Our Song of the Day comes from Dublin-based urban alt-folk sextet The Mariannes and their new new single The Black Diary Waltz. The song and accompanying stop motion video by Abigail Denniston pays tribute to Roger Casement; coinciding with the 1916 Easter Rising centenary celebrations. Casement was a British diplomat, humanitarian activist (knighted in 1911 for his important investigations of human rights abuses in Peru), Irish nationalist, and poet. The song has already received a great deal of attention pre-release and the band have performed the track live on Arena, RTE Radio 1.
The Black Diary refers to Casement’s private journals, extracts from which were circulated by the British government in “a campaign to portray Casement as a sodomite and sexual degenerate”¹ in order to undermine any support for clemency in his trial for treason following failed efforts to gain German military aid for the 1916 Easter Rising. Following his trial he was hung to death at Pentonville prison and buried in the prison cemetery. It wasn’t until 1965 that Casement’s remains were repatriated to the Republic of Ireland where he was given a state funeral during which an estimated half a million people filed past his coffin.
On the song Lisa Loughrey, songwriter, said:
‘The Black Diary Waltz is, at its core, a song about being proud of who you are, and being proud of where you’ve come from. It’s about standing up for what you believe in – even in the face of great adversity. And it’s about being able to look back on those times and say, “I wouldn’t change a thing”’.
Abigail Dennison, artist and creator of video, also revealed some background behind the inspiration for the video:
‘Before I worked with The Mariannes I had done a little bit of experimenting with stop motion and after listening to The Black Diary Waltz I envisaged the story told in the song to be softly lit and almost quaint. The lyrics in the song are strongly representative of the tragic and wrongful hanging Roger Casement and in a sense I wanted to represent Dublin landmarks that set particular scenes in the diary entries themselves’.
The Black Diary Waltz is self-released on 4 March 2016