Spirit of an Irish Christmas

Róisin Dempsey


  1. When A Child is Born
  2. Hodie Christus / God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  3. Dun Oiche Ud i mBeithil
  4. Good King Wenceslas
  5. Nella Fantasia
  6. The Sans Day Carol (The Holly Bears a Berry)
  7. Ave Maria
  8. What Child is This?
  9. Deck The Halls / Utterns Polska
  10. O Holy Night
  11. The Wexford Carol

Sleeve Notes


Róisin Dempsey (lead vocal)
Nicky Baily (Drums & Percussion)
David Hayes (Keyboards, Backing Vocal)
Declan Masterson (Uilleann Pipes, Whistles, Low Whistle, Bouzouki)

Nigel Davey (Box Accordion)
Colm O'Tiarnaigh (violin, Viola)
John McLoughlin (Classical and String Guitars)

Produced by David Hayes
Recorded, mixed and mastered at The Cauldron Studios, Dublin by Ciaran Byrne

Design and photography by Paul Carter
Programme notes by John Paul Sheridan

Thanks to:

A huge thank you to a fantastic band, for your input, your amazing playing and the craic.

To Marie & Colm, Méav & Tom, Jacqui, Fr. JohnPaul, Fr. John Sweetman, JJ Stephen & Penny, Rob & Kendall, Shelia, Brian and Bernie for their wise words.

To Mammy and Daddy, Susan, Margaret, Pat and Seamus for the years of love and listening

To my husband Nicky, who made me believe.

Track Notes

1. When A Child is Born (dedicated to Kyle)
This song, written by Zacar / Jay was made famous by Jonny Mathis, in 1976 it spent twelve weeks in the charts and three weeks at number one. It was recorded by Boney-M in 1980 and has remained a favourite ever since.

2. Hodie Christmas / God rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
"Today Christ is Born; today the saviour has approached, today the angels sing on earth, the archangels rejoice, today good people exult, saying Glory to God in the highest. Alleluia!" followed by a hynoptic arrangement of this traditional English melody.

3. Dun Oiche Ud i mBeithil
Trad. Irish, adapted by Sean Óg O'Tuama.
"I sing of a night in Bethlehem, a night as bright as dawn
I sing of that night in Bethlehem, the night the Word was born.
Glory now to the Father, in all the heavens high
and peace to his friends on earth below, is all the angels cry"

4. Good King Wenceslas / Christmas Eve
John Mason Neale set this text, vaguely based on the life of the Duke of Bohemia in the 900's, called Wenceslas, to a 14th Century tune. The addition of the reel, Christmas Eve on uilleann pipes, adds a new twist to the story.

5. Nella Fantasia
This beautiful tune is very well known from Ennio Morrione's "The Mission". The lyrics, added by Chiara Ferrau at a later date are similar in sentiment to John Lennon's "Imagine".

6. The Sans Day Carol (The Holly Bears a Berry)
This traditional carol from the village of St. Day, in Cornwall. It is better known by its more popular name, 'The Holly Bears a Berry'

7. Ave Maria
Caccini was an Italian composer in the 1500's. This setting of the Ave Maria was recently brought back into popular realm by Andrea Bocelli.

8. What Child is This?
This melody, "Greensleeves", is traditionally thought to be composed by Henry VIII, as a tribute to Anne Boleyn. The accompanying lyrics were written by William Chatterlon Dix in the 1890's.

9. Deck The Halls / Utterns Polska
Deck the halls is a traditional Welsh Carol, with a game attached, to be played on New Year's Eve. The addition of the Swedish Utterns Polska adds to the festive sound.

10. O Holy Night
This carol is said to be the first music ever broadcast on radio. The text was originally written in French by Placide Clappeax and the melody by Adolphe Adams.

11. The Wexford Carol
The Wexford Carol is associated with William Grattan Ford (1859 - 1928), who was organist and musical director at St. Aidian's Cathedral in Enniscorthy. He transcribed the carol from a local singer, and had it published in the Oxford book of carols, putting Enniscorthy into most carol books around the world.

All arrangements by David Hayes except (9) arr. Kalle Moraeus/Bengan Jasson and (10) arr. Robbie Kondor