Songwriter’s inspiration

It was Peter Simpson (below), husband of the beautiful Liz (Brennan) who first encouraged Rose to write her own songs. Now her first album of her own songs, numbering fourteen in total, has been released and little jewels they all are.  

Rose explains:

Pete just said two summers ago, ‘Rose, why don’t you write your own songs?’

It was something I never considered up to that point. I thank Peter for his vision and confidence in me. 

My songs are inspired by stories, events and emotions all held together by a series of notes that just happen to feel right to me; I hope, to others, too.

String of Pearls, the title track, was inspired by a true story published in our local Killowen Historical Society’s publication Lost in the Mists of Time. Allied troops from many countries were assembled and trained at the Ballyedmond camp in preparation for the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. A local girl met an American GI and fell in love. 

Fires of Farewell is based on a story that my father Mark told me – that fires of whins were set on the sides of mountains to offer farewell to loved ones emigrating from Carlingford Lough for distant shores.

Many people have enjoyed the hospitality and erudition of local Rostrevor historian John Joe Parr. After pleasant evenings of song, conversation and music, I was inspired to pay tribute to him in the song Roll Back the Years John Joe.

Way back in the 1960s when Ireland was electrified by the prospect of the first Irish-American President, my grandfather Redmond O’Hanlon wrote JFK a well-wishing letter and was astonished and delighted to receive a personal reply. This is commemorated in the song ‘Dear Redmond’.

Memories of stories told by my paternal grandfather Mark Brennan about the ‘old days’ on Kilfeighan Lane inspired me to write By the Side of Cnoc Shee.

Dominic Parr’s journey to Athenry in the early 40’s when he was a small boy inspired me to write My Dear Rostrevor Town.

The fun ditty The Festival Song celebrates the friends and visitors from all parts who annually grace the brilliant Fiddlers Green Festival.

At the end of a particular session back in July 2010 Sean Parr of Athenry passed comment on the ‘last note’ that underlined its finality. Hence, the final song here.

I feel strongly that my grandmother Elizabeth O’Hanlon – who has passed on – is still very close by. She is ‘With Me Always’.

On the same theme, the grief and sense of loss felt when friends and neighbours pass on moved me to write Goodbye to This House.

‘Hands’ is a simple tribute to my parents for their tireless work. Liz wanted to share in this, so she speaks the monologue to accompany my singing.

My parents too are the ‘Angels’ on whom I may (and do) call for help and support when times are tough or when pain is strongly felt.

I dedicate this album to my loving family and friends.

Rose  Brennan.


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