The Story of Slievenamon

Since our Tipperary Star travels all over the world, especially on the Internet our emigrants will surely be interested in the story behind the Tipperary's anthem Slievenamon. It was printed in the Irish Daily Mail in September and all Tipperary people good and true would surely be in the better of knowing all about it.

The stirring strains of that great Tipperary anthem Slievenamon are guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye of many exiles. On first glance Slievenamon which is not far from Clonmel in South Tipperary and rises to 719 metres seems rather unprepossessing. But rocks and its valleys contain many hidden gems such as a prehistoric cairn which may contain a passage grave but remains unexcavated.

Slievenamon, which means mountain of the women in Irish deprives it’s name from the fairy women of Feidhlinn.

Legend has it that the celtic warrior Fionn Mac Cumhaill chose his bride Grainne from a group of maidens who raced to meet him near the top of the mountain. Slievenamon is also steeped in the national struggle. A group of United Irishmen were betrayed and slaughtered on the mountain during the 1798 rebellion.

Tipp. people are rightly proud of the mountain and guard it jealously, five years ago when an entrepreneur planned to build a wind farm in its slopes there was such public outrage that the scheme was dropped.

The song Slievenamon which began life as the Maid of Slievenamon was written by the Fenian author and journalist Charles J. Kickham who was born in Mullinahone, Co. Tipperary in 1828. The Irish version was attributed to Michel Og Langain. Kickham, the son of a draper wrote many more ballads while his novel Knocknagow first published in 1873 was the great nationalist novel of late 19th century Ireland. It was reprinted many times and also turned into one of the earliest feature firms in 1917.

Whichever version of Slievenamon you prefer, English or Irish, anyone with Tipp. blood in their veins will stand proud when they hear their county anthem.

And what about the time when the Thurles Cathedral Choir sang it on the steps of St. Peter’s in Rome. The many people who accompanied the choir on that very special occasion said they will never forget it, not to mind the choir itself which poured heart and soul into their rendering of such a beautiful melody. Traffic streaming by, mostly motor bikes made a recording, a true recording, an impossibility but anybody on foot - pedestrians - certainly watched and listened in joy and amazement and why not - a once in a life time occasion especially for the choir. Sadly some have gone to their reward and great it must be. We remember them especially.

The information was sent in by G. Brown of Dublin - Gratias Gerry. It will be enjoyed by the Tipp. people all over the world - yes - we are everywhere, and their families. Some Tipp. parents feel very proud when their children sing it at concerts and parties in the U.S. and indeed receive many requests for repeat performances. One young boy with beautiful tenor voice is in great demand and there is a promising future ahead of him - his parents emigrated from Cashel and enjoy a wide social circle of people who want to hear the boy with the beautiful voice - Slievenamon is always included. So be proud of your anthem and of your county too wherever you are.

Sln, Rita D.


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