Traditional songs often deal with subjects considered too delicate for the world of popular music. Here we have a song of murder and incest, from the Irish tradition, delivered in stunning fashion by Christy Moore, one of the founding members of the iconic Irish folk band ‘Planxty’. Christy learned it from an Irish traditional singer named John Reilly.
This song is also sometimes known as ‘The Maid and the Palmer’, and there are many theories about its origins. Mainly Norfolk has a good summary of the recording history, and there is a long discussion about the history and meaning of the song at Mudcat Café here.
Christy Moore is one of the best known contemporary Irish musicians; Wikipedia has a good summary of his story, and his web site is here. The official website for Planxty, which still re-forms to play together from time to time, is here.