"Ireland in the summer... Here is where I seem to remember slices. Here is where I’ve come to reemember Poppa’s stories of the Cherokee Nation. Go figure. The Cherokee and the Irish have both had their cultures invaded, and maybe that’s why they have bonded within my family bloodline — but it’s more than that. I don’t know if there is something in the water, something in the rain. And jeez. It’s been raining. The August fires are burning steadily here in the old Irish house. The tank tops we all brought are whispering warm-weather chants under cardigans. The guys have gone down for a Murphy’s or a Guiness on tap, down at Paula’s place. It doesn’t matter if she hasn’t seen us in a year; she always acts like we’re regulars. Maybe that’s just the Irish way, but it pulls me back time and time again.
When I was writing the song ’Ireland,’ I was reading some book a journalist had given me about James Joyce and I was drawn into that fabric that made up his tapestry, his life. There was a spoiled nun who taught him the names of the mountains on the moon... I figured if ’Ireland’ was referring to James Joyce, then it needed to have nuns, and if it had nuns, then it needed to have white-collar sadomasochists from Wall Street, and if it had that, then it needed to have Vikings since anywhere you go around Ireland their presence is still felt. And if you had Vikings, then you needed to include the ancient Irish legends, which are usually divided into four cycles.
The first one is the Mythological Cycle, whereby the Tuatha Dé Danann, who are descendants of the goddess D’Anu, known as the divine people, begin the richness of Irish mythology with stories that tell of their origins and their ways. Stories of the malevolent Fomorians, who battle the Tuatha Dé Danann for control over Ireland. Tales of the Sídh — a term for an otherworldly being, or a place-a mound where the Sídh live. The Tuatha Dé Danann were defeated by the Milesians by the end of the Bronze Age (circa 300 B.C.), and their otherworldly presence took the form of the Sídh in the legends. After their defeat, writes their contemporary chronicler Eithne Massey, the Sídh ’took refuge in the world of hollow mounds and magical islands far out to sea, but often used their otherworldly powers to help or hinder mortals.’
The Sídh’s historical myth is the source of the bastardized concept of a fairy — as if anyone gives a rat’s ass. But for all those fairy haters out there, at least now you’ll know the origin of that which you hate.
Next up comes the Ulster Cycle, then the Fianna Cycle during the Celtic Iron Age, and then the Cycle of the Kings during the early Christian era. ’Ireland’ incorporates the story of Macha, a goddess of Motherhood and Blood, who was nine months’ pregnant when she was forced by her husband to race against the king’s horses to fulfill a boast he had made. Macha did in fact run faster than the horses — and cursed the sons of Ulster after having given birth to her twins. Late at night in pubs in Ireland, sometimes you will hear a reference to Macha and her curse, which many believe can still befall you when you least expect it.
Queen Maeve and the warrior Cú Chulainn are the main characters in the Cattle Raid of Cooley, also known as the famed Táin Bó Cuailgne. The Morrigan embodies one of the triple battle fairies. The desire men felt for the beautiful Deirdre was what ended her life, as far as I’m concerned one of the saddest stories of all time. Eithne Massey’s book Legendary Ireland: A Journey Through Celtic Places and Myths is where you can dive into more on this." (Piece by Piece)
"’Ireland’ is about James Joyce, really, and comes after ’Original Sinsuality,’ which of course, is about how religion has maybe hypnotized a lot of people to certain truths. And to sing ’Ireland’ after that was a very calculated and poetic move because having lived in Ireland, religion is very strong there and the power of the church is very, very strong. So, to reference James Joyce who was trying to combat this invasion, and get deep... the effect the church had on him was there because he was brought up by Jesuits. I got a book about James Joyce a few years ago, so I’m making quite a lot of references in just his works — I have a lot of portraits. If you do some of your research you’ll begin to see that there are a lot of references there that give you another story, but maybe I’m seducing you with the reggae beat and you don’t know that I’m talking about James Joyce.
Now there’s the paradox of ’Ireland.’ Because you’d think I’d be doing ’diddly diddly diddly diddly diddly’ to a St. Patty’s tune. But thats not what we’re doing. So there’s a revolutionary quality from the inspiration of the great father himself of Reggae music, who we all love so well. And his influence, although he’s been dead a long time, I wanted to have that in there because he was a revolutionary, even though he’d be talking about love and joy in his song... the gospel of that music is what I really wanted, having Father Marley there as an energy while we’re singing about this woman’s emancipation from the church and going to Ireland in order to really free herself, where women aren’t allowed to have abortions, where in this country maybe we’re becoming more like Ireland has in the past, if you see what I mean.
But The Beekeeper is addressing that. I’m hoping that if you’re a right-wing Christian you are humming ’Ireland’ and you don’t realize, necessarily, what you’re being drawn into..." (Little Blue World, May 2005)