During the second half of the 19th Century, famine, disease and dissatisfaction with the country's harsh British rulers had contributed to a 50% reduction in the population of Ireland with many emigrating to the U.S. as a means of escaping poverty. The musicians among them discovered their music to be in great demand in the New World and, in the '20s and early '30s, these musicians would lay the foundations of what would eventually become the mighty U.S. record industry. Their recordings of traditional and popular Irish songs and tunes became the most commercially successful records of that period.
The compilation collects together 80 tracks from that golden age of Irish-American music in what is probably the most comprehensive anthology of the era. This varied catalogue of recordings, ranging from the traditional sound of the fiddle and pipes through whimsical music hall songs to ragtime and jazz, was furthermore influential in rekindling interest in traditional music back in Ireland where it had surprisingly been banned by the puritanical Catholic clergy. FAREWELL TO IRELAND is a truly fascinating document of an era that produced the first recorded examples of one of the cornerstones of modern popular music.