- 16 Nov 23
"And the boys of the NYPD Choir were singing Galway Bay” – thus runs the chorus of the greatest Christmas single of all time, ‘Fairytale of New York’. As aficionados will know, there was no NYPD choir – until now, that is. Plus, news on a special Hot Press curated pop-up exhibition titled 'They Gave The Walls A Talking – The Extraordinary Story of The Pogues and Shane MacGowan'.
EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum has announced the release of a video that will bring the famed Boys of the NYPD choir line in 'Fairytale of New York' to life – and celebrate the hugely popular emigrant classic ‘Galway Bay’.
In this spirit, just over a month ago – 36 years after the initial release of The Pogues' beloved Christmas anthem – a handpicked group of retired NYPD officers gathered in a recording studio in the heart of New York City, alongside a local amateur choir, to lend their voices to the beloved song made famous by Bing Crosby.
The result is a breath-taking rendition of ‘Galway Bay’, a song that was penned by Irish emigrant, Arthur Colahan as a tribute to his homeland. This performance is complemented by a music video that will resonate with Irish people all over the world.
The songwriter, Dr Arthur Nicholas Colahan, was born on August 12, 1884, in Enniskillen, but later relocated with his family to Galway.
Colahan successfully graduated as a doctor from what was then called Queens College Galway in 1913. His professional journey began at the County Infirmary (now the County Buildings) and later led him to Holles Street, the Royal Army Medical Corps in India and eventually, Leicester, where he dedicated the remainder of his career to becoming a specialist in neurology.
Colahan crafted several original songs, including 'Asthoreen Bawn', 'The Kylemore Pass' and 'The Claddagh Ring' – but his most renowned composition, 'Galway Bay', emerged in 1927. 'Galway Bay' is a love letter to the City of the Tribes, written by a member of the Irish diaspora.
Retired NYPD Officer John Behan said of the song ‘Galway Bay’, “My grandfather used to play it at Christmas time – that was a song that he liked. He was a tough guy but he got soft when that music came on. He was a good man.”
The piece is a fitting tribute to the impact that The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’ - a song that has been described as a cultural touchstone for many Irish emigrants – has had in Ireland and across the world.
It is an undisputed Christmas classic, annually topping most played and most loved Christmas song lists.
It has +325M listens on Spotify and the official video has +87M on YouTube. Music body PPL officially named ‘Fairytale’ the most played Christmas song of the 21st century.
The EPIC NYPD Choir performance of 'Galway Bay' marks the beginning of a fresh celebration The Pogues' legacy.
To celebrate one of the most influential Irish bands of all time, Hot Press has collaborated with EPIC to create a pop-up exhibition titled 'They Gave The Walls A Talking – The Extraordinary Story of The Pogues and Shane MacGowan".
Shane MacGowan, who himself was born on Christmas day, has said of the London-Irish Celtic punk band that: “The Pogues could never have happened in Ireland. The Pogues needed to happen from the diaspora.”
Speaking on the influence of The Pogues, Hot Press Editor in Chief Niall Stokes said: "The Pogues music was – and remains – utterly unique. They took Irish folk and traditional music, shook it up to make it fizz like mad and injected into it a powerful punk spirit, and a wild Irish sense of abandon. But that was only the start of it. Within five years, the band had written some of the greatest songs ever about the experience of being Irish. It has been an enormous pleasure revisiting all of that musical magic and mayhem in preparing this pop-up exhibition, to which we have given the title 'They Gave The Walls A Talking'."
Nathan Mannion, Head of Exhibitions & Programmes, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, spoke of the seminal band saying: "They were part of an increasingly successful wave of Irish emigrant artists who made it big in Britain in the 1980’s and ‘They Gave the Walls a Talking’ charts the marvellously wild, fiercely fiery, sometimes drunken and – in the end – wonderfully inspiring contribution The Pogues have made to music in Ireland and across the world."
Commenting on EPIC's NYPD Choir project CEO Aileesh Carew said,"At EPIC, we take immense pride in highlighting the stories and accomplishments of Irish emigrants, demonstrating that Irish identity transcends the geographical boundaries of our island. What better way to celebrate this than by giving life to that famous line in ‘Fairytale of New York’, performed by retired NYPD officers, all of whom proudly share Irish heritage? This Christmas, we hope that the NYPD Choir's rendition of 'Galway Bay' will be shared far and wide, both at home and abroad."
You can watch EPIC's NYPD Choir's stunning performance of Galway Bay below: