Sunday, February 19, 2012

Of all the money 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 mem'ry now I can't recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all.

Oh, all the comrades e'er I had,
They're sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts e'er I had,
They'd wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls unto my lot,
That I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call,
Good night and joy be with you all.

If I had money enough to spend,
And leisure time to sit awhile,
There is a fair maid in this town,
That sorely has my heart beguiled.
Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips,
I own she has my heart in thrall,
Then fill to me the parting glass,
Good night and joy be with you all.


susan said...

you do know this lady's heavy into the whole 'witch' thing don't you?

Carol said...


Carol said...

Phew - Thanks! Changed it.

Jack O'Malley said...

Loreena McKennitt is a wiccan?

Is there any evidence for this?

Carol said...


When you do a google of her name with witch, wiccan - it seems a lot of content comes up that I think is accurately described in this link

What Are Loreena McKennitt's Spiritual Beliefs?
It is clear that many of the people who are interested in Loreena McKennitt's music are intensely curious about her spiritual beliefs. After the release of The Visit, there was on-going discussion on various Internet forums about whether Loreena was or was not a Pagan. These discussions arose because of Loreena's musical contribution to the NFB's Women's Spirituality videos as well as her use of what could be seen as Pagan images in some of her work. The discussions got very emotional at times and resulted in rumours such as "Loreena is a Pagan, but she won't admit it publicly for fear of the effect such an admission would have on her career" and "Loreena is both a practising Pagan and a practising Roman Catholic". Being the kind of person Loreena is, being labelled either a Pagan or a Roman Catholic would not bother her in the least, but for the sake of separating fact from fiction and to defend Loreena from the accusation that she would be deceptive about her beliefs if she felt it threatened her pocketbook, neither of these rumours is true. While she has used Pagan images, or more accurately, Celtic mythological images, in her work and finds spiritual renewal in nature (as is common of many Neo-Pagans), Loreena has never been a Pagan. Neither has she ever been a Roman Catholic. As a child, she attended the United Church of Canada, a liberal protestant denomination she credits with giving her an open-minded and tolerant stance towards matters of belief.

After the release of The Mask and Mirror and The Book of Secrets -- albums in which Loreena's exploration of spiritual themes takes on an expressly universal nature -- and after discussing her thoughts on the subject more explicitly in the media, a more accurate picture of Loreena's spiritual orientation has emerged. Simply stated, while not claiming membership in any particular religious denomination, Loreena is curious about many forms of spirituality and has done extensive reading of works representing various religious traditions, and in certain cases, incorporated these into her work, e.g. she has used Sufi images in her work, and set St John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul to music.

Further elaborating on her private beliefs in interviews, Loreena has stated that she would find it very difficult to describe what she believes, and that she is still exploring issues such as "the nature of the soul", "who or what is God" or "what is the difference between religion and spirituality". Loreena has stated that she believes in the existence of a higher power, but thinks it is more important to acknowledge that there is a sophisticated power at the root of human existence than to be able to describe or quantify it in any particular way. A favourite image she likes to use, when talking about her spirituality, is the Sufi notion of "polishing the mirror of one's soul", which she interprets as striving to improve one's talents and abilities so that they can be used to reflect something positive back into the community.

Another statement that Loreena makes quite frequently is that she believes "humans have a need to be spiritually engaged" despite the fact that today's lifestyle often makes it difficult for people to satisfy this need. That Loreena herself continues to be a "spiritual explorer" in the face of a hectic life that often provides little opportunity for contemplation and reflection is strong testament to the importance spirituality plays in her life and work. It may not take the form of ascribing to a specific religion or doctrine, but if her music is any testament, it is sincere.

Carol said...

Suffice it to say, she is cleverly dropping hints about the nature of her pagan spirituality but won't fully reveal it out of fear she would lose some audience.

Lovely voice, but she is using it to mislead people into the pagan abyss she has fallen into.

It's burning brush time in Massachusetts. If you've got her music in the house, I'd make a nice fire with it.

breathnach said...

I grew up listening to traditional Irish music long before the Celtic and World music genres hit-both parents being native Irish speakers and coming from the folklore rich, Connemara Gaeltacht.

They were highly suspect, in the 70s when the first wave of Celtic music hit, of singing that was even accompanied by instrumentation.

But Celtic music popularity has done great things even for more orthodox forms of traditional Irish music. However, there has been this strain of neo-paganism starting with groups like Clannad and singers like Enya. The ethereal, misty quality of it lends itself to New Ageism.

Much of the singing is accomplished but the New Agers are exploiting the whole genre.

Jack O'Malley said...


I had found that citation even before I posed the question. Isn't it up to Loreena McKennitt to declare herself a member of whatever sect she wishes? And does her private religion detract from her musical genius?

What concerns me here is that, based upon an unfounded allegation (i.e. she is 'into the witch thing') that you have substituted her video with Cara Dillon's. Now Cara is a good singer and purportedly a good Catholic, but she is not the artist that Loreena McKennitt is.

You clearly have enjoyed Loreena's artistry up until now; so have I. But even if she should declare herself a wiccan or whatever they call themselves while dancing naked at Stonehenge on a pentagram or hexagon or icosahedron, how does that lessen her rendition of St. John of the Cross, or the extract of 'Hail the Bridegroom' in Dante's Prayer. She is a seeker after Truth. She has not yet found Him.

But did not several Fathers of the Church think the pagan Socrates a saint? And the pagan Vergil a prophet for his Fourth Eclogue? Did Merton not seek mystical truth among the pagan Buddhists? If McKennitt has read the wisdom of the Sufis, is she more to be condemned or rather to be encouraged on her mystical journey? A journey which may yet culminate in an ecstasy of Eucharistic Adoration and a resultant flowering of Catholic musical creativity? Are the compositions of the schismatic Metropolitan Hilarion not glorious paeans to the Godhead? His friend and music lover Benedict XVI thinks so.

I will not be burning my cd's. And I am sure you meant that in jest. What bothers me is that I am uncertain whether Susan's innuendo constitutes the mortal sin of detraction. Were it proven that Michelangelo had been a sodomite, should we burn the Sistine Chapel ceiling or destroy the Pietà? And Loreena? The Lady's Not For Burning.

This is your blog. You may of course post what you want and delete what you want. But I would suggest restoring Loreena's Parting Glass. Add Liam Clancy's and Ronnie Drew's for good measure. ;-) Them lads wasn't the best o' Catholics either. But they died in the bosom of the Church. Perhaps with your prayers and those of your readers, Loreena McKennitt will as well. Seeking is finding.

BTW, I first heard Loreena McKennitt sing The Highwayman on one of Brian O'Donovan's Celtic Sojourn broadcasts. I was in a rush doing an errand and I sat in the car listening to the whole song. That was many years ago and I have been a fan ever since. I'm listening to The Lady of Shalott right now. The Orthodox in me wants to call this The Onion Dame. OK, that was the worst pun I ever wrote. Are puns sins?

susan said...

"What bothers me is that I am uncertain whether Susan's innuendo constitutes the mortal sin of detraction. Were it proven that Michelangelo had been a sodomite, should we burn the Sistine Chapel ceiling or destroy the Pietà? And Loreena? The Lady's Not For Burning."

Are you kidding me?...seriously Jack, how over the top can you get?

And this woman is not a "seeker of truth", she's had Truth in front of her eyes her whole life and chose to look elsewhere. And she, like we all, made a decision on what she would do with her talent and whom she would honor. Yes, she has a great GOD GIVEN talent, but many of her songs revel in the 'old ways' and put any breath of Christianity on a syncretistic par with druid sacrifice and witchcraft. READ THE WORDS to a bunch of her stuff and if your blood doesn't run cold, well let's just say I won't go accusing you of mortal sin (even if I'm thinking it to myself).

When I educated myself to who she was I most certainly got rid of her stuff from my home (threw it out, didn't burn it...does that get me any points?) I don't need the pagan references wafting through the air of my home...a home that honors Christ as its Head and King.

If you want to assuage your guilty conscience for listening to pagan crap just because the voice singing it is beautiful, have at it; but to accuse someone of mortal sin for stating a glaring fact is, well, let's just say unwise, if not detraction itself.

And BTW; before you accuse me of calling her "St. John of the Cross" stuff crap, I didn't...she just puts it on a par with crap, and that is something I won't condone. The devil himself quotes Scripture perfectly and beautifully, and often appears as a beautiful angel of light...

