I wanted to play this last week on the 40th anniversary of its release but laughing Lennie Cohen got in the way. This is Horslips magnum opus recorded after the pressure of releasing commercially viable albums abated they had 18 months to immerse themselves in the millenia old tradition of Irish music. While it is similar to the self indulgent 70s prog rock concept album milieau it has a depth and historical grounding that the likes of Rick Wakeman could only dream of.
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The Book of Invasions (Leabhar Gabhala Eireann)
The Book of Invasions is a twelfth century chronicle of the
various pre-Christian colonisations of Ireland. The race who occupied
the country before our Gaelic ancestors were the Tuatha De Danann -the
Peoples of the Goddess Danann. While their origins are unclear we do
know that the Tuatha were a mystical race, handsome and learned,
elegantly dressed, expert in every art and science and supreme masters
In the Mythological Cycle their place is among the traditions of
Immortals. In fact the Tuatha were so magnificent their existence
embarrassed scholars who, when transcribing the legends centuries later
did not know whether to regard them as men, demons or fallen angels.
Bravest of all peoples their leaders were wizards first and warriors
second whose victories were gained more by superior knowledge and magic
than by warfare. The Agatha De Danann occupied the country and lived in
relative peace from 3303 Age of the World until the coming of the
Milesian warriors in 3500 Age of the World.
After their defeat at the Battle of Tailteann the Tuatha simply vanished
from these islands. Tradition and popular belief has it that the
Tuatha, through their esoteric powers, became the Sluagh Sidhe (The
Fairy Host) and, taking their secrets and mysterious arts with them,
entered an occult realm where they remain till this day.
A Celtic Symphony
In the old Ireland there were three principal categories of song, called
geantrai, goltrai and suantrai—the joyous strain, the lamenting strain
and the sleep strain. When Lug was proving himself expert in every art
before the Tuatha hierarchy his musical contribution was an immaculate
performance of the three strains.Later, after the Second Battle of
Moytura, Lug and The Dagda (The Good God) pursue the Formorians who
have stolen The Mighty One's harp.When the instrument is located the
Dagda bids it come to him. As it flies to his hands it kills those
enemies standing in its path.
Then he plays the three strains and when the opposing host are sleeping,
from the magic of the suantrai, he departs safely, taking his harp