James Cramer, the lead singer and songwriter with roots/folk group, Tupelo, is releasing a solo album inspired by the poetry of little-known Fermanagh poet, Matt Duggan. While preparing material for the second Tupelo album, Cramer happened upon a book of poetry in his local library that led him down an unexpected path.
Matt Duggan was born in County Fermanagh in 1914. He served in World War II and was a prisoner of war. Having survived this ordeal he returned to Fermanagh where he settled, raised a family, worked as a postman and frequently had his poetry published. He died in 1979, and thirty years later his son Gerry set about collecting all of his father’s poems and published them in a book titled From Mountain to Lough, The Collection.
In Cramer words: ‘I stumbled across Matt Duggan’s book… The title caught my eye. I took a quick glance at the poems and brought it home. A few days later I had the guitar out and I was working on some songs. For some reason I opened the book and read, ‘The Lights of Lisnaskay’. It hit me straight away that this was a beautiful ballad so I wrote a song to Matt’s words. I then flicked on another few pages to ‘The Mountain Road’ and wrote another song, the rest followed in this manner. An hour later I had a new collection of songs.
With some help from fellow Tupelo band members, and Bob Batty on flute and whistle, and Naoise Callan on some backing vocals, Cramer has turned The Lights of Lisnaskay in a very short time. He writes in the sleeve notes: ‘The whole point of this album is for Matt’s work to reach new people, young and old. I hope it makes you pick of a copy of his collection. Don’t mind the intellectuals, poetry is for everyone.’
Crashed Music have released a single, ‘The Road to Kinawley’, from the album as a taster of the combination of Matt Duggan’s words and James Cramers’ music. This can be streamed and downloaded from: soundcloud.com.
The album is available from irishmusicshop.ie
Published on 18 October 2012