Irish Heartbeat

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Irish Heartbeat
Irish Heartbeat.jpg
Studio album by Van Morrison and The Chieftains
Released 1988
Recorded September 1987—January 1988, Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin
Genre Traditional Irish folk, Folk-rock
Length 38:44
Label Mercury
Producer Van Morrison, Paddy Moloney
Van Morrison chronology
Poetic Champions Compose
Irish Heartbeat
Avalon Sunset
The Chieftains chronology
In Ireland
Irish Heartbeat
The Tailor of Gloucester
Singles from Irish Heartbeat
  1. "I'll Tell Me Ma" b/w "Tá Mo Chleamhnas Déanta"
    Released: June 1988

Irish Heartbeat is the eighteenth studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and is a collaboration with the traditional Irish musical group The Chieftains, released in 1988. The album was recorded at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland and reached number 18 in the UK album charts.


The album was recorded on dates from September to December 1987 and in January 1988. The Chieftains and Van Morrison had met years before at the Edinburgh rock festival. They joined up in Belfast during Morrison's No Guru tour and afterwards, Morrison and Paddy Moloney discussed recording an album together during a walk. They each had a list of songs and reached a consensus to cover two of Morrison's previously released tracks (the title track was one) and the rest from traditional Irish songs.

Recalled Moloney:

I think at that time Van was searching for his Irish roots. It was this man of blues, of rock ‘n’ roll, jazz and more importantly soul, coming home to his Irishness with The Chieftains and the music we’d been playing for so many years. Musically we were going to meet each other half way.[1]

In October 1987 they performed together at Balmoral Studio in Belfast. The concert was broadcast on St. Patrick's Day in 1988.[2]


The album consists of eight traditional Irish songs, plus re-workings of the Morrison songs "Celtic Ray" (which first appeared on 1982's Beautiful Vision) and the title track "Irish Heartbeat" (which first appeared on 1983's Inarticulate Speech of the Heart). "Carrickfergus" is described as "a melancholic air worthy of Otis Redding" by critic Denis Campbell.[3] "on Raglan Road" was adapted from a poem by Patrick Kavanagh and is the story of "a man ensnared by a beautiful revenant whom he had mistaken for 'a creature made of clay'." [4] In 1994, Billy Connolly recorded a live cover of the song "Irish Heartbeat" during his World Tour of Scotland. The performance was used as the closing theme to the BBC series.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[6]
Robert Christgau C+ [7]

The album received mostly positive reviews upon its release. It was called "some of the most haunting, rousing, downright friendly music of the year".[8] Rolling Stone gave the album four stars and remarked upon its "splendor and intense beauty".[9] On the other hand, critic Robert Christgau gave the album a "C+" in his Consumer Guide and called Morrison's collaboration with the Chieftains "misguided."[10] Nonetheless, it was voted one of the best albums of the year in the Village Voice's influential Pazz & Jop rock critics' poll.[11]

Track listing[edit]

All songs traditional, arranged by Van Morrison and Paddy Moloney, except as indicated.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Star of the County Down" – 2:41
  2. "Irish Heartbeat" (Morrison) – 3:52
  3. "Tá Mo Chleamhnas Déanta (My Match It Is Made)" – 3:31
  4. "Raglan Road" – (lyrics by Patrick Kavanagh) – 4:43
  5. "She Moved Through the Fair" – 4:44

Side two[edit]

  1. "I'll Tell Me Ma" – 2:29
  2. "Carrickfergus" – 4:23
  3. "Celtic Ray" (Morrison) – 3:47
  4. "My Lagan Love" – 5:19
  5. "Marie's Wedding" – 3:17



AlbumBillboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1988 The Billboard 200 102

AlbumUK Albums Chart

Year Chart Position
1988 UK Albums Chart 18


  1. ^ Glatt, The Chieftains, p. 217.
  2. ^ Hinton, Celtic Crossroads, p. 266-267.
  3. ^ Hinton. Celtic Crossroads. p.269.
  4. ^ Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence? p. 418
  5. ^ Ruhlmann, William. Irish Heartbeat at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-06-28.
  6. ^ Rolling Stone 11 August 1988
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert. Irish Heartbeat. Retrieved 2011-06-28.
  8. ^ Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence?, p. 418
  9. ^ Rolling Stone, Aug. 11, 1988
  10. ^ Consumer Guide, Nov. 29, 1988
  11. ^ The 1988 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll


External links[edit]