Soundtrack Of A Photograph, The Christmas Editions, Part 5

Song-I Saw Three Ships

Artist-Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band



I am starting with the photograph first on this Christmas blog edition because I had a bit of a EUREKA! moment this morning while contemplating what song and photo to feature today. I took this in January of 2008 on my honeymoon in Ireland. This is the fishing port of Killybegs in Donegal, Ireland. Killybegs is the next town over from my mother’s birthplace of Kilcar, and since it was my wife’s first trip to Ireland I wanted her to see the town.  It has been well established in other installments of this blog that I enjoy taking photos of ships and trains so for the long time readers of this blog the subject is probably not a surprise. I vaguely recall taking this because I liked the reflection and the contrast of the red and green trawlers, and the battered looking one on the right sending off some steam. When I reviewed the photos when I was back, I think it was my wife who pointed out that the red and green together looked almost like a Christmas card. Since then it has always been a Christmas photo to me.

Now the song I Saw Three Ships is another one with a bit of a mystery about it and much has been written about it. Were the ships the three kings themselves? Were they the actual ships that carried the three kings before they made their way to land locked Bethlehem? Nobody can really say for sure. The reason I have always liked it is the imagery of the three ships sailing in. Now I know those three ships were obviously not modern day fishing trawlers, but my revelation moment this morning was in pairing this photo with this song.

Singing this version is the magnificent Maddy Prior, along with early music group, The Carnival Band. Maddy of course has long been the voice of English folk-rock group Steeleye Span along with a string of great solo albums. She has long been considered one of the key figures in the folk revival and from my earliest days of exploring the music she has been a favorite. The Carnival Band specialize in Early Music, and they play a wide range of medieval instruments such as curtals, shawms, recorders, and the tabor along with modern ones to create a unique sound. Maddy Prior and The Carnival Band have collaborated for years now, and this version of the song comes from their 1991 album Carols And Capers. In their hands they turn it into a spirited medieval romp, and a fitting choice as today’s Christmas Soundtrack Photo.

I Saw Three Ships-Traditional, Arranged by Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band

All photographs by Robert P Doyle All images in this blog are available in limited supply for purchase as unframed prints. Sizes may vary. Contact via for details.

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2 thoughts on “Soundtrack Of A Photograph, The Christmas Editions, Part 5

  1. pat hayes

    Love the post, love the song, love the photos – your wife’s right about the red and green. Happy holidays – good luck with the preparations!


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