Tune of the Day: Avondale
Oh have you been to Avondale
Or lingered in her lovely vale?
Where tall trees whisper low the tale
Of Avondale's proud eagle.
“Avondale's proud eagle” was Charles Stewart Parnell (born at Avondale, County Wicklow, Ireland), the leader of the Irish Home Rule Movement in the 1880s. He was called “the blackbird of Avondale” because he practiced his oratorical skills from the balcony of Avondale House, his birthplace, which is now a museum. Parnell is still regarded by many as the greatest politician in Ireland, and by others as the “uncrowned king of Ireland”.
In 1889, Parnell was politically neutralized and personally ruined by a carefully orchestrated vilification campaign over a scandal about his romance with Katharine (Kitty) O'Shea, an English woman of aristocratic background. His supporters, under a campaign of hatred by both the English press and the Catholic church, deserted him, and Parnell died without ever getting Home Rule enacted.
Among the most famous versions of this song we remember those recorded by Mary Black, Christy Moore and The Dubliners.