7 July 2005 Edition
Those who suffer write the songs - Frank Harte
Those who suffer write the songs
Those in power write the history, those who suffer write the songs. Given our history, we have an awful lot of songs-
Frank Harte was born in Dublin on 14 May 1933. He grew up in Chapelizod, where his father owned 'The Tap' public house. A Traveller singing the Valley of Knockanure, on a fair day in Boyle, County Roscommon was what first sparked his interest in Irish traditional singing. It was an interest that became lifelong. By the end of last year, his database of Irish songs had reached over 15,000.
An architect by profession, he managed to find time to record a number of albums. Down Dublin Streets first appeared on Topic Records in 1967, followed by Through Dublin City. His songbook Songs of Dublin appeared in 1978.
He first collaborated with Dónal Lunny on And Listen To My Song, Daybreak and a Candle-End in 1987. On the bi-centenary of the 1798 Rising, Frank launched 1798 The First Year of Liberty. This excellently produced album is distinctive in having copious sleeve notes and including many forgotten songs of '98. In 2001 he launched a CD of songs of the Napoleonic period, My Name is Napoleon Bonaparte. This double album has a total of 26 songs, as well as a 56-page booklet of sleeve notes. In 2003 he received the Gradam TG4 traditional singing award.
Despite ill health, Frank continued to record. The Hungry Voice, an album of songs of the Great Famine was launched last year, and just prior to his death he had completed recording a CD of Irish labouring songs; There's Gangs of Them Digging.
Frank Harte is survived by his wife Stella, his sons Darragh and Cian, and his daughters, Sinéad and Orla.
BY PAT BURKE