The Theatre Royal had a gem of a one-night stand last week with The Fighting Irish and Uncle Sam scripted by Myles Dungan with beautiful songs of the period in question from Matthew Gilsenan (tenor). Dungan delivered a fine and often witty commentary covering the Irish in America from Famine times up and through the American Civil War and into the fighting 69th in the Great War in 1917.
The Irish were not exactly welcomed in America and become the cannon fodder in Irish regiments. Bigotry was rife and some Irish fought with Mexico in the San Patricios with their flag of Erin Go Bragh.
Of Waterford interest was the involvement of Thomas Francis Meagher in the Civil War when he led the 69th New York into the Battle of Bull Run where large numbers were slaughtered.
In the second half there were 32 Irishmen counted as dead with General Custer at Little Big Horn and it took the 7th Cavalry over 14 years to wreak a bloody revenge.
Matthew Gilsenan delighted the attentive audience with some witty songs and excellent versions of The Minstrel Boy, Paddy’s Green Shamrock shore, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, Garryowen and The Girl I Left Behind. His version of the Joyce Kilmer poem Trees was beautiful and it brought me back to primary school where I thought Kilmer was a woman.