Time is Like a Promise.

I listened to Time is Like a Promise being sung by Scullion [male equivalent of scullery-maid] on Miriam Meets this Sunday morning. Scullion: Sonny Condell, Philip King & Robbie Overson. It was very nostalgic.

Time Is Like A Promise

[Lyric by Tír na nÓg]

If rain will fall high up here upon the mountain.

Grass will grow and shepherds will be thankful.

And our love will cover up for the mountain.

For time is like a promise it tries all your strength to keep to.

Before she came I lived alone upon the mountain.

Raven heard your voice high upon the wind.

Then one day you came to lay upon the mountain.

For time is like a promise it tries all your strength to keep to.

Your sun goes down and shadows soon are inter-weaving.

But she lies so deep inside my love – surrounds

Time will out-do us – this I only know too well.

For love is like a promise it tries all your strength to keep to.

If rain will fall high up here upon the mountain.

Grass will grow and shepherds will be thankful.

And our love will cover upon the mountain.

For time is like a promise it tries all your strength to keep to.

The guitar-playing, singing and visuals in the YouTube video are stunning. I think the stills could be from Co Wicklow. As I think I recognise the Wicklow Mountains and Laragh Lake. The author, Sonny Sondell derives from Laragh, Co Wicklow. It’s not too far from Rathdrum, where Goldenbridge children went each year on summer holidays.

I adored singing (high harmony) and playing guitar to this beautiful song with my English friend, Jennifer Armstong, when we both lived at St. Louise’s Hostel, (Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De-Paul) Medway St. Victoria, London, during the seventies. Jenni, was absolutely brilliant on acoustic guitar and had such a powerfully deep-soulful singing voice. The amazingly strong voice seemed so at variance with her gentle demeanour and frame. We derived great joy singing and playing folk-songs.

When I listened to the song I was reminded of the tremendous amount of genres of music we enjoyed in those long distant days of our youth. Jenny was all into Janis Joplin/Joni Mitchell, classical music, Bob Dylan, Barclay James Harvest and the great American Blues singers. I was into Joan Baez, Barclay James Harvest, Simon & Garfunkel, classical music, Bob Dylan, Irish/English/Welsh/Scottish/International traditional folk-singing; sacred religious and choral music, Gilbert & Sullivan, Godspell; Musicals and Mozart; Janet Baker, Joan Sutherland, Vienna Boys Choir, Welsh Male Choirs, Benjamin Britten/Robert Tear, John McCormac, Bernadette Greevy, Frank Patterson, Irish Rebel/Sean Nós songs, the latter refers to “old style” Irish song and dance, Fiddler on the Roof, Ralf McTell and the then very exotic Eurovision Song Contest, Edith Piaf and Brahms – the list goes on ad infinitum. Such a proliferation of music was soaked up by me. I made up for the lack of it, in my childhood. We even dabbled in song/lyric writing. At the time, I was very close to getting two of mine published. They were of a religious dimension, as I was all into the Charismatic Movement. The music/guitar playing, I guess, drew me to it like a magnet. Although, underneath it all, there was a kind of scepticism lurking around in my mind. Need I say more? I knew no better how to manage ambivalent feelings. If I had been aware of Celtic mysticism at the time, perhaps I could have gone down that road.

When I heard the song once again on Miriam’s brilliant programme and subsequently viewed the video, I was also instantaneously transported back to that era in London; when I used to wear a very ‘mod’ Afghan-embroidered-suede coat and a navy duffel coat with hood and Russian-style boots; flared torn jeans and embroidered jackets. I was so stylishly hippyish. I loved patchouli perfume and burning joy-sticks. I used to give poor old Sister Raphael headaches from the strength of the perfume, whenever she happened to have crossed my path. Jenni went on to study the humanities at Bristol university.

It was rather ironic, that some years later we should both accidentally encounter each other in Bournemouth. We were both with our mothers. I recall having to quietly explain to J that it was a long story about how my mother came into the picture. [Old photos of my mother reveal a striking resemblance in dress and appearance to Bernadette Greevy, when she was young.]  As far as Jenni was concerned I did not have any relations, as I’d never discussed my past in Ireland. It had been blocked out. Jenni’s mother had always been very kind and had invited me to her home in Hampshire. She even made me a Jane Austen doll.

I learned that Sonny Condell of Scullion is author of the song and it has an Irish Celtic theme. The song is forty years old and I still enjoy listening to it now as I did, when it originally came out in the seventies.

I was in an Irish traditional/folk music shop in Abbey St, Dublin, approximately a month ago, and asked the assistant about the history of Scullion, as I’d seen For Time is Like a Promise on the CD sleeve. She had no knowledge. I should have googled it. Well – we live and learn from the radio.

He who sings scares away his woes. Cervantes


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