Dominic Behan. Dominic claimed that it was a free translation by the poet James Stephens, from a song in Irish called "Chuacha Lán De Buí". This song was a particular favourite of James Joyce.

9) Sarah Tane
This is one of many songs that I got from Eddie Butcher, that great singer, who lived in Magilligan, Co. Derry. What attracted me so much about the song was the strange meter as well as the inclusion of obscure references such as "the sun passed o'er the meridian" and "the land-rail out from her grassy bed", the landrail of course, being another name for the Corncrake.

10) Down in Yon Forest
This English religious song is said to have its origin somewhere back in the sixteenth century. We have sung this for many years at our Christmas Carol sessions in Dublin.

11) A Fond Kiss
This poem of Robert Burns was in a collection given to me by an old schoolteacher in Chapelizod. The air is given as "Rory Dall's Port".

Frank Harte - Chapelizod 1992