The late great Gay Byrne gave his nation of devoted RTÉ Radio One listeners the habit of being serenaded on this day, May 1st. by ‘Queen of the May’ sung by Canon Sydney MacEwan.
It’s an endearing tradition which some of the current RTÉ radio presenters have carried on.
Lilian Smith played it on her always pleasant Rising Time this morning after the amazing broadcast that is the Dawn Chorus.
In fact, Ronan Collins revealed on his May 1st show this time last year that Gay Byrne asked him to keep the May Day tradition alive and he continues to play that version of the song when the spirit lifting date falls on a week-day.
It is, more than any other, the harbinger of summer and flowers and traditions and all that’s good about being alive and looking forward.
Canon MacEwan (1908 – 1991)
Canon MacEwan 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.
You can click on the image above, listen to the song, smell the flowers, imagine and live.
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