PRESENT FUTURE - VISUAL EXHIBITION
SHARON SHANNON, FRANCES BLACK & MARY COUGHLAN - ULSTER HALL, 13.1.23

JIMMY MacCARTHY - BRIGHT BLUE ROSE

Bright Blue Rose

"For all of you who must discover,
For all who seek to understand,
For having left the path of others
You'll find a very special hand.

And it is a holy thing, and it is a precious time
And it is the only way
Forget-me-nots among the snow, it's always been and so it goes
To ponder his death and his life eternally

One bright blue rose outlives all those
two thousand years, and still it goes
to ponder his death and his life eternally"

-      From Bright Blue Rose by Jimmy MacCarthy (and Mary Black and Christy Moore and…)

 

Jimmy MacCarthy is one of my favourite songwriters. The Cork man is probably better known for the songs that have been covered by a host of others – Christy Moore, Mary Black, Mary Coughlan to name but three – and it was probably Mary Black’s version of this that I heard first.

It immediately spoke to me spiritually and became a companion on the journey of discovering faith. It was very clear to me that the 2000 years reference was of Jesus. A friend then met MacCarthy in Dublin and asked him about the song. Jimmy replied “it’s a hymn.”

Indeed it is and how beautiful a hymn; the music, the poetry, the spiritual depth. It is a spectacular piece of songwriting. In his own book Ride On MacCarthy shares a story of illness, hospital, a faith healer and waking up on Easter Sunday reaching for his notepad. He writes, "I generally regard a chorus as a logical conclusion so, picking up my guitar, I sang the chorus which came to me spontaneously, put it on paper and said, “Yes, there is a God and thanks be to God.” He goes on to describe it as a mysterious piece and how anybody “will be glad when you sing it.”

When I hear it, particularly in a live setting whether, Christy Moore, Frances Black or Caroline Orr in Fitzroy it always moves me spiritually. I close my eyes and find myself pondering the mysteries of God and that death and life of Jesus. Every time it makes me feel touched in my soul. Healed. Refreshed. Forgiven. At peace.

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