And Carol, thanks for the extended exposition on her proclivities...she a neo-pagan siren and you're a good woman for pointing out the facts.

Carol said...

Jack, me darlin',

When cruising the web, I came across a number of sites where women practicing witchcraft were edified by Loreen's lyrics. As an Irish Catholic woman, I was appalled by the witness she is giving to other women. If my gig left other women with the impressions witchcraft is a spiritual source to pursue, I would be frantic. I wouldn't take a dime from anyone or anything until I straightened out the crooked path.

What she is doing is worse than John Unni. No matter what kind of homilies he gives that may be good, or good music they produce, I could not enjoy it or host it here. All I can think about is the cost to our Lord.

I will pray for her though...

Jack "The Druid" O'Malley said...

Well, OK, maybe I'll get rid of the cd's. But I'm keeping my Loreena McKennitt's Bewitching Cookbook. The Eye-of-Newt soup is hellishly hot especially with the Toe-of-Frog croutons. I serve it every Samhain. The Salamander Casserole is to die for. Literally. Today being Mardi Gras, I'm trying her Liver-of-Christian pâté. In the past it has been very difficult to find the genuine ingredients but with the spread New Age culture, more markets are carrying them. Pete Pendragon's Pagan Deli in Back Bay has the best selection and quality. But you have to know what you're buying. He's been known to try to slip in minced Mormon on occasion.

I will take Susan's advice and study some of the lyrics. But don't blame me if I get caught sacrificing my neighbor's graymalkin by the ancient oak tree. It's usually pretty murky out there but you never know when Julianna Margulies might show up and part the mists.

Still, I don't know. Maybe I should keep the cd's. I'm really unsure. What should I do? What should I do?

I know! I'll ask my ouija board!

breathnach said...


Be mindful. You don't want to come across a puca in your conjuring:

susan said...

yep...laugh it up guys. Remember that whole Scripture passage about God not being mocked???

and Jack, why don't you go and hang a big picture (done by a very talented artist of course) of Bacchus up next to the Sacred Heart in your house...

Jack O'Malley said...


I avoid pukas at all costs. In fact I am so cautious that I only listen to Loreena McKennitt on my ipod while sitting inside a ring of fire. My wife objects but I have to admit the living room carpet is indeed ruined. She is buying a new one and I will be using vigil lights from now on. I hope they work as well as the charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid.

And thanks for the site link. As you are a lover of sean nós, here is a video of Darach Ó Catháin singing Óró sé do bheatha 'bhaile on youtube.


I acknowledge you a master not only of innuendo but of the ad hominem slur. Go to confession and say a good Act of Contrition.

I not only have a picture of the Sacred Heart but of several Eastern icons. And, just so you know, I happen already to have a painting of Dionysus. It hangs above the statue of Aphrodite. Wine and love are the gifts of God. Even St. Socrates knew that. Do you?

Jack O'Malley, Keeper of the Sacred Druidic Mistletoe

breathnach said...


Thanks for that. O'Cathain was originally from my mum's village. Heaney was next door neighbor of my dad.

On the question of art, aesthetics and Catholicism, I'm firmly in the camp of the great "hillbilly Thomist", Flannery O'Connor. She did very heavy lifting in St. Thomas Aquinas and his modern interpreters like Maritain and Gilson etc.

The Thomist view is that a work of art has to be judged first and foremost for the integrity of the "thing made". A vile person can be a great artist. We have to be able to measure the integrity of the work itself.

James Joyce is a good example. He was personally a despicable person. Publicly, he was a mocker of Roman Catholicism and a hater of religion. I have little interest in his work outside of "Dubliners", however I would not deny that he was a great artist.

When it comes to performers like McKennitt. I appreciate being aware of their New Age proclivities. However, I still would not toss her work aside based solely on that. I'd listen to her singing if it had artistic integrity. I'd reject her shilling for New Ageism, if that is what she is doing. Sometimes, these artists abandon their artistic integrity and attach themselves solely to ideology or evil itself. Then it becomes impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff in their work.

Flannery O'Connor's essays collected as "Mystery and Manners", are fantastic on these questions.

susan said...


You're too rude to even respond to in a decent way, so I won't even try.

I've entered the desert with my King today, and there won't be any pagan music or stupid, effete jokes and snide slurs at His cost.

And I recommend you take your own advice on the confession. I've made mine.

