Last Friday saw the release of Irish singer Pauline Scanlon‘s new album ‘The Unquiet’. On International Women’s Day, we shared her video for her album single Felton Lonnin, a Northumbrian Ballad about a missing child. She said: “I sing this song to honour the women and children who endured church and state systems of incarceration and separation in laundries, the mother and baby homes, county homes, residential institutions under systems of oppression, concealment, shame, abuse, and unspeakable cruelty.”
Pauline is a founding member of the Irish organisation FairPlé, which aims to achieve gender balance in the production, performance, promotion, and development of Irish traditional and folk music. The role of women in the arts is central to Pauline’s creative path and something she is very vocal about. The Unquiet reimagines what it is to be an Irish woman in the context of music and song.
Next week, at 2pm Friday 15th April, RTE Radio 1 will broadcast ‘The Unquiet – Songs for my Mother’ – a fascinating radio documentary produced by Elizabeth Laragy, following Pauline Scanlon over three years as she makes her album ‘The Unquiet’.
Talking about the album, Pauline said:
“All my life as a singer, I have been drawn to old songs. In them, I find solidarity with the ghosts of people I have never met and yet share fragments of feelings with. Somewhere in the empathy that is shared between singer, listener, and ghostly forms, I find strands of myself that didn’t originate in my own heart but have found their way in there all the same. They belong to someone or somewhere else, yet I feel them as deeply as if they were mine.
With this album, I seek to represent the realities of modern-era women through traditional song. I am intentionally redirecting these songs away from the traditional narrative, turning them to face the modern era, to reflect a new social outlook, and I am imagining the present as I sing them.
’The Unquiet’ is based on the life of my late mother, Eileen Scanlon, and her contemporaries in Irish society. I include myself in this. The songs are not literal in that they do not reflect specific events in my mother’s life. They do, however, have a resonance and a purpose in reflecting her lived experience and that of modern-era women in Ireland through my perspective.
I made the album for my daughter, Kitty, that she may know her grandmother, what she was like, the bright, loving, funny and powerful force of nature that she was, so she will always know what her grandmother and many other Irish women lived through.
I dedicate these songs to my sisters in arms, to those who suffer and protest, working tirelessly to make Ireland a country that I hope my daughter can enjoy; an equal place, kind, inclusive, free of shame, and liberated from all institutions and instruments of oppression.”
The Unquiet by Pauline Scanlon
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