May We Never Have To Say Goodbye

Composed Shaun Davey


  1. The Battle of Cul Dremne
  2. Music of the Spheres
  3. Pilgrim's Sunrise
  4. Fill To Me The Parting Glass
  5. The Irish Sea
  6. Two Galician Dances
  7. Dia Do Bheathasa
  8. The President's Welcome
  9. The Arrival of the Flag
  10. May We Never Have To Say Goodbye
  11. The Arrival of the Flame
  12. The Lighting of the Flame and Fireworks
  13. Farewell to Nantes
  14. Pilgrim's Finale

Sleeve Notes

In 2003 Shaun Davey [‘The Brendan Voyage’, ‘Waking Ned Devine’] composed music for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Summer Games at Croke Park, Dublin. In collaboration with Noel Eccles [percussionist with Moving Hearts,‘Riverdance etc.,]’ Davey created music on a scale and emotional intensity to match the occasion. It featured some of Ireland’s outstanding traditional musicians, singers and pipers with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and no less than six Dublin choirs. It is presented here with other of Davey’s spectacular works, full of soaring melodies, exquisite singing and piping, in celebration of life, its welcomes and farewells. Performed by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Brophy, led by Alan Smale and Elaine Clark. Soloists include: Liam O’Flynn [uilleann pipes], Rita Connolly [vocals], Noel Eccles [Percussion], Seamus Begley and Breanndan Begley [button accordions and vocals], The Voice Squad, Nollaig Casey, [fiddle] Edelmiro Fernandez [gaita], pipers led by Pipe major Terry Tully and Dave Rickard with members of six Dublin choirs including the Guinness Choir, Tallaght Choral Society and the Culwick Choir.


In 2003 Shaun Davey composed music for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin. The event was staged in Croke Park, the biggest Gaelic Games stadium in Ireland, before an audience of 80,000 people. With guest appearances by Nelson Mandela and Muhammed Ali and performers including U2, the event was televised by RTÉ and became the focus of enormous national commitment and pride. Working in collaboration with percussionist Noel Eccles, Shaun Davey created music on a scale and emotional intensity to match the occasion. It featured some of Ireland’s most outstanding traditional musicians, singers, pipers, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, and no less than six Dublin choirs. Although this music was recorded at that time and the anthem,‘May we never have to say Goodbye’, topped the Irish charts for 6 weeks, this is the first time all the specially composed music has been included on one CD. It has been made possible by a special collaboration between the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Tara Records and the artists themselves. It is accompanied by specially recorded excerpts from Shaun Davey’s large-scale concert works, including the revised [2000] ‘Pilgrim’ suite and music adaptapted from his theatre and film scores, unavailable until now and all of which celebrate life, its welcomes and farewells.


1. THE BATTLE OF CUL DREMNE; I composed this in 2000 as the new opening to ‘The Pilgrim’.The title refers to the battle thought to have been provoked by Colm Cille, a possible cause of his pilgrimage to Scotland, and hence an appropriate beginning for a musical depiction of the wanderings of an early medieval saint. Not an easy piece for the pipers who are literally involved here in a musical confrontation with the orchestra, in partnership with Noel Eccles who plays military-style 'rope' and lambeg drums. This is one of several pieces specially composed for a revised version of ‘The Pilgrim’, first performed at Blanchardstown Shopping Centre in 2000, and inspired by Sean O’Beachain, principal of Coolmine Secondary School.

2. MUSIC OF THE SPHERES; composed in 2002 for Adrian Noble’s RSC production of ‘Pericles’ at the Roundhouse, London, and re-arranged in 2006 for full orchestra. It features handbells, originally rung by the cast, dispersed around and behind the audience. The music accompanies a vision of the goddess Diana who presides over the miraculous reuniting of Pericles with his family, a music audible only to Pericles and which he describes, in Shakespeare’s phrase, as ‘The music of the spheres’. Special thanks to Hong Soon Har for the loan of the set of bells, played with aplomb by Noel.

3. PILGRIM’S SUNRISE; composed in 2000 for inclusion in ‘The Pilgrim’, featuring Galician Gaita and Uilleann pipes in C, and inspired by an unforgettable day’s recording on Liam O’Flynn’s ‘The Given Note’ album in company with members of the Galician group, Milladoro. The title refers to the Galician ‘Alborada’, a form of music designed as a greeting to the sun, traditionally performed by pipers at sunrise on Fiesta days as they walk around the town. In this performance this sense of movement is provided be Edelmiro’s approach to the microphone from a distance.

