Theme From Harry’s Game

Written and composed by Pól Brennan. "Theme from Harry's Game," often called simply "Harry's Game," is a song performed more...

Written and composed by Pól Brennan. “Theme from Harry’s Game,” often called simply “Harry’s Game,” is a song performed by the Irish group Clannad. Released as a single in October 1982, the song served as the main track from their album Magical Ring. However, the song was initially written and composed for the Yorkshire Television production Harry’s Game, which depicted The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The song reached #5 in the United Kingdom Singles Chart in November 1982. It was also a huge success in Ireland, the band’s home country, where it reached #2.

The lyrics are in the Irish language, and the song is to date the only British hit single ever to have been sung entirely in Irish. The chorus, “Fol lol the doh fol the day, Fol the doh fol the day,” is ancient Irish mouth-music which is common in traditional music. The song won an Ivor Novello award, and launched Clannad’s global career. It has since appeared in several Hollywood movies, most notably Patriot Games, in which an IRA member is seen watching the music video for the song on his television. Its use in a Volkswagen commercial introduced Clannad to an American audience.

Clannad’s debut trans-Atlantic album, Anam, was released in the United States in 1992 and became an enormous American success – spurred on by a strong reaction to “Harry’s Game,” including extensive video exposure on VH1. The song went on to garner the Billboard Music Award for World Music Song Of The Year and to reach the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart three years after its release.

The song also features on Clannad’s vocalists’s live albums, the 2005 album Óró – A Live Session and the 2008 Moya Brennan solo album Heart Strings. The original has also been sampled various times by artists such as Kaleef and Elate. Moya Brennan recorded a solo version at Mothership Studio for dance musician Chicane, which he used on his UK top 10 hit “Saltwater.”

The lyrics to the song were written to depict the story of The Troubles among all sides in Northern Ireland and the future of the sides (Nationalist, Republican, Unionist and Loyalist). Moya Brennan, while explaining how Clannad was “about the music and never political,” explained the meaning behind the song. The lyrics, derived from an ancient text from Galway, explain how in war and in violence, no side will win – that all lose.

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I will go east and go west
From whence came the moon and the sun

Fol lol the doh, fol the day
Fol the doh, fol the day

The moon and the sun will go
And the young man with his reputation behind him

Fol lol the doh, fol the day
Fol the doh, fol the day
Fol lol the doh, fol the day
Fol the doh, fol the day

I will go wherever he came from
The young man with his reputation behind him

Fol lol the doh, fol the day
Fol the doh, fol the day

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