HARTE OF THE MATTER: A brilliant night with Ralph McTell

Jimmy Harte enjoys great night at An Grianan

Jimmy Harte


Jimmy Harte


Jimmy Harte

Jimmy and Mary Harte pictured with Ralph McTell in Letterkenny's An Grianan Theatre.

It’s a long, long way from Clare to here.

Written by Ralph McTell, the song is the story of an Irishman working on the building sites of London, and captures his feelings when he meets another worker on the same site.

The words of the song mean so much to the many thousands of Irish people who went to England to seek employment in tough times.

Speaking on the Ryan Tubridy Show last week, Ralph explained that the words spoken to him would not have had the same impact had the worker said: “It’s a long long way from here to Clare.”

Even though he was a fully fledged Englishman, McTell’s experience of working on the building sites of London with Irishmen gave him an understanding of how life was in those days of emigration and heartache for so many Irish families.

His concert in Letterkenny last Monday night was an inspiration and he encapsulated the mood of the Irish in England at the time.

I got a mention twice from the stage! He was really at home on stage here and his performance matched his enthusiasm on the night.

It was a great night and nobody went home disappointed. It was a night for nostalgia and reminiscing. It was a tribute to the power of music and how it can connect people.

Well done Ralph McTell. Your presence in Donegal will always be welcome.

World Cup play-offs

Northern Ireland lost their chance to go to Russia after suffering a home 1-0 defeat to Switzerland over the two legs of their play-off.  

The deciding goal in Belfast was cruel but they were lucky to have conceded only one goal as the visitors dominated for most of the game. Michael O'Neill's side were always second best in that contest.

Northern Ireland went to Basle on  the back of a poor performance in Belfast and were the better team on the night.  Maybe the Swiss were a little over-confident but had they believed in themselves in the first leg in Belfast we would be looking at Northern Ireland qualifying.

One thing is sure , Michael O'Neill's future is in the Premiership and many clubs will be chasing him in the summer.  He can't do much more with Northern Ireland and the fans would not begrudge him that chance to further his career in top flight football.

He has been a top manager in a difficult group and I'm sure many fans would love to see him in charge of their team. He has arrived on the world stage and the future looks bright for him. He brought a team of also-rans to being in the frame for qualifying for a major tournament. Well done Michael.