Carol said...


Whorhol and Maplethorpe had talent too. But, for the same reasons you'll never see their artwork on this blog, you won't see a woman who sells spiritual abuse to other women on this blog.

An uncatechized Catholic woman might stumble upon it, and its presence on a faithful blog could trip her up. I would never take that chance.

There are many talented artists, actors, celebrities out there. When they sell the culture of death to the uncatechized, I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I see it or hear it.

Goodnight and joy be with you all.

Jack O'Malley said...

A Bhreathnach a chara,

Thanks for the info on both Aquinas and Flannery, I've read a couple of her novels but never the essays. I'm a fan so I will definitely read them.

The idea of ars artis gratia can of course be carried to extremes but I think that if one imposes an ideological view on the "thing made" then it often does not rise to the level of art but remains an artefact of propaganda. This is essentially distinct from a religious, spiritual, erotic or humanistic inspiration that imbues the artist.

It just seemed to me at first glance that to refuse to listen to McKennitt because she may derive her inspiration from pagan or Sufi or Berber traditions is to be parochial in the extreme and therefore not universal or catholic, especially in today's world where those musical traditions are so much more accessible. Catholicism looks outward at the unconverted world. Go and teach all nations.

There was a time was when traditional Irish music was confined to the Gaeltacht and in fact disprized in the larger world. Now we have Celtic Woman and the Irish Tenors and Celtic Thunder. God forbid we have Celtic Rainbow from John Unni's choir loft. Though if it's good chant, I'd buy the cd despite the fact that there may be unnatural chords struck. We all have to thank Liam, Tom, and Paddy Clancy and Tommy Makem. The world now knows we survived To Hell or Connaught (in the Saxon spelling).

Were such a blinkered Weltanshauung as has been here expressed, to be, if I may stretch the point to the ludicrous, say, carried into the culinary sphere, then Indian food would have to be proscribed from a "good" Catholic's diet because the Hindu is a Veda or Mahabharata reading pagan, or Szechuan food because the Chinese is an animist and ancestor worshipper. And no Egyptian hommus since the deli is owned by a heretical Monophysite Copt!

Actually, as I was disconsolately contemplating the prospect of the little bonfire of my Loreena McKennitt vanities, I just couldn't set them alight. I am by nature no Savonarola and I will countenance no Fahrenheit 451 or whatever the temperature of burning plastic is. Loreena I'll keep along with Fanny Hill.

Go ahead. Burn a cd. Burn a book. Burn a Talmud. Then start a pogrom. Let us rid the world of Error! Error has no rights. Kill 'em all, God will know His own. I would have hoped we were beyond such deadly ideas. The descent to Avernus is easy.

Besides, has McKennitt ever said she is a witch? Or is it that the sticky wicky ladies co-opted her for their own purposes? And even if that is her spiritual haven now, let us pray she awakens to the Way, the Truth and the Life.

It is Ash Wednesday. Let us fast-forward to the Good Friday Prayer for the Pagans. Do the novus ordo fleeced sheep pray that in their Bugnini masonic temples anymore?

Jack O'Malley said...


I am not tyring to offend you. But you seem to want to offend me.

If you object to what I have written, respond to that. But please desist with the personal insults.

Jack O'Malley said...


I'm sorry for forcing this issue. We don't see it the same way. But I love your blog and admire you in your zeal for the Faith.

I will take a break from commenting because it seems that I have overstepped the bounds of propriety. We must, I think, agree to disagree (as the cliché goes) on the matter of artistic freedom. I agree about Warhol and Mapplethorpe. But I shrink from destroying their work. I will rail against the suppression of art. It must not be consigned to the flames. Or History will condemn us. Let us rather oppose it with the Good, the True and the Beautiful. History will then justly laud us.

To be clear, I do not agree that McKennitt is in the same category as the hacks you mentioned. Nor do I understand your other remarks about her.

God bless you. You remain an inspiration to me of the True Faith in our Lord.

Carol said...


Aren't you the person who wouldn't go to a valid Transubstantiation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because of the conduct and content of the characters, music, language in the Novus Ordo?

That is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass you've boycotted. I am puzzled as to why I seem unable to get across why I can't put up or support Loreena's work - any of it.

Women are extremely emotional and vulnerable creatures. She is exploiting them. Spiritually abusing them. I am deeply disturbed by her gig.