4. FILL TO ME THE PARTING GLASS; a song of farewell composed for the closing scenes of the film ‘Waking Ned Devine’, specially rearranged for the opening of The Helix Concert Hall, Dublin, 2002, and on this recording sung by Seamus Begley. Rita and I are on harmonies, with Liam’s pipes and Nollaig Casey’s fiddle in close attendance. The words are based on the traditional song of farewell ‘The Parting Glass’ [most famously performed by The Voice Squad], newly set to an original air. Both the orchestral harp [Andrea Malirsch] and Triona Marshall’s smaller Irish Harp can be heard on this recording.

5. THE IRISH SEA; another addition to the Pilgrim suite, an air for Liam’s sweet sounding uilleann pipes in Bb, Triona on Irish harp, Cor Anglais played by Debbie Clifford and strings, accompanied by the composer on harmonium. As a boy living on the Belfast Lough I witnessed a vast array of shipping which, daily, linked that part of Ireland with Scotland, the Isle of Man, and the English ports of Heysham and Liverpool. Though this traffic has waned the title is a reference to the Irish Sea as a traditional means of connection between the Celtic peoples.

6. TWO GALICIAN DANCES; added to ‘The Pilgrim’ in 2000, featuring Galician Gaita, traditional Irish fiddle, bagpipers, harp, percussion and orchestra. The first tune is led by Gaita in C, followed by a bridge with pipeband which allows Edelmiro time to change instrument to Gaita in Bb for the second . This may be one of the more effective vindications of the concept for bringing bagpipes of different types together with a symphony orchestra; it is certainly one of the loudest. Underpinned by Noel’s big drum percussion, it is always exciting in concert, especially where the pipeband join for the final time.

SUITE from THE 2003 SPECIAL OLYMPICS WORLD SUMMER GAMES The following pieces were specially composed for the Opening Ceremony in Croke Park, Dublin on June 23 2003.

7. DIA DO BHEATHASA; on visits to Kerry one hears the phrase ‘Dia do bheasatha bhaile’, often used to acknowledge safe arrival after a long journey. It seemed the perfect greeting for the 7000 athletes as they arrived in Croke Park, after journeys from all parts of the World, and forms the basis for this overture. After the orchestral fanfare, the lyric is stated by an onstage chorus [including Kerry singers - Seamus and Breanndan Begley and The Voice Squad ], strongly followed by the entry of the pipeband; the words of welcome are then distributed among the choir. Irish traditional soloists follow in succession; Nollaig, Triona, Liam on flat set, with the distinctive Kerry button accordion style of Seamus and Breanndan. The piece concludes with the return of the pipers and orchestral fanfare, combined with chorus and all instumentalists.

8. THE PRESIDENTS WELCOME; button accordions, uilleann pipes, whistle, fiddle, choir and orchestra. This was used to accompany the President of Ireland, Mary MacAleese, as she walked among the 7000 Special Olympics World Games athletes, to greet them as they arrived on the pitch in the centre of Croke Park. A memorable moment of grace and warmth.

9. THE ARRIVAL OF THE FLAG; massed percussion and orchestra.This unique percussion score was composed by Noel Eccles to choreograph the parade of the Special Olympics flag around the arena. In Croke Park the score was performed by an assembly of 100 percussionists. A series of sections depict different percussion traditions of the World; Irish, Arabic, Latin American, Japanese and African; [all] performed here by Noel and, at the end, joined by the rest of the orchestra in a long fanfare, building to a climax designed to coincide with the raising of the flag on stage.

10. MAY WE NEVER HAVE TO SAY GOODBYE; a song specially composed for the beautiful and unique singing of my wife, Rita, and designed to mark the gathering of 7000 Special Olympics athletes and 80,000 spectators in Croke Park. At its heart this song attempts to salute the bravery and commitment of the athletes, and their families. In addition to the dedication of the Special Olympics movement, the athletes received tremendous organisational support from people all over all over Ireland, and the event was the focus of huge public warmth and goodwill, as evidenced by the voluntary participation in this song by six Dublin choirs.

11. THE ARRIVAL OF THE FLAME; The Olympic torch was carried into Croke Park by a team of runners from the Garda Siochana and escorted by Gardai and Police Service of Northern Ireland personel on motorbike. It was to be handed by them to a relay of Special Olympics athletes who would run a circuit of the arena. In the event the Garda runners overshot their mark, and the unfortunate Greek athlete who was standing first in line watched in dismay as the torch swept by.Thanks to the presence of mind of his escort they were halted and the torch handed over.This music, led by the uilleann pipes and orchestra and joined by all the traditional soloists, accompanied the torch’s triumphant circuit of the arena and its progress up onto the stage to the cheers of all in Croke Park .

