Girsa:Bringing the Emerald Isle to American Music

Sweet, sad, energetic and calming…

Maeve Flanagan

Deirdre Brennan

Kristen McShane

Margaret Dudasik
fiddle/vocals/low whistle/dancing feet

Blaithin Loughran

Bernadette Flanagan
piano/bodhran/dancing feet

Pamela Geraghty

Emily McShane

Girsa-A combination of beautiful instruments and voices in the veins of Alysson Krauss and Solas. These young women have what it takes to charm even the jaded listeners with their energetic but  at times calming music.  I’d like to thank Christi Broersma for bringing this band to my attention. Girsa—pronounced geer-sha and meaning “young girls ” in Gaelic—is a group of eight Irish American teenagers wholive in and around Pearl River in Rockland County(the same place where Mary Fahl came from). . Instrumentation includes fiddle, accordion, whistle, mandolin, piano, and guitar. Two band members are also dancers. Immigrant Eyes is a track recorded and rendered with clarity and control. It is Irish but at the same time American. It is also one song that Guy Clarke recorded in 1993 for his Old Friends album. The lyrics:

Oh Ellis Island was swarming
Like a scene from a costume ball
Decked out in the colors in Europe
And on fire with the hope of it all
There stood my father’s own father stood huddled
With the tired and hungry and scared
Turn of the century pilgrims
Bound by the dream that they shared
They were standing in lines just like cattle
Poked and prodded and shoved
Some were one desk away from sweet freedom
Som were were torn from someone they love
Through this sprawling tower of babel
Came a young man confused and alone
Determined and bound for America
And carryin’ everything that he owned

Sometimes when I look in my grandfather’s Immigrant Eyes
I see that day reflected and I can’t hold my feelings inside
I see starting with nothing and working hard all of his life
So don’t take it for granted say grandfather’s Immigrant Eyes

Now he rocks and stares out the window
But his eyes are still just as clear
As the day he sailed through the harbor
And come ashore on the island of tears
My grandfather’s days are numbered
But I won’ t let his memory die
‘Cause he gave me the gift of this country
And the look in his Immigrant Eyes

I swear this song made it hard for me to see the computer screen because I was trying hard to fight back the tears. Such sweet and sad song. I don’t know about you lads but if there is one song that’s really worth listening to as we think about the blessings we have in our lives and how those before us have given their blood, sweat and tears to bring us to where we are now then this is that perfect soundtrack. As the year draws to an end this is an eye-opener. And we should give love to one another as intensely as we can while we are still alive and while we are still capable of giving that love. because through all the pain let us find comfort in everyone in this cold mad world.

Know more about this wonderful group:


3 thoughts on “Girsa:Bringing the Emerald Isle to American Music

  1. Like the Irish from the Ould Sod, these girls have taken up many instruments as well as vocals! There’s really fantastic diversity within the group musically.

    Some of these girls are the second generation musicians, too. Some are related to the gals from the group Cherish the Ladies which is also a fabulous group too.


  2. Thanks for the link. The video from Ellis Island is amazing and touches all nationalities. It is the story of our ancestors and very well done. Very moving. Please make some more !


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