The late great Gay Byrne gave his nation of listeners the habit of being serenaded on this day, May 1st. by ‘Queen of the May’ sung by Canon Sydney MacEwan.
Canon MacEwan (1908 – 1991) was born in Glasgow and he also died there.
The song he made famous is believed to have been composed by a Mary E. Walsh who was a pupil of the Sisters of Notre Dame.
Ireland’s Own Article
According to an article in Ireland’s Own, Sydney Alfred MacEwan, a Scottish tenor was born on the 19th October 1908 in the Springburn area of Glasgow.
His Irish mother was from Portadown, County Armagh and his father was from Partick in Scotland.
Despite their poor circumstances, his mother managed to pay for music lessons for Sydney and his brother. Both sons won scholarships to good schools.
Gay Byrne Request to Ronan Collins
Ronan Collins revealed today on his RTÉ Radio One show that Gay Byrne asked him to keep the May Day tradition alive and continue to play that version of the song which, more than any other, is the harbinger of summer and flowers and traditions and all that’s good about being alive and looking forward.
And God knows that was all in very short supply for the past couple of weeks