When I was a preadolescent I bought the album by The Furey’s called ‘When You Were Sweet Sixteen‘. I listened and was charmed by these traditional Irish folk songs. Most of the songs from this album will feature in today’s project since I still enjoy listening to them. The title track of the album When You were Sweet Sixteen became a worldwide hit. That and The Green Fields of France were their only hit singles. Two of their albums have charted in the UK. Despite their modest commercial success, the Fureys have been around a long time and released many albums. The group originally consisted of four brothers ‘Furey’. For a while in 1969–1970, two of them performed with The Clancy Brothers and appeared on two of the Irish folk group’s albums.
Today’s song ‘Belfast Mill‘ was adapted from the original song titled ‘Aragon Mill‘ and was written by Si Kahn which laments the loss of mill village culture in the small Georgia town. Recognizing the sad universality of its theme, the song was recorded and retitled “Belfast Mill” by The Fureys.
Si Kahn the original songwriter even wrote about the connection in his comment in the you tube video below:
FROM SI KAHN: Thanks to whoever posted this great version of my song “Aragon Mill” by Davey Arthur and the Fureys. I wrote it in 1970 after spending several days in the town of Aragon, Georgia, right after the company closed the mill and threw 700 hard working people out of their jobs, some never to work for pay again. I was working with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the coal miners’ union, at the time, and asked to go there by the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA) to see if anything might be done about the mill closing, since I was on that day the closest labor/labour organizer to Aragon. I recorded the song in 1974 for my first album “New Wood,” which was released on New Year’s Day 1974, 40 years ago. Check out also other great versions of this song by Andy Irvine & Planxty; the original Red Clay Ramblers; Hazel Dickens; Otto Groote (in Plattdeutsch); 4 Yn Y Bar (in Welsh); Renaud (in French); Dolores Keene; the Dublin City Ramblers; and Peggy Seeger. Last year I worked with Aragon’s Mayor Ken Suffridge to start the first Aragon Mill JamFest, in the hopes of bringing some attention and maybe even a few jobs to this town that was hit so hard by corporate greed, as are so many places all over the world today. Thanks to all of you who fight back! In solidarity, Si
Belfast Mill is another fine example of the Celtic tradition of storytelling through song. Even though the Furey’s version is not original, it’s a great song none the less. The Banjo is superb in this and the singing oozes passion. Just a fantastic tune. The instrumentals even make you actually feel the wind, blowing through the town.