Fairport Convention record local artists’ poignant hit ‘John Condon’

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One of the world’s iconic bands, Fairport Convention have included an poignant song about the First World War penned by local songwriters in its new album.

‘John Condon’ has been included on Fairport’s first album in four years, entitled ‘Myths and Heroes’ and has been widely lauded as one of the stand-out tracks.

The band- which got together 48 years ago and is considered a seminal folk rock band - is also including John Condon in its live sets.

Waterford-born John Condon was one of the youngest to die in the First World War, and the 14-year-olds tragic story inspired the tribute song co-created by Richard Laird, Tracey McRory and the late Sam Starrett.

The reverential anti-war song is fast becoming one of the best loved songs of the centennial period, 100 years on from the First World War, and has previously been recorded by Mary Dillon, as well as by Niamh Parsons and by Armagh singer, Janet Dowd. As well as winning accolades, across the border some teenagers have taken on the song as part of their Leaving Certificate Music examination.

For Richard and Tracey, the fact that a band as prestigious, long-lived and as multi-talented as Fairport Convention has selected their song to record is another tremendous validation of their song writing prowess.

Fairport Convention's new 'Myths and Heroes' album, their first in four years.

Fairport Convention's new 'Myths and Heroes' album, their first in four years.

Both are well-known also as composers and their piece, ‘Ripples’, commissioned to celebrate the recent official opening of the Garden of Reflection in Bishop Street has been much praised.

Tracey said: “It’s great when artists as well known as Fairport take on our song. It gives us a lift of course and at the same time it’s sad that Sam is not here to join us in celebrating this moment.”

Richard Laird, who like Tracey has visited the battlefields of Belgium and France many times, remains convinced of the song’s power to draw our attention to the futility and wastefulness of war.

“So many young men gave their lives for what they believed in,” he said. “Some might have died for as much as a measly pair of new boots. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the graves row on row from when we first visited back in 2002. Those dead young men are the ‘heroes who never come home’.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see the graves row on row from when we first visited back in 2002. Those dead young men are the ‘heroes who never come home’.

Richard Laird

Tracey adds: “Wouldn’t it be great if we got that call from Fairport to come join them at their annual Cropredy Festival this coming August.”

Tracey and Richard recently played with Luka Bloom in Belgium and are back there now ahead of playing alongside a full orchestra in Bruges tomorrow.

Meanwhile they have been working on a new song ‘The Lost Boy’ which they describe as a Flemish/Irish/Northern Irish collaboration.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of George Llewelyn Davis, who along with his brothers inspired J.M. Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘The Lost Boys’. George was killed at St Eloi when he was just 21, and the new anti-war song was written together with a friend, Jo Lottegier from Flanders.

Fairport Convention back in their early years.

Fairport Convention back in their early years.