Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Johnny Dynamite and Hy Brazil

This is a mighty photographic portrait of Johnny Dynamite O'Brien, by Pirie MacDonald.
(Pirie Macdonald in Smith, Horace, A Captain Unafraid: The strange adventures of Dynamite Johnny O'Brien, New York:, Harper, 1912, p. 11).



Above is a rough demo of a song I composed about Dynamite Johnny O'Brien. The lyrics are on my first posting about Johnny. The song will form part of an album tentatively entitled -- "Hy Brazil" -- it concerns the Irish in Latin America and Spain.

Another song from the CD entitled "Father George Mountgomery" concerns the set up of an Irish Gaelic Colony, in Brazil, in the 19th century. 

Philibín Ó Súilleabháin -- a son of a son of a Chieftain, of the O' Sullivan Beara Clan -- is another subject of song. He was a child at the time of the grievous and infamous Ó Súilleabháin Beara March of 1602/1603, he marched by his fathers side. You can read more of that history here.
Philibín spent his adult life in Spain and could never return to his native land, he composed an in-dept and heartfelt Encyclopedia of "The Natural History of Ireland." The book has only recently been published by Cork University Press. It painstakingly catalogs the character of the people, the birds, insects, mountains and rivers of Ireland. 

Some other subjects of song in "Hy Brazil" include -- an Irish language version of my song "Pa' Los Del San Patricio", and two songs written in the 19th century by an Irishman of the Pampas of Argentina. 



Selected quotes from the first section of Johnny Dynamite's autobiography "A Captain Unafraid," ghost written by Horace Herbert Smith.
"After all what is bravery if not an inborn quality – the heritage of clean lives of fighting blood and unweakened nerves? The world is full of it. And if some portion of this heritage has been mine I am grateful, for in my warring days there were times – many of them – when, I have been afraid to die. Bravery is confined to no longitude or latitude, and knows no race. I have found brave men everywhere, as will presently be told and it was my fortune to be intimately associated with the best of them"
"The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes, as far as I can remember, was a vessel and almost the next thing the sea".
"Being of Irish parentage, I was favorably disposed to dynamite on general principal".
"People tell me I have outraged governments, this may be, but I have never knowingly wronged a fellow man".

On America's reluctance to help Cuba during  their War of Independence -- 

"Certainly it does not come with good grace from a country which prides itself on the principal that the will of the people is the law of the land to say to its neighbours that it shall not oppose tyranny and fight with every means in their power for what they believe to be their rights.
We [Americans] should not forget that we were rebels once ourselves, and warmly welcomed filibustering aid from France "


"A Captain Unafraid, the Strange Adventures of Johnny Dynamite O' Brien" is available to read on Google Books - http://books.google.com/ebooks/reader?id=PAdLAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader

For those who have an interest I recorded the song "Johnny Dynamite" here in a bedroom in Atlanta, with a Marantz PMD 660 and an AT825 stereo mic.

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