Story behind the song

The story behind An Ísiltír

Updated:

An Ísiltír is pronounced as ‘an ee-shall-tear’, as in ‘water you cry’ according to our good friend Trish. The story of this song started when we were on holidays in Ireland in June 2019.

Anne-Lotte’s dad really wanted to see the hills of Donegal, so we went over to Glenveagh National Park in the heart of county Donegal.

The lowlands

It was a beautiful day and we bought ourselves a ticket for the shuttle bus to visit the castle. Because the bus was scheduled to leave 10 minutes later, we started a wee chat with the driver. He asked us ‘where are you from?’ because we did sound a bit Irish, but he could tell we were not Irish. And we said that we came from the Netherlands. He said: ‘ah, An Ísiltír’. And we responded with ‘well eh bless you!’. But then he explained that An Ísiltír is the Irish word for the Netherlands or the lowlands. Ísil means low and tír means land. We looked at each other and said: there’s a song in that!

Sky on fire

Plot twist! The song isn’t situated in the hills of Donegal or in the lowlands. The first lines are inspired by the Kerry mountains situated around Annagh More, the B&B of our good friends Jan and Karen. We were hiking up the mountain during the sunset and the light was so amazing. The sunbeams stroked the lakes of Killarney, the foxgloves were dancing in the breeze and the sky was on fire.

Dick Mack’s

The first verses of the poem were just there, right in front of us. We only transferred it to the morning and turned the sunset into the sunrise, because of the beautiful dew on the mountains that next morning. The next verses are a shout out to the Dingle peninsula. The wild Atlantic waves, the great surf in Brandon Bay and the finest whiskey bar of Dingle town: Dick Mack’s. We love to go surfing, and having the craic playing songs and tunes in the pub afterwards.

Eire or An Ísiltír

We still haven’t told you, but the song is really about how we love Ireland but always go back home to the lowlands, hence An Ísiltír. The chorus starts with ‘Eire grá mo chroí’ – Ireland love of my heart. And ends with ‘let me take you back home to An Ísiltír, to the lowlands’. In the bridge of the song we sing we would live to live in the Dingle hills but go back to our nest in the land below. Will we ever live in Ireland? Or will we go back to the lowlands? To An Ísiltír.

Video with Tara Howley

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