Dam Across the Lagan

This is a song written for Engineering Paradise the Musical but eventually removed from the script because, being the last song in the play and eurogising as it does the Continuity IRA, it would have left the audience with the wrong message. It was replaced with an acapella version of Leon Rosselson’s beautiful anti-war song History Lesson. I have included a little bit about about Northern Ireland politics to help you get all of the references. Here it’s sung by a Geordie, which is all wrong!


      Dam_Across_the_Lagan

Melody and instruments: James Fraser
Vocals: William Playle
Lyrics: David Gardiner

This song was removed from an earlier draft of Engineering Paradise the Musical for a number of reasons, the main one being its narrowly partisan sentiments, eulogising the Continuity IRA, and, as the last song in the play, sending the audience home with the wrong message. It was replaced with a powerful pre-existing Leon Rosselson song (History Lesson) that expresses the futility of revolutions like the one described here. Nevertheless I think it stands up well as a modern (post Good Friday Agreement) Irish rebel song.

For anyone who doesn’t know: the Lagan is Belfast’s river, and Stormont (the castle on the hill) has been the seat of Northern Ireland’s government since the establishment of the state in 1921. Lords Carson and Craigavon were the founding fathers of the state of Northern Ireland and are buried there. Good Friday 1998 was the date of the agreement between the representatives of Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland that marked the official end of the most recent round of ‘Troubles’. In total about 3,500 people died in this civil uprising.

Dam Across the Lagan

You can dam across the Lagan but you’ll never stop its flow
For a trillion tons of water has to find a place to go
And a thousand years of history isn’t ended with a pen
And you’re dreaming if you think our sons will never rise again

There’s a thorn that’s buried deeply in the flesh of Ireland’s youth
There’s a need to raise our heads in pride and celebrate the truth
That the island we inhabit is a single living thing
From Portstewart down to Bantry out to Kerry’s famous Ring

If a thousand years are needed then a thousand years we’ll fight
For you can’t kill every one of us or change what’s wrong to right
We won’t allow a foreign power to split our land in two
So you may as well stop claiming what does not belong to you

(Chorus)
You can dam across the Lagan but you’ll never stop its flow
For a trillion tons of water has to find a place to go
And a thousand years of history isn’t ended with a pen
And you’re dreaming if you think our sons will never rise again

It’s a cold and misty morning at the castle on the hill
Where Lords Carson and Craigavon in their coffins linger still
And the Quislings who are seated round the table in the hall
Think Good Friday was the moment of the final curtain call

But another storm is rising just beyond those purple hills
Where the young take up the challenge to avenge a nation’s ills
Determined that its people will have little time to wait
For an emerald flag to billow o’er a single Irish state

(Chorus)
You can dam across the Lagan but you’ll never stop its flow
For a trillion tons of water has to find a place to go
And a thousand years of history isn’t ended with a pen
And you’re dreaming if you think our sons will never rise again
Yes you’re dreaming if you think our sons will never rise again
 
 

 

© sirat 2020
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critique and comments welcome.
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