Awakening Queen Maebh

By Solange McGirr

Long live the Queen…..but perhaps not the queen that first comes to mind! Rather than a modern-day monarch, the feisty female being conjured up is Ireland’s own Queen Maebh of Connacht, an iron-age ruler and towering figure of Irish myth.

During a nighttime walk along the River Liffey whilst on her first trip to Ireland in the fall of 1998, Los-Angeles based Celtic singer-songwriter Elizabeth Pendleton found herself contemplating the historically momentous vote of ‘yes’ by people across the island for the Good Friday Agreement. The first legitimate hope for peace in Northern Ireland and an optimistic gesture of reconciliation and hope for citizens on both sides of the border, the Agreement got Pendleton to thinking about how people at opposite ends of an issue can come together to create peace against an historical backdrop of almost unspeakable suffering and atrocity. The vote became the inspiration for Pendleton’s song ‘Hey Dublin,’ conceived during this same portentous stroll as an allegory about creating peace out of pain and moving towards a new paradigm of mutual healing.

“I never imagined that I would end up releasing the song at a time when my own country is at war,” Pendleton says, “yet things have worked out that way.” Pendleton nevertheless feels that the five-year anniversary of the Accord, on April 10th, is an ideal time to send her message out to the world - a world more in need of prayers for peace than ever.

Searching for a name for her collaborative effort at producing ‘Hey Dublin’, Pendleton chose the iron-age sovereign of Connacht, Queen Maebh, as her inspiration. “She’s a very powerful and enduring presence, and I welcome her essence to our age. I love working with a strong feminine archetype.” Along with Pendleton, Awakening Queen Maebh’s collaborators include programmer and DJ Peter “Peas” McEvilley (Domo Record’s “Confessions of A Dangerous Mind Soundtrack”) Dubliner Ken O’Malley (of the Twilight Lords on Dara Records) on mandolin and harpist Lisa Lynne (Windham Hill Records). A student of the Irish-Gaelic language, Pendleton sings her work in both Irish and English. ‘Hey Dublin’ has begun hitting the airwaves in Ireland, having been picked up by Midlands 103 Radio in Co. Offaly, Co. Donegal’s Raidió Pobal Inis Eoghain and community radio in Dublin.

About the song, Pendleton says, “Last December I made my third trip to Dublin and my first to Belfast and the north. The experience moved me beyond description and gave me the strength to finish this project I believe that the relative success of the agreement demonstrates that in some instances there are viable alternatives to war. And if it holds, this accord will offer the world a new model for solving political problems.” We’re sure the Queen herself would agree.

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