Saturday, July 4, 2009

Celtic Woman: Isle of Hope and O, America

I've never been a particularly patriotic, especially since I realized (sometime in my late teens) that the United States is one of the countries that still bestows the death penalty.  I'm aware of the great things about my country and of the (many) skeletons in our closet.  With the election of Barack Obama, I find myself hopeful that the United States reclaims its potential.

On Wednesday night, at the Celtic Woman concert, there were two songs about the United States.  All I could find online were fan-videos taken live, but you should still watch (at least) the first one.  (The second one is pretty but the lyrics are...repetitive, which reminds me a little too much of wartime propaganda.)

Happy Independence Day!

The song "Isle of Hope" is about Ellis Island, in New York Harbour, where Irish Immigrants and others were processed.
image from
The first Immigrant to be processed there was Annie Moore, from County Cork.
She arrived with her brothers on 1/1/1892, her fifteenth birthday.

The statue of Annie and her brothers in Cobh, Cork:

Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears
Lyrics By : Brendan Graham

On the first day on January,
Eighteen ninety-two,
They opened Ellis Island and they let
The people through.
And the first to cross that threshold
Of that isle of hope and tears,
Was Annie Moore from Ireland
Was all of fifteen years.

Isle of hope, isle of tears,
Isle of freedom, isle of fears,
But it's not the isle you left behind.
That isle of hunger, isle of pain,
Isle you'll never see again
But the isle of home is always on your mind.

In her little bag she carried
All her past and history,
And her dreams for the future
In the land of liberty.
And courage is the passport
When your old world disappears
But there's no future in the past
When you're fifteen years


When they closed down Ellis Island
In nineteen forty-three,
Seventeen million people
Had come there for sanctuary.
And in Springtime when I came here
And I stepped onto its piers,
I thought of how it must have been
When you're fifteen years.


O, America
Music: William Joseph
Words: Brendan Graham

O, America you’re calling,
I can hear you calling me:
You are calling me to be true to thee,
True to thee… I will be.

O, America no weeping,
Let me heal your wounded heart:
I will keep you in my keeping,
Till there be… a new start.

And I will answer you, and I will take your hand,
And lead you… to the sun:
And I will stand by you…do all that I can do,
And we will be… as one.

O, America I hear you,
From your prairies to the sea,
From your mountains grand, and all through this land,
You are beautiful to me.

And… O, America you’re calling,
I can hear you calling me:
You are calling me to be true to thee,
True to thee… I will be.

And I will answer you, and I will take your hand,
And lead you… to the sun:
And I will stand by you… do all that I can do,
And we will be…as one.

O, America you’re calling…
I will ever answer thee.

O, America! by Brendan Graham and William Joseph (C) 2008 by Peermusic (UK) Ltd. (PRS), Songs of Peer, Ltd.(ASCAP) and Paybill Publishing (ASCAP) All Rights on behalf of Peermusic (UK) Ltd. Controlled and Administered by Peermusic III, Ltd.(BMI). All Rights of behalf of Paybill Publishing Controlled and Administered by Songs of Peer, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.


  1. WOW. I had no idea that the first immigrant at Ellis Island was a kid!!! Where's the YA book on her?!

  2. Happy Independence day to you. It was also my parents 30th marriage anniversary on 4th of July. :D

    Guess Dad decided to give up his freedom. :D :D

  3. I'm Canadian but also hopeful with your election of Barack Obama. I've been to Ellis Island but I never knew the first person there was 15 years old either. How interesting!

  4. I actually didn't know that the first person to be processed at Ellis Island was a teenager, which is pretty cool. The downside is, however, that at Ellis Island the immigrants weren't treated well at all.

  5. I love this song and Celtic Woman. I too hoped when Obama became president things would get better, but it seems they are getting worse and more chaotic. Don't forget us Celtic Woman, we surely will never forget you!



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