04 Dec 2021

WATCH: Limerick singer/songwriter recasts family story in new song

FOR singer/songwriter Paul Dunworth, it was always a family story, a story he had grown up with.

But now, the Newcastle West modern folk artist has recast this story as a song and has launched it via video into the wider world. 

Intriguingly called The Day the Circus Came to Town, it tells the sad story of Paul’s grandmother Gertrude, who died giving birth to Paul’s dad, Paul Snr, in August, 1947.

“I had grown up with the story. My parents told me,” Paul revealed this week. But more recently, he got more details from a cousin, Mary Hunt, who had played an important role in that sad August day, and this galvanised him into writing the song. 

“My father Paul Snr was born on August 8 1947 to Gertrude Dunworth who passed  away from a maternal death,” Paul explained. When learning of this tragic event,  cousin Mary Hunt was  asked to collect  the newborn from the hospital. 

“She was told to hurry  and collect the baby. She boarded the train from Newcastle West that day and when arriving in Limerick City at the hospital she was greeted by a comment from a nurse - ‘'There's no point collecting that baby, he will not survive’,” Paul continued. 

“But as  little as the baby was,  Mary collected him and put him in a shoe box filled with cotton wool and olive oil and brought him home to his father Bill Dunworth, my grandfather, in  Connolly Terrace. He was placed beside the fireplace to keep warm and the tale of Paul Dunworth Snr had begun.”

Despite his difficult start, Paul Snr survived and had a happy life, marrying and having five children. He died, in 2019, aged 71. 

More recently, cousin Mary Hunt who had been ill for some time also died. “It was when she was ill, that prompted me to think more about the story,” Paul said. 

It was, he added, a  tale of tragedy and loss and a  love that is bitter sweet.

The song tells that tale, and the title, Paul explained, is  also true. There was a circus in town that day. 

The Day the Circus Came to Town is now available to listen to and watch on YouTube, with footage by Míchéal Rowsome and sound by Brian Casey.

Paul hopes to include it in an EP which he is currently working on and which he hopes to launch in the next few months. 

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