Spotlight on Dick Farrelly
the composer of one of Josef's most popular songs, 'The Isle of Innisfree'
Richard Farrelly (1916 -1990), known to his family and friends as Dick, was born in Kells, County
Meath. His parents were publicans who owned a bar in the town. He learned to play the piano as a
young boy and was writing songs and poetry by the time he reached his teens. At the age of twenty-
three Dick joined the Irish Police Force, the Garda Síochána, and served for thirty-eight years in the
Dick Farrelly was a gentle and quiet man, who rarely sought notoriety or publicity for his musical
creations. Hence, the CD's title "Legacy Of A Quiet Man" refers to his association with the film, The
Quiet Man, but more so to the unassuming personality and creativity of Dick, who penned more than two hundred songs and
poems in his lifetime. Songs like Seolta Bána & Siobhán, were just two little gems, which we found amongst a bundle of
manuscripts in an old suitcase belonging to him.
In 1948, Dick had his first big success with If You Ever Fall in Love Again. The song was a hit for Anne Shelton in the UK,
and for Guy Lombardo & His Orchestra in the US. He had several successful songs during the fifties, amongst them, his
lovely ballad, Cottage by the Lee, popularised by Joe Lynch, and The Rose of Slievenamon, recorded by Josef Locke.
However, the song for which Dick is best remembered is of course, The Isle of Innisfree.
The inspiration for the song came to Dick whilst on a bus journey from his native Kells to Dublin, and by the time he reached
his destination, the words and music of The Isle of Innisfree were complete. Before going to bed that night he put the song
down safely on manuscript. In Dick’s own words, "I used Isle of Innisfree as another name for Ireland, and it was Ireland I
had in mind when I wrote the song". With poignant words the song expresses the longing of an Irish emigrant for their native
land. The Isle of Innisfree was a huge international hit for Bing Crosby in 1952, giving Crosby his biggest chart success in the
UK. Dublin band leaders voted it their number one tune of the year and it is interesting to note that it sold over 150,000
thousand copies in sheet music format in Ireland and the UK alone.
Film director John Ford was so taken by The Isle of Innisfree that he
decided to use it as the principle musical theme of The Quiet Man. The
melody almost totally dominates the soundtrack, being reprised at
least eleven times. It is first heard as the credits roll, with a beautiful
scene of Lough Corrib and Ashford Castle in the background at
sunset. The melody becomes the love theme for Sean Thornton (John
Wayne) and Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara), and is wonderfully
orchestrated by Victor Young.
To quote author, Prof. Des MacHale, in his book, "The Complete Guide
to the Quiet Man",
"Its lush tone is fairy music, released from another world by the genius
of Richard Farrelly. Sadly, he received no mention in the screen credits
for the vital contribution he made to the movie, but The Quiet Man
wouldn’t have been half the movie it was without The Isle of Innisfree".
In 1982, Stephen Spielberg included it in his film ET, when a scene from The Quiet Man is shown, and Innisfree is also used
in the soundtrack of the film, Distant Voices Still Lives (1988). The Isle of Innisfree has been recorded hundreds of times
worldwide and continues to enrich the repertoires of innumerable artistes, but above all, it endures in the hearts of many to
this day as one of the great songs of Ireland.
Dick wrote We Dreamed our Dreams just a few years before he died, and it was one of his personal favourites. The Fureys &
Davey Arthur, made the first recording of it on an album entitled, The Scattering, released in1988.
We spent many enjoyable hours sifting through Dick’s manuscripts and songs, some of which were jotted down on the backs
of envelopes and bits of notepaper. We had difficulty in choosing eleven of our favourites for this album, some of which are
recorded here for the first time.
Published by Seolta Records (SEOLTA CD 001), and it can be obtained here:
www.dararecords.com and www.amazon.co.uk
Gerard has written more on his father and The Quiet Man here