I'm wondering - if she was a piazano would you be so defensive? Is it her heritage that is really at the bottom of it?

I hope you continue to post - we enjoy your comments. I am not sure how this post became so controversial. I thought everyone would enjoy it - all my Irish readers--I have many.

breathnach said...


it got a bit heated, but I hope more light than heat came through.

Mapplethorpe and Warhol are bad art and can be dismissed on that ground alone.

Mapplethorpe's talent was completely worm eaten by the hate and ideology that dominated him.

Andy Warhol's work is trite. On a personal level he may have come to something as a lifelong, outwardly devout Byzantine Rite Catholic. How a guy with manifest feeling and appreciation of liturgy and devotion can act in such a twisted manner lies in the realm of the mystery of evil.

I completely respect and concur with your right to promote works that are in accordance with your Faith formed conscience.

breathnach said...


A recently published book from tradionalist Catholic publisher TAN/St. Benedict Press entitled "The Abbess of Andalusia-Flannery O'Connor's Spiritual Journey by Lorraine V. Murray" is a great read. I'm in awe of this woman's combination of imagination, intellect, charity and profound Faith, especially under the burden of a death sentence that Lupus was in the 50s and early 60s.

Also her letters, "Habit of Being" are full of insight and her deadly sense of humor and inability to suffer fools gladly (especially those within the Church).

Jack O'Malley said...


I think I've said all I have to say on the subject. Including my continuing respect for you and the mission of this blog. I didn't intend to arouse a controversy here.

I don't want to discuss the novus ordo. It is not relevant to the issue here. Nor the implication of McKennitt's ethnicity. If you think that, I have badly failed in making my point.

I'm sorry I derailed this thread. I clearly need to read more and write less. But I will remain an enthusiastic reader. I may even interject a comment or two here and there.

For my penance, I am embarking on a course of reading about ancient Celtic spirituality. Searching out the profound cosmic powers that are innate in soul of the modern Celt and which were extirpated by the slave sheep-herder Patrick.

Just joking. :-)


Thanks for the further refs on Flannery. She may become my Lenten reading.

Jack O'Malley said...

A Bhreathanach, a chara,

I'm not sure whether you're still reading this thread but I'd be interested in any suggestions you have as to venues of sean nós singing in the Boston area. Either regularly or periodically. I am really out of touch with the Irish traditional scene and would like to get to know the local artists.

In the mean time here is Róisín Elsafty singing Róisín Dubh. She has several other videos as does her sister Naisrin.

Carol said...

Me too, me too. Awesome links.

Jack O'Malley said...

Agus seo Maria McCool í atá ag canadh Ar Éirinn Ní Neosfainn Cé Hí

Not sean nós but a joy for the ears nonetheless.

breathnach said...

Hi Jack,

A good source for Irish trad music scene around Boston is Comhaltas Ceoltori Eireann's Boston chapter:

Also for seisuns around the area, the Irish Emigrant newsletter contains up to date listings (it's a green newsletter sold in convenience stores in Dorchester, South Boston etc)


An excellent and very active sean nos, local performer (very purist orientation) is Maureen Keady from Lettermore, a longtime, proud Dorchester resident. She's very generous with her time performing in local parishes, and has given great comfort to Connemara people with her singing at funerals and gravesides:

A treasure trove of excellent, music and documentaries is the Irish language television broadcaster TG4.

Tremendous broadcasts are archived at:

Of related interest, sailing traditions still survive in West Galway, a recent BBC show featured my Joyce cousins' hooker, the Volunteer:

Thanks for the Elsafty links. Interesting background, her father is an Egyptian doctor, mother a Connemara native. Cheers!

breathnach said...

There are great things going on in the wider traditional music world. A magnificent English folk singer, Yorkshire native, the great Kate Rusby:

breathnach said...

Last but not least is from Scotland, North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, saw her perform in venue outside of Glasgow in 2007, Julie Fowls:

Jack O'Malley said...


Go raibh céad míle maith agat mar geall é sin! (The grammar may be off but the appreciation is sincerely on!)

I have plenty of fodder now to learn more. You are a treasure of Irish culture and I am grateful to you.

And thanks to Carol for featuring the Róisín Elsafty youtube video! She deserves to be more widely famed.