Behind the Song - Pete Mullineaux / The End of the World

My song, ‘The End of the World’ is about modern day migration around the world, and unusually for songs about emigration, focuses on migration into Ireland and takes in the recent tragic stories of people lost at sea.

It comes directly out of my work with Afri (Action from Ireland) where we have been involved in a schools project exploring global issues, looking at the links between forced migration and its origins in poverty, war and persecution.  The Galway based project concluded with a walk to the Celia Griffin Memorial Park in Salthill, where there is a monument to a six year old girl who died in Ireland’s Great Famine, telling her story on behalf of the millions of other victims.

In the park there is also a monument linking to the ships that sailed from Ireland, taking people away to the hope of survival and a new life elsewhere, many of these boats being effectively, ‘coffin ships’ just like today. At the ceremony, Choctaw artist Gary Whitedeer spoke movingly about the suffering of his own people in their own forced migration known as the ‘Trail of Tears’ as they were unjustly moved off their lands.

Despite their own tragedy and huge loss of life they still managed to gather a donation together to send to the victims of the Irish famine in 1847. There is a monument to this generosity in Doolough near Louisburgh Co. Mayo, where Afri have been hosting an annual Famine Walk for a number of years.

The young people I was working with on the project wrote poems and songs and ‘The End of the World’ was my own contribution, prompted by Trad Connect’s recent call for songs on modern emigration. I sang it on the final day of the project accompanied by Dublin singer-songwriter Roj Whelan and this is the version posted here, with Roj’s lovely guitar lines and harmony vocals.

As a songwriter who doesn’t have the gift of a great voice I would welcome anyone who wants to sing or record the song, so that more people get to hear it.

For anyone interested there was a great piece in the Irish Times covering the schools project and the emigration theme.

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