12. THE LIGHTING OF THE FLAME AND FIREWORKS; the Opening Ceremony concluded with the lighting of a giant onstage torch and a fireworks display. The first is musically represented by the crescendo at the start of this music; the second, loosely, by what follows. A driving 12/8 rhythm propels a robust tune played by the orchetra, pipeband and soloists, the same rhythm continuing under the return of the choirs with the ‘Presidents Welcome’ theme. A massive, sustained ending concludes the Suite for the Opening Ceremony of the 2003 Special Olympics World Games.

13. FAREWELL TO NANTES; the words to this song were composed in 2000 in Breton by Gilles Servat, at the time of his role as narrator in ‘The Pilgrim’; it was first performed by him at that year’s Lorient Interceltic Festival. For this recording Rita takes the lead and I have added choir to the chorus. The melody of the verse derives from ‘The Irish Sea’. The farewell in this case refers to the narrator’s persona as medieval saint who here embarks for Galicia. That year the Pilgrim soloists themselves had a taste of the sea, sailing from Arisaig to the Isle of Skye for a performance at Sabhal Mor Ostaig.

14. PILGRIM'S FINALE; this melody was first composed for Trevor Nunn’s workshop of David Almond’s play ‘Skellig’ in 1999. As a tune it seemed to suit the bagpipes, so a short time later I offered it to Liam O’Flynn [ who performs it as ‘The Irish Sea’, see above] and also arranged it as presented here, for the larger forces of pipeband, full orchestra and choir; it worked so well that by 2000 it had found a permanent home in the revised Pilgrim suite. However, two years later at the Young Vic Theatre, London, this music was put to its originally-intended use and, during that Christmas period, helped an angel to fly.


Musicians Orchestra: RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Brophy, led by Alan Smale and Elaine Clark. Choir: members of The Guinness
Choir and Tallaght Choral Society. For the Special Olympics tracks the choir is joined by members of The Culwick Choral Society, The Dunlaoghaire Choral Society, Coolmine Musical Society and Glasnevin Musical Society.
Vocal Soloists:
Rita Connolly in ‘May We Never Have To Say Goodbye’, and ‘Farewell to Nantes’.
Seamus Begley in ‘Fill to me the Parting Glass’.
Ronan Tynan: guest vocal in ‘May we never have to say Goodbye’.
Chorus vocals: Seamus Begley, Breanndan Begley, Rita Connolly, Shaun Davey with guests, The Voice Squad; Phil Calary, Gerry Cullen and Fran Mc Phail.
Uilleann Pipes and whistle: Liam O’Flynn.
Gaita: Edelmiro Fernandez.
Fiddle: Nollaig Casey.
Irish Harp: Triona Marshall.
Button Accordions: Seamus Begley and Breanndan Begley.
Bagpipes: Music from ‘The Pilgrim’; Dave Rickard, Noel Harford and Edward Harford. Music for the Special Olympics: members of the St. Lawrence O’Toole pipeband led by Pipe Major Terry Tully; Alen Tully, Dave Rickard, Noel Kelly, Darren McCarthy.
Percussion: Noel Eccles.
Guitar: Des Moore and Albert Niland.
Bass guitar: Joe Csibi jnr.
Keyboards: Rod McVey and Shaun Davey
National Concert Hall Organ: David Milne.

The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

Gerhard Markson Principal Conductor
Alexander Anissimov Conductor Emeritus
William Eddins Principal Guest Conductor

The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra plays a central role in classical music in Ireland, through live performance, broadcast and touring. As an integral part of RTÉ, the orchestra reaches a great number of listeners through its weekly broadcasts on RTÉ lyric fm and through its association with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). In addition to its annual subscription season at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Horizons contemporary music series, Irish national tours, residencies and summer concerts series, the orchestra continues to make a name for itself internationally through its recordings with Naxos, Marco Polo and on RTÉ’s own label. In 2004, the RTÉ NSO won the Orchestra and Concerto: CD Première category of the Critics’ Awards in the 2004 Cannes Classical Awards for its recording of Joly Braga Santos’s Symphony No. 4 under conductor Alvaro Cassuto.

Recording and Production:
The music for the 2003 Special Olympics World Games was recorded in the National Concert Hall, Dublin in January and June 2003; soloists, percussion and mixing atWindmill Lane Studios, Dublin. All other music was recorded in RTÉ Radio Studio 1 in April 2006.
Recording Engineer: Brian Masterson RTÉ
Assistant Engineer: Mark Dwyer Assistant Engineers: Maria Fitzgerald and Ciaran Lynch Recording Producer: Shaun Davey
RTÉ Performing Groups Project Manager: Gareth Costello
General Manager, RTÉ NSO: Brian O'Rourke Executive Director,
RTÉ Performing Groups: Niall Doyle
Orchestra Manager, RTÉ NSO: Vivienne Atcheler
RTÉ Studio Management: Paul Bradley
Technical backup at NCH: John Munnis;
Copying and music preparation: Sarah Burn, Fergus O’Carroll and Colin Rea.
Co-ordination assistance: Ian Amos
Front cover photograph of Shaun Davey: by Shane McCarthy
Design: Philip Melly, Design Warehouse
Executive Producers: John Cook, Noel Eccles and Shaun Davey

Shaun Davey wishes to thank the following for their assistance; Special Olympics Inc., RTÉ, Tyrone Productions, The National Concert Hall of Ireland, all the artists who have graciously given permission for their recorded performance of the music for the Special Olympics to be incorporated in this album;

Noel Eccles, Brian Masterson, Rita Connolly, Rupert Murray [artistic director of the Special Olympics World Games opening ceremony], John McColgan, Pauline MacNamara, Tony O’Dalaigh, Andy O’Callaghan, Jean-Pierre Pichard, Sean O’Beachain, Aidan Grimes, Gareth Costello, Brian O’Rourke, Niall Doyle, John Cook, Ian Amos, Hong Soon Har, Donnacha Begley, Paul Bradley, Pipe major Paul Russell and the Blackraven Pipeband, Liam O’Maonlai, Gareth Hudson, Guy Berrier, Maureen Donohoe, Helena Plews, Liam Hennessy, Paul Angier, Mick Barry, Cdt. Mark Armstrong, David Milne, Francis Hughes, Bill Fraher, Fr. Jack Wall, Kyran O’Brien, Johnny Donnelly, Robbie Harris, The Macnas Drummers, Thunderdrums, Newbridge, The MaSamba School in Dublin,The Lorient Interceltic Festival, Donnie Munroe, Carlos Nunez.


FILL TO ME THE PARTING GLASS [words traditional]

All the money that e’er I had
I spent it in good company
And all the harm I’ve ever done
Alas it was to none but me
And all I’ve done for want of wit
To memory now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Goodnight and joy be to you all.
Fill to me the parting glass
And drink a health what e’er befalls
Then gently rise and softly call
Goodnight and joy be to you all.

All the comrades that e’er I had
They’re sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e’er
I had They’d wish me one more day to stay
But since it fell into my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I gently rise and softly call
Goodnight and joy be to you all.

We crossed the oceans
We crossed the valleys
We crossed the mountains high
There’s none to fear
For now we’re here
And may we never have to say goodbye

So come we all to take our chances
For we're prepared to try
To run the race, to face the challenge
And may we never have to say goodbye
We bid you welcome to share the feeling
Now that the evening’s nigh
Come take my hand For here we stand
And may we never have to say goodbye

KENAVO D’AN NAONED [words by Gilles Servat]
War hent Doue kalon ar Breizhiz
A vo bepred gant ar Sant Mab Mil
War-zu kreisteiz dre ar c’hompezennoú kriz
Elec’h ma neuy an euzvil

Daw dit mont kuit c’hoazh
War ar mor braz
War an donn c’haro
C’hoar d’ar maro

Me wel da vag war al Liger e’hell
Me wel da ouel en avel o frouai
Even un evn gloazet o krenan e askell
Kasset pell gant an dichal

Daw dit mot kuit c’hoazh
War ar mor braz
War an donn c’harto
C’hoar d’ar maro’
Daw dit talin en dro
An donn c’haro

FAREWELL TO NANTES [translation]
On the road of God the Breton’s heart
Will be always with the Saint Son of
Mil Southward through the cruel plains
Where the monster swims

You must go once more
On the wide sea
On the rough waves
Sister of death

I see your ship on the dark Loire
I see your sail shivering in the wind
Like a bird injured with a trembling wing
borne away by the tide

You must go once more
On the wide sea
On the rough waves
Sister of death
You must face once more the rough waves