The late Gay Byrne always left it to Canon Sydney MacEwan to lift the spirits of the nation on May Day when he played his ‘Queen of the May’ religiously on that day.
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.
Born in Glasgow
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 boys won scholarships to good schools.
Gay Byrne Request to Ronan Collins
Ronan Collins revealed on May 1st last year 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.
In Short Supply
That was all in very short supply this time last year, however, with a new outlook and a breeze in our sails this year, we can listen to Canon MacKewan’s song with hope in our hearts for ourselves and for everyone around us.
I was delighted yesterday to hear from my baby sister Kate that she walked around our little acre in Knocknagore and blessed the hedges and corners and all who dwell in, within and around.
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
This is something our grandmother and mother did before us. Our grandmother Ellen Reidy, a Ballymac woman, used to put pictures of St. Martin into square sauce bottles and place them in the ditches in the four corners of the acre.
I believed at the time that we had a strong connection with the famed Academy of St. Martin in the Fields orchestra and every time I hear it on the radio even now I see our grandmother striding around the field sprinkling everything, children, hens, ducks and goats within her scope.
You can hear Canon MacEwan’s famous and Ireland’s favourite May Day anthem / hymn with a click on the link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gv0S3M-mR8
You can contact The Maine Valley Post on…Anyone in The Maine Valley Post catchment area who would like to send us news and captioned photographs for inclusion can send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org Queries about advertising and any other matters regarding The Maine Valley Post can also be sent to that address or just ring: 087 23 